Ashkeling 2005/6 trip - Réunion     Last Updated: 15-Mar-06

 

17-Jan-2006 Mauritius to Réunion

The flight to Réunion was just a skip and a hop and all over in less than an hour. Unfortunately, the car reservation at Rent-A-Car that we made over the internet was not registered, so we had to shop around and get another one at Sixt, which was very reliable and cooperative on our many trips into the mountains.

During the landing we spotted a Carrefour (a french version of Walmart) nearby, and made that our first stop of real shopping since Dubai and our first stop in Réunion. Well, second, because it did not open until 10 am, so we had some caffeinated beverages in a little bar before while we were waiting. We stocked up on DEET sprays and other mosquito related items (refills for the electric repellants, mosquito nets, etc), since our one REI 98% DEET bottle seemed thoroughly insufficient in light of Chikungunya in Réunion and Mauritius (Seychelles supposedly just had the first recorded case while we were there), and Malaria and possibly Chikungunya in Madagascar. So we got twice as much as we thought we could use, just because we could, and still needed to get more 2.5 weeks later. We also got umbrellas, a SIM card for the phone and other day-to-day things for a week in a car.

Looking at the weather, we decided to go around the island in clockwise fashion, and started at Maison de la Vanille in St-Andre. (We later found out that San Andre was the epicenter of the Chikungunya epidemic). Maison de la Vanille was written up as one of the very few places that had tours in English. When we arrived, we learned the French tour had just started and we should join it, since they do not have any English tours. So we did the best we could. The video was very informative (assuming that we actually understood anything correctly), and the crate of vanilla shown was very impressive. When we were stocking up on gifts and got all our questions that came up in the tour answered, we learned that


Ripening orchid pods

Video tour outside the drying area

Drying pods

Measuring and sorting area

150 lbs of completely cured pods

After a short search we found a typical working class restaurant in an office building nearby - Creole Café - for lunch. There were three Plats du jour and we had sausage, chicken with bananas, beans, and hot sauce. It was a very tasty mix of French and Creole cuisine for a few dollars per person.


Sausage and rice

Sated, we headed up a steep and narrow ravine studded with waterfalls to Cirque de Salazie, one of the three mountain groups that are interconnected only by hiking paths. The cirques are three steep collapsed calderas which surround Piton des Neiges, an extinct volcano and the highest point on the island. To reach the cirques by car one has to circumnavigate the island and drive up three different roads. Réunion has thousands of kilometers of very well marked and well managed hiking paths; these are supported by mountain lodges and B&Bs (unpretentious rooms in a private home (often farm-stay), common in continental Europe, and which have none of the frills and cost a fraction of their US counterparts).


Steep ravine up

Just a road ...

... and Rivière du Mât

Waterfalls everywhere

Large and ...

... small
Cirque de Salazie is a caldera with an over-grown lava dome in the center and a road that leads almost half-way around, climbing up both the center dome and the rim. The valley is around 1000 m above sea level and the mountain peaks surrounding it reach over 3000 m. It is very green, and when we were there, it was surrounded by hide-and-seek clouds. The basic rule was - if you peek a mountain peak or want to make any picture over some distance, just take it, it may be gone in 30 seconds. Most of the valleys were covered with chouchoux vines. Cirque de Salazie considers itself to have the best chouchoux. The same as a chayote, the fruit tastes similar to a squash, but it and the plant it grows on look nothing like a squash. It was nice and cool and we saw lots of mosquitoes (moustiques).


Peek a peak?

 

 

Caldera and rim

Waterfall harnessed for irrigation

Chouchoux vines

everywhere

We stayed the night in Hell-Bourg, a cute and touristy village. It has numerous older Creole mansions since it has been a popular weekend get-away for a long time, due to the yearround cooler climate. Hell-Bourg (named after former governor Admiral Hell) is considered one of the most beautiful villages in France (it's on the city's sign). It was a hot spring town until the spring was closed by a landslide in 1948. The idyllic picture was rounded out by an old duck herder walking up and down the main street with his flock of about 10. (His main job seemed to be to add local character.)


