Sunday, August 22, 2010

La Reunion

La Reunion - 57
Originally uploaded by brisegalets
We've done so many things in the past week that I am not sure I can remember everything.
We arrived on Tuesday, early afternoon as planned. At first, it seemed that it was going to be smooth sailing getting into the marina as we were expected and the marina got in touch with us via VHF. But it turned out that they had no space available inside the marina and we were to tie up alongside a wharf where it was quite acrobatic to get off. But we had electricity and water, which is all that matters. Customs were nowhere to be seen, be apparently, it does not matter here. My only concern is to make sure I get a clearance out of here to be able to clear in South Africa without problem.
Shortly after we arrived, Antoine showed up with the rental car and we were able to go to town and register the car, as well as taking Antoine home. It took us a little while to get back home, being in unknown territory with almost no signage, but we got back OK.
Wednesday, the whole morning was dedicated to waiting for customs, but they never showed up and in the afternoon we went to town to try and solve the problem of getting an internet connection. Not easy in a place where apparently you need as much justification and documents as if you were purchasing a nuclear submarine. Eventually, the last shop we went it, finally admitted that they could lend us a 3G USB key against a deposit, and we were set.
On Thursday, Antoine came to the boat early on his motorcycle (he lives 60 kms from the marina) and we took off for St Pierre on the south coast as I wanted to see the place and check out whether we could go there with Papy Jovial. Also, Olivier had made contact with the sister of a friend of his who lives there, and we were invited for lunch.
This was a very windy day, and after lunch, very pleasant in a nice house overlooking St Pierre, we went to the marina and could see that on a windy day, there is no way Papy Jovial could get in there safely. On the way back, we stopped at the house of Jean-Louis, skipper of "Loulou", contacted through STW (french association of cruisers) who had offered to lend us a couple of jerrycans to top up our fuel tank. Wonderful old creole house, a garden with all kinds of trees, figs, mango, bananas, etc... and a few turtles, the same kind we saw in Rodrigues. We then filled up the cans and went back to the boat where Antoine recoverd his bike and went back home.
Friday morning is the day of the biggest street market in Saint Paul and I was on a mission to get some vanilla, which had to be "ile de la Reunion" and had to be made either in St Philippe or Bras Panon. I also had to find some "kaloupile" (don't know what it is, apart that it is a spice). Mission accomplished in less than an hour and then we went back to town and to the customs house to do the clearance, since it was obvious that they would never come to the boat.
After that we drove to the crater of the only volcan still alive on the island, with activities almost every other year. The road was fabulous but by the time we got to the crater, we were in the midst of thick clouds with no visibility at all. Fortunately, there was another crater nearby, dead this one but just as spectacular, so we had no regrets.
After we went back to the boat, we went out again to have dinner with Antoine and his room-mate at a posh restaurant in St Denis. Pleasant evening, as always when you share a meal and a bottle of wine with friends.
Saturday, it was just Olivier and myself, and we drove all around the island. The other side, the windward one, is much more pleasant than the one on the lee side. We truly enjoyed that ride which also includes to drive through the streams of lava that came down from the volcano over the years. The last one occured in 2007 and was still hot and fuming. Very interesting. We touched the stones and they were quite warm. Then, as we were driving through St Denis, the capital city of the island, we stopped at a huge supermarket, kind of WalMart, to check out what was available as far as shopping is concerned. We will be leaving on Wednesday morning and we need to know what we kind buy.
Sunday, for the first time in this trip, I did a day sail, as Antoine and his friend wanted to go out and see the whales, which are supposed to hang around near the coast. We left around 8:30 in the morning, and luckily enough, they were there and even did us the favor of swimming past the boat at less than 15 yards. Then we anchored near the coast, in front of a popular beach for lunch and went back to the boat.
These last two days, today and tomorrow, we will take care of Papy Jovial and prepare her for the big jump towards South Africa.

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