July 2017 - Reunion

1 July 2017   Le Port, Reunion
I removed the stanchion that we bent on the passage to Rodrigues and went up the mast to remove the intermediate shroud, which has a broken wire.  Glenys went off to buy a SIM card and hire a car for three days.  Meanwhile, I walked a mile around to the other side of the port to where all the marine businesses are based.  Unfortunately, they were all closed because it’s a Saturday - ancient France…

I called at the marina office and met the manager, Jerome, who speaks excellent English.  He gave me some pointers on where to get various repairs done and then spent 30 minutes giving me some good information on places to hike.  

More French than France

Back at the boat, I spent the afternoon researching into hikes - using an excellent website (http://www.randopitons.re/randonnees/carte ).  There are so many options, but we decided to go up to Cilaos for two nights.  Glenys booked us into self-catering house, which has three bedrooms, but seems to be the cheapest accommodation available at €40 per night. 

2 July 2017   Le Port, Reunion
Being a Sunday, everywhere was shut up tight, so we had another day on board, preparing to leave the boat. I pickled water-maker, checked the ropes and removed everything from the deck that may be a temptation to passers-by.  We spent the afternoon researching hiking and buying a few more things to pick up in the UK.

3 July 2017   Le Port, Reunion
We picked up the hire car.  It was from a dodgy looking place and was a bit of a wreck, but we had no choice.  Before heading off into the mountains, we did some running about and dropped our intermediate shroud off at a rigger, who will get us a quote.   He will be ordering it from France and couldn’t guarantee the delivery time - holidays in France and strikes, so deliveries are apparently intermittent, which doesn’t sound good.

On the other side of the fishing port, we found a stainless steel fabricator to repair our bent stanchion.  He will cut out the bent bit and weld in a new piece.  After a quick stop at a supermarket, we managed to get on our way by eleven o’clock, taking the motorway heading south.   We had lunch at a road side eatery near one of the many sea-side towns and then headed up the fantastic winding road to Celios.

Cirque de Cilaos

Reunion is a volcanic island and has three, huge, ancient volcanic craters called Cirques, which form the mountainous centre of the island.  The Cirques are called Salazie, Cilaos and Mafate and it’s possible to walk from one to the next.  The Cirque de Cilaos is about five miles in diameter with the crater rim stretching up to an impressive 3,000 metres with very steep sides.  The inside of the crater is covered by dense vegetation and there are a plethora of marked trails both inside and grinding up to the crater rim.  

Glenys had booked us a three bedroom house, which was much cheaper than staying in a Gite or Bed & Breakfast.   The house is a bit basic, but it’s clean and self-catering, so we can chose where to eat in the evening.   Best of all it has a log fire, which we lit later in the afternoon, when it started to get cold.

We walked around the small town, which has some quaint, old-fashioned general stores.  In the evening, we went out for a meal and had traditional mountain food - Pork Chop and Duck with Vanilla, both served with rice and lentils which are locally grown speciality.  The meals were huge and very tasty.

4 July 2017   Le Port, Reunion
It absolutely threw it down last night and the sky was very grey in the morning, so we donned our waterproofs and walked down to the car park next to the church.  The trails are all well marked and we elected to walk on a route that circles the town.  From the car park, we descended through pleasant forest going down to a waterfall called Cascade du Bras Rouge. 

The waterfall that we could see from the path was unimpressive and the rocks were incredibly slippery, so didn’t explore.  The rest of the 5½ hour hike went up and down the sides of steep ravines and ended on a path over the top of Celios town.   There are a few impressive views, but most of the hike was in the rain forest, so we were a little disappointed - we like exposed ridges and walking up to peaks. 

Hiking in Celios

We made it back to the house by 14:30, time for a beer, a Tarte de Pomme and then a quick nap.  In the evening went out for another traditional meal - again served with lentils. 

5 July 2017   Le Port, Reunion
We woke to a beautiful blue sky day.  Unfortunately, Glenys injured her knee yesterday and didn’t feel up to a long hike, so we drove up to a look-out point called La Fenetra, which is on the upper edge of the volcano rim.  There was a fabulous view across the Cirque to the town of Celios.  We were glad that we headed up there early because by 11:00, the cloud had rolled in and the view was gone.

After a short hike and lunch sitting on a rock admiring the view, we drove down to the coast road and stopped off at a couple of places, but it was too damn hot, so we headed back to the boat and ran some errands before dropping the car back.  The rigger hadn’t obtained a quote, so I took our broken intermediate stay back and order two new ones to be made when we get back to the UK. 

We tried to arrange a taxi to take us to the airport at St Denis, but there aren’t many taxi firms around and the cost is astronomical - €60 for the one way trip.  While chatting to some of the local boat owners in the marina, I found a young guy who works in Le Port, but lives in St Denis.  He’s willing to drop us off at the airport for €20, which we gladly accepted. 

6 July 2017   Le Port, Reunion
I was up early to go around to SS Fabricator to pick up our stanchion.  They’ve done a reasonable job, but haven’t polished it because they don’t have the buffing gear, so I’m going to have to do it before I fit it back on the boat.

While dealing with the locals, I’ve found that many don’t speak English and are rather intolerant of people struggling with their language.  I had a classic conversation with a guy at the local chandlers - he spoke no English and my French is very limited.  

I said, “Je voudrais un filter de l'eau”.   (“Filter” pronounced with a northern English accent)
Totally blank look.
I try again, “Un fil-ter”.
Frenchman shakes head.
“Un Fil-ture?”
“Un Filteur?
“Ah, un filtre”….

Give me strength…

We spent the afternoon doing some final jobs before leaving for UK.