Main street after tourists have gone for the evening

Picturesque Duck herder

Creole vacation villa

Lived in yearround

Balcony with bird cage

More colorful and newer?

Wood carvings



Windows,

windows,

windows

We had dinner at Chez Alice, which looked like a very touristy place from the outside, but was quite down-to-earth inside. We had chouchoux tarte, crudite, beef stew & carrots, ananas (that is pineapple) nature, and Bourbon beer. Réunion's former name was Isle de Bourbon, and today Bourbon still shows up in many company names. So one can get Bourbon beer, rum, sugar, and so on.


Salad and Chouchoux quiche

Chouchoux daube and beef stew

Ananas nature

 

18-Jan-2006 Réunion - East Coast

After spending the night sleeping in a volcano, we awoke to a beautiful fresh morning. The hotel (La Mandoze) was more like a hostel (with shared bathrooms and live evening entertainment by the guests (music or talk)), and by the time we got in for breakfast, the conversation at the long table was well in gear. It did not matter that we did not speak French; they helped us get seated and arranged. It was a typical French breakfast, with big bowls for coffee and tea, and baguettes with butter and preserves (in this case, mango, banana, guava, and peach, plus lychee honey). No one really spoke English to us, but it worked.


La Mandoze backyard

Room

We headed down the mountain to Bras-Panon and the Vanilla Cooperative. They did not have English tours, and the price of vanilla was much more than the previous day's, so we headed to the restaurant. (C'mon, what else would YOU do?) We ordered the vanilla specialties. The starters were a salad with chicken livers and another with poached eggs. The dressing on the latter had a slight hint of vanilla. For the main course, we split the vanilla chicken, but it again lacked the flavor. Dessert's ice cream certainly was vanilla, but the papaya was just preserved papaya. The vanilla coffee was just coffee. Overall, while the food was tasty, it did not follow through on its promise.


Vanilla starters

Vanilla main

Vanilla dessert

Heading clockwise around the island, we next came to an old suspension bridge which has been replaced by a characterless concrete bridge. It was a nice stop for a few (dozen) pictures. A little father South we came to Our Lady of the Lava (Notre Dame de Lave), a small church which was untouched by a 1977 lava flow. Its stained glass windows tell the story. Just a few feet from the front of the church, the flow split into two; it rejoined just after it. A miracle. To the right is a statue of the Virgin Mary holding a blue umbrella. It was originally erected by a farmer to protect his sugar cane fields from lava flows. When a lava flow threatened the statue, they moved it to an new location, and later, to the church. Just to the left of the church is the pharmacy of the lava. It sells suntan lotion, and ointment for burns, among other things.


Old suspension bridge on East Coast
 

Panorama of the bridge
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Church on the way (Salazie)

Detail of Eglise de Sainte-Anne

Eglise de Sainte-Anne

Notre Dame de Lave

A miracle!

Pharmacy of Lava

Church of Notre Dame de Lave

Stairs cut into the lava

Stained glass detail

Church of Lava - inside

Lava around trees
Driving onwards, we suddenly found ourselves on the surface of the moon. A very black moon. We were in the midst of a several year old lava flow. We looked up to the volcano and could see a wall steaming far above us. Down where we were, there was a snack bar. For the next few kilometers, we encountered several more flows, each one marked with a date stone; the most recent one was from 2004.


The lava field quickly sprouts a road and snack coach
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Active volcano

Creating its own weather

A road leads through it

Tall plants after only 3 years

2004 flow limit marker

New tree sprouts

New fern

Looks like cake mix

Different elements

Gas bubbles

Flow to the sea

More cake mix

Just before leaving the lava field, we stopped off at Anse Cascade, where lava cliffs end at the sea. There are waterfalls and a small boat ramp.


