Mon 29th Oct Reunion west coast
Having settled in nicely to a slip on arrival on Sunday morning, it turned out that the slip
owners were due in at any time from Madagascar so I had to move to the now-empty visitors'
dock - with the bonus of no berthing charges & free electricity & water!! "Bowtie Lady" was
berthed adjacent to "Nereida" & we later walked into Le Port (NOT St Denis, as I'd thought!)
and, having heard that buses are not convenient for getting about the island, shared the
cost of car hire for 4 days at 100 Euros (seemed really cheap although the car was very
knocked about & in need of some basic maintenance - but it kept going OK, apart from
developing a flat tyre!).
An immediate short tour of the coast south of Le Port seemed in order - dramatic black
basalt rocky coastline somewhat reminiscent of Cornwall but not so high) alternating with
sandy beaches backed by tamarind trees. Went down to Salines-les-Bains - nice beach with
windsurfers & kitesurfers - and then back up to St-Gilles-les-Bains - little harbour crammed
with small fishing boats and with surfers off beach to north of entrance. (Had grilled fish
& chips at 'Chez Joseph' - well-known local fisherman) Took a wrong turn at one point early
on and ended up on a raised little windy road going uphill - gets rather worrying when cars
come at you at speed around bends - nowhere really to go to get out of their way without
ending up toppling over a very steep edge into a deep ditch!! Lots of motorbikers also,
overtaking at breakneck speed on the main roads, weaving in & out of the busy traffic.
It seemed very odd to me to be in such French surroundings - Reunion very recently became a 'departement' of France and switched to the Euro from the Franc - with a consequent 50% hike in living costs! A big new motorway is being built with EC funding to relieve the major traffic jams regularly encountered along the coast. The small towns and villages are a mix of gaily painted old Creole buildings, with 'gingerbread' wooden latticework adorning the facades & interesting small-paned windows, & modern French buildings & houses with many resort hotels.
Life is precious - make the most of it!