Lava beach along the road

Anse Cascade

A river flows in it

Lava waterfall

Palm forest

Marina

 

We continued around to the south coast, stopped briefly at an internet café (where they booted us off after 15 minutes because they were closing), and then headed inland and upward. Along the way, Roswitha phoned B&Bs until she found one less than an hour away from the volcano crater. As we drove up to it, it seemed that we had suddenly been transported to Switzerland. There were pastures and cows; this was Réunion's milk country. Our B&B turned out to be in a farmhouse. Our hostess, Chantal, turned out to be a wonderful lady who welcomed us. She also had two other guests, a couple from France. With a mixture of French and English, we talked over a great home-cooked meal (salad with salmon and tuna), Creole shrimp, an omelet (for Scott), Creole eggs, and rice. Chantal's chile sauce prompted a chile conversation (imagine that); when Scott surprised her by saying that her sauce was only about a 4 on his scale, she jumped up and got a jar of her special sauce. Her devious smile turned to surprise when Scott told her that her reserve sauce, while very tasty, was only a 7. The French couple had climbed the volcano that morning, and suggested that we get as early a start as possible in the morning for our attempt. So, we planned to.


Salmon and tuna salad

Sumptuous mains

Beignets for dessert

 

19-Jan-2006 Réunion - Where the clouds come to play

We tempted the volcano, and it let us go.

An early French breakfast sent us on our way, but maybe not early enough. When we arrived at the Maison de Volcan, it was cold and raining viciously. The day did not bode well for our attempt on the summit. Carrying umbrellas, we started to descend the switchback stairway of Pas de Bellecombe, down 150 meters to the plain of the outer crater. Along the way, we met other Randonneurs (hikers), including two women who are sailing for a year on the tall ship Picton Castle. They were coming back; they had started much earlier, but gave up when the weather stayed bad. As we hit the plain, the clouds lifted a bit, although we still could not see the peak of Piton de la Fournaise, Réunion's active volcano. We decided to forge ahead, in the hope that the weather would clear enough for an attack on the summit.


Looking downhill to the coast
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The volcano starts above Switzerland
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Pastures below

Piton des Neiges

Further down the road

Crossing Plaine des Sables (Sand Plain)

Continuing on Route du Volcan

The outer 10 km diameter Enclos Fouque crater is a floor of twisted frozen lava which rings the central cone. It is mostly a desert, although there are a few hearty plants attempting to get a foothold. This is in stark contrast to the outer wall we'd descended at Pas de Bellecombe, which is like a lush rainforest. Our path is well marked as a continuous series of white spots spray-painted onto the rock. Even in a near whiteout, it would be possible to see the next spot. (It could not be said, however, that the path was always the easiest route; it was mostly a suggestion.) The first feature we encountered was Formica Leo, a cinder cone about half a quarter mile in diameter which formed in 1857. Somehow, it did not look like it was made of Formica®. The plain slowly started to slope upwards from 2350 meters above sea level to the first vents. One was called the Cathedral of the Lava; it signaled the start of the steep climb up the central cone's slope, which would end at around 2630 meters.


Walking into the fog from the parking lot and hut

After walking down 150' to Formica Leo

Landscape on the way

White dots indicate the path

Taking a rest before climbing

Different plants along the plain

Fern

Grasses

This was all the way on top

By this time, the clouds had cleared, and we could see several features, including lava flows of different materials. Picking our way across the plain was tough, but the slope was more challenging. Not only because of the 30+ degree slope, but because the surface was very rough. It was composed of more twisted lava, and also loose cinders. As we walked, we could see fascinating changes in the rock, with variations in density, bubble inclusions, colors, and compositions. Some of it looked like piles of excrement, and we realized that we were, indeed, walking over volcano poop. We started noticing fine gold-colored filaments which seemed to litter the ground everywhere. At first we though that they might be part of the trash we saw all over, or had come from plants, but there were far too many caught in cracks and wrinkles. Scott eventually came to the conclusion that they are crystal fibers of iron pyrite or Fool's Gold; He'll have to look into it once he gets back home. (David (on the WELL) has identified it as Pele's Hair, a form of volcanic glass which is stretched by the flow of the lava.) We found rocks which seemed to have inclusions of it. Many of the rocks were hollow, either as frozen bubbles or gas tubes. Some were rather fragile, and had broken or sounded hollow under our feet. There were even places where the rock was so brittle that it broke like a crust as we stepped on it.


Volcano poop

Eye or wishbone?

Scott inspecting vents

Close up

Ripples

Rib cage or wings?

Strings

Black, red and yellow powders

Strong yellow strings (sulfur?)

Sulfur center far below us on the crater floor

Traces along the Dolomieu crater floor; these are huge

Reds and yellows

Rainbow

Colorful hole

Silver hair

Silver strings

Golden threads - Pele's Hair

Threads of Pele's Hair piling up at many places

We eventually reached the rim of the first inner crater (after about 3 hours of walking), and looked down into a crème brulee of frozen lava. This was Bory crater, with a diameter of 300 m. There was no fresh activity, but it still looked like an alien moonscape, in black. After a bit of celebratory chocolate (with lychee filling), we started to circumnavigate the rims of the two main craters to reach the 1 km diameter Dolomieu. Crevasses radiated out from the rim walls, but none were too large to jump across. When we got to the rim of the second, larger crater, we could see numerous vents which released wisps of gas, and we could smell the sulphurous brimstone.


View from the top (upper left is the road through Plaine des Sables, we walked from the rim)

Top of Bory crater at around 2600 m; note the people on the peak

Second, larger crater of Dolomieu, 1 km across

Rim of Dolomieu crater

Secondary second crater

Still

steaming

Crevasse

Dormant vent, about 50 m across

Halfway around the large crater (four hours after we'd started), we stopped for lunch, perched on the crater wall. We'd brought a simple spread of baguettes, sausages, and Laughing Cow cheese. This was the side under which we'd driven the day before, but we could not really see down to the water because of the constant clouds hanging on the eastern slope. So, getting quite tired at this point, we trudged the rest of the way around and descended back to the plain of the Enclos Fouque. (We're making this description short, but it was long, tiresome, and painful picking our way along and downhill over the loose and brittle lava.) As we approached the plain, we could see a standoff between the low eastern clouds and the cloud-free plain. We were lucky the whole day; except for the early rain, the day had been clear, with enough clouds drifting past to make it interesting and cooler. Thank you, La Fournaise, for a great but exhausting day.


Mhmm, mhmm
 

Picnic perched on the edge of 1 km Dolomieu (after 5 hours of walking)
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View to the East Coast

Climbing back down the inner crater

and across the outer crater

Looking back to the top past Formica Leo

Formica Leo from the rim

Heading back up

the last 150' of steps (round trip 9 hours for us)

Exhausted after picking our way back and up the caldera wall, we reached the car and turned on the air conditioner for the long drive back down the hill to St-Pierre on the sea. After checking in there, having a swim, and cleaning up a bit, we headed out for dinner at El Pueblo Tapas Bar (green salad, Jamón Serrano, a salad of white asparagus, Jamón, and duck gizzards, and a vin rouge de pays), and then a bit of internet to figure out what to do in Madagascar.


El Peublo Tapas

 

20-Jan-2006 Réunion - Eden

We dejeunered our petites at the Café de la Gare (although there is no train on the island), and continued our clockwise drive to St-Pierre's cemetery to view the grave of La Sitarane, a guy who headed a gang that used to murder people in their homes and then use body bits for occult purposes. He and the gang were eventually caught and executed, but his grave is now a place where people go to leave offerings when they want to cast spells on others. As we got to his red grave, two women were leaving an offering of ten lit cigarettes. An apparently addled guy smoked some of them before they burned down. We were considering leaving our bottle of leftover Dubai vodka, but could not really think of anyone adequately deserving.


Petites Dejeunes

St-Pierre Cimetière
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Very crowded and uniform?

Seven in one?

Varying

ethnicities

and styles

Sitarane - Gris Gris Legend

Imagine midnight rituals in the pit

Cigarettes offered

Candles

Liquor
Vodka still in hand, we drove (part of it on an actual dual carriageway!) up the west side of the island and into the hills to St-Gilles la Haute, where we got the key for the B&B where we'll spend the next two nights. It is a little house standing in the middle of a sugar cane field. The town has a popular restaurant, L'Imprevu (72, rue Joseph Hubert, tel. 02.62.55.36.34), which is decorated inside and out in the Creole style. We started with a an Italian salad (with gorgonzola) and a Salade Fraîcheur, composed of various fruits, lettuce, tomatoes, and mozzarella. My main course was pizza Piton de la Fournaise, to commemorate our climb. It had a little volcano in the center, and included chorizo and an egg. Roswitha had Tomates Confites aux 10 Saveurs (a sweet 10 flavour tomato) for dessert, a baked tomato filled with various citrus, spices, nuts, and other fruit; it was very creative and tasty. With our bill they presented us with the liqueur of the house, a creamy and spiced bit of sweetness. We can definitely recommend the restaurant.


Our little B&B between sugar fields and mango grove above the ocean

Salades fraîcheur et italienne

Piton de la Fournaise et Tomates Confites aux 10 Saveurs

Rhum de la Maison

Sated, we drove back down the hill to the Garden of Eden, a personal project which collects indigenous and exotic plants into a several acre space, subdivided into sections such as Culinary, Spices, Medicinal, Aqueous, Aphrodisiac, and so on. The Zen Rock garden was a little more ostentatious than one would imagine in Japan. They have quite a few interesting ones, including, surprisingly, Cannabis Sativa and Coca. Plants are healthy and well labeled, and they provide guidebooks in numerous languages to give more information. Some locations also have signs with further detail (in French only) about the concepts of the section, including special kid's tips delivered by a cartoon chameleon. Looking at one plant, we suddenly realized that there was a chameleon perched in it, although it was not amused by our attentions. We started to see signs cautioning to not use flash when photographing them. We eventually found two more in other parts of the garden, plus a dead one on the path to the garden entrance. The woman at the front desk did not know how many there were, but guessed that there might be 30.


Rice and Papyrus

Madagascar Fody

Raised walkway through rice

Lava stone ...

... in rock garden with volcano (front right)

Guess what!

Porcelain Flower

Flame Tree

Dates

Lotus flowers

 

 

 



Dead chameleon (this was the first one we saw)

Live chameleons -


The next stop was the center of St-Gilles la Bains (not to be confused with la Haute), the main beach town on the island. It was a bustling little place, and we found the tourist office and a place to leave laundry. (You cannot appreciate how much we needed to find this place.) The next big town up the coast is St-Louis, which has a big Friday market. The road there hugged the coast, and reminded us of Big Sur and Devil's Slide in California. The market is right on the beach, traffic jam and all. We were expecting a bit of a touristy thing, but it was actually huge, crowded with an amazing range of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, fish, flowers, honey, and home-made things like sauces, cakes, candies, samosas, juices, and too many others to mention. There were also touristy items like carved wooden geckoes and Renault 4s, but also practical items like baskets, soaps, and clothing. It was just like a similiar market in Provence. Its area was probably a bit larger than a football field, but sat next to a black sand beach with crashing waves.


St-Louis Friday Market

Has everything from raffia bags ...

... to metal utensils

Souvenirs

Dolls

Shells

It is right on a black sand beach

A huge candied fruit and vegetable stand

Almost anything can be candied

Price controlled French Bread!

Fresh fish

Rotiserie (Duck, Lamb, Pork, 2 types of Chicken)

Fresh Eggs

Need some herbs?

Thyme

And the vegetables! Corn

Aubergines (Eggplant)

Peppers

Tomatoes and Chouchoux

Taro

String beans

Bitter melon

Greens

Onions

And, of course, garlic

Beans

Dried spices

Hot sauce and pickles

Pickled Lemons, etc.

And of course fruit: Ananas (pineapple)

Coconut

Everything for Pina Coladas (oops, wrong hemisphere)

Passion fruit

Melon

Dragon fruit and passion fruit

Lychees (although these were the last ones for the season)

Mixed fruit including bread fruit

Longans

And finally, flowers

 

 

On the way out of St-Pierre, we stopped at the town's cemetery, which hosts many celebrities, although we were after just one, La Buse, a pirate who was hanged in Réunion. Appropriately, his grave has a skull and cross-bones. As he was being led to the gallows, he threw out a piece of paper with a cryptogram and yelled, "My treasure for anyone smart enough to understand." In over 200 years, it has not been found, although it is believed to be in the Seychelles. A well-funded searcher is continuing his father's work digging just off of Bel Ombre on Mahe (right next to Beau Vallon).


La Buse Marker

Skull and crossbones

Other

graves

around

We watched the sun set on the beach back in St-Gilles les Bains, while sipping beverages. Then, across the street, we were attracted by the Le BarBeQue sign, although neither of us was especially hungry. I got a "vegetarian" salad because they were out of my first choice, the chevre (goat cheese) salad. Roswitha wanted to get a half order of moules frites (mussels and freedom fries), but they would not do that, so she ordered a salade de mar. Instead, they brought a ham salad. It was then exchanged for the right thing, but when the bill arrived, it seriously overcharged us. Oddly, the waitress seemed to know what we were pointing out almost before we did.


Sunset at the beach in St-Gilles les Bains

Le BarBeQue

 

21-Jan-2006 Réunion - Le Maïdo

You want to get up there by 7:00 AM or the cloud will cover everything. That is the standard logic, so we got an early start with breakfast at 8:00, and were on our way by almost 9. We were driving up to Le Maïdo, an overlook which peeks down into one of the Cirques, Marfat. (Remember that our first day was in la Cirque de Salazie.) A long time ago, much more than a week, a volcano arose and created a an island and a huge mountain. It eventually collapsed upon itself and got worn away by nature and earthquakes and tourists taking too many souvenirs. The remaining peak, now la Piton des Neiges, sits in the center of three huge circles arranged like a clover leaf around it. These are the three cirques. We drove up through cane fields, pastures with cows, towns, forests of trees resembling oaks, and a large camping area among the oak-like trees until we were above the tree line and hit the parking lot. A few more steps through scrub, and we were suddenly hanging out over an amazing (and, may I say, almost cloudless) view of la Cirque de Marfat. It is impossible to describe the scale and terrain, so just look at the pictures, dammit. We could see through a pass into Salazie, but could not see much detail there or within the third Cirque, Cilaos (although we had been drinking its mineral water). We were also able to see in the other direction down to the sea and St-Gilles and St-Louis. As we identified the numerous hiking trails, houses and villages within Marfat, the clouds slowly started to build.


One of the early hair pin turns

with a pedestrian bridge

1.5 hour drive uphill partially on small roads through meadows and woods with campers

and cows

Chez Louise for a drink after the drive

with open fire place

Spectators on the rim

Looking past Cirque Cilaos

How'd you like to live on a plateau like this?

Cirque Marfat direction Cirque Salazie (South East)

and view to South West

Part of the Cirque Marfat and tourists. Piton des Neiges (the volcano that started it all)
is the squared-off looking peak towards the center
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Heading back down towards the sea, we stopped off at a distillery which makes perfumes. oils, and such. La Distillerie de Maïdo is a ramshackle little place down a rain-gutter dirt road, but they had an amazing amount of potions and unguents made from geraniums, vanilla, vertier, thyme, rosemary, and many more we can't remember or hardly recognized. Originally, we had planned to stop at another distillery, L'Alambic, which lies a bit farther down the hill. Although we could see the still in action, their selection was insignificant compared to the previous one; they were just more touristy.


We followed this sign down a steep drive way

The still high above the tropical ocean where it is cooler

So much choice

At L'Alambic a wood fire heats ...
   
And the result is about 1 liter of geranium oil,
when it is finally separated from all the water

... a huge drum of geranium leaves with a little water (left),
steam gets cooled in coils in cold water (right)
   

Condensed steam goes through
final cooling step
   

"Two English walk into Chez Doudou. Kwaacque! Kwaacque!" That's how Doudou himself tried to explain the menu to some previous visitors who spoke no French. Apparently, we did a bit better in understanding them, so he did not have to resort to pantomime. His little restaurant is a bit farther down the hill, in le Petite France, and we got there just ahead of the crowd. We got two Creole dishes, Shrimp with Patol, an elongated vegetable, and Sausscion. These were served with red beans, rice, and a garlicky hot sauce made from mangoes and other stuff. ("Tres epicé!") The food was excellent, but Scott had to open his big mouth and tell Doudou that while it was good, it was not so forte (strong). So, Doudou pulled down a jar from the shelf and opened it for Scott - a homemade chile sauce with sunflower oil. That was good, and Scott even got a bit of an endorphin rush from it. Doudou was pleased. Go there. (Route du Maïdo, 02.62.32.55.87)


Chez Doudou (Doudou himself in yellow shirt inside the entrance)

Top-shelf home-made Rhum Arrangé (~15 bottles, with lychee, ginger, lemon, etc.)
 

Pineapple/Vanilla/Pomegranate
& Passionfruit Rhum

I'm eating what???

Sausscion, shrimp with patol, rice, beans and (wimpy) hotsauce

Feeling the heat!

Plummeting the rest of the way down the hill, we picked up our laundry, flung some bits into the internet, and then went to the St-Gilles les Bains Aquarium. If you've been to Boston's, Monterey's, Sydney's, or any major city's aquarium, then this cute little place is a bit of a letdown. Still, it has good themed exhibits and education (all in French), and, most importantly, air conditioning. There were some interesting fish, including an impressive assortment of scorpion fish, sea horses (and cousins), and a white-tipped shark. There was a fair amount of disease and lesions visible on many of the fish, however. Still, it was a fun way to kill an hour and cool off.


Yellow box fish

Looking out

Puffer fish

Sea horse holding on

Lion fish

(detail back fin)

Sea horse swimming

Shrimp

Sea scape

Neon fish

Angel fish







Barracuda

The tourist office had told us that we could find Séga or Maloya, two types of local music, at the local top hotels. We stuck our heads into a few, but could not find anything. So, we walk along the beach of L'Hermitage-les-Bains around sunset, admired the odd trees that have had the sand stripped away from their roots, and stopped in to have a light dinner at Coco Beach. Roswitha enjoyed fish carpaccio (sort of ceviche-ish), Scott enjoyed baked camembert, and a local beach cat got to enjoy a little of both. We finished it off with a vanilla crème brulee, and then rolled back up the hill to our room.


Exposed tree roots

Used as beach furniture

View from Coco Beach

Kitchen Gong

Baked camembert and raw fish

Crème brulee

 

22-Jan-2006 Leaving Réunion

We took time in the morning to pack, and heard a bit more about our landlady's brother-in-law's kid's wedding, which had been going on for the past two days. St-Denis, the capitol, was our next stop. We hit the city's botanic garden (yawn), the modern art museum (small, but somewhat interesting - they had an exhibit of David Rosenblum's photos of South Africa. He has a good eye and good sense of B&W, and the more modern art museum (great building and a striking exhibit of Thierry Fontaine's photos - very conceptual). We then hit L'Oasis restaurant at the St-Denis hotel for a final lunch. Roswitha finally got her Moules Frites, and Scott had steak tartare with Creole spicing.


Divided highway to St-Denis

Reclaimed from the sea

Roland Garros (accomplished aviator)


The garden's main attractions

 

were the many different sea roses

 




Steak tartare and Moules Frites

A guest stole some of our bread

 

Réunion lessons

 

 

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