Mon 9 Jul 2012 09:20
9th July 2012
Just waiting for my connecting flight to London City, after my overnight AF flight up from Reunion. As the Lonely Planet observes, with due irony, the Air France flight is not a bargain. Top soften the blow I have to wait six hours here, for an off peak flight saving £200!
After lifting out in Reunion, and then being presented with a additional, unexpected bill, I quickly settled down on the hardstand. I have quite a big area to myself, and at each corner of this space there are rings set into the concrete to which we attach ropes from our deck cleats. Not sure that they do much, except mark our territory! The first night a man in a white van parked up beside me, neatly avoiding my ropes, and set up his computer on a table at the back of his van, using the free Wi Fi from the bar/cafe next to the hardstand. This is an excellent establishment, locals drink there all day long, and Le patron chats behind the bar whilst two pretty girls do all the work. They have learned to make my coffee with milk in it, but as I am the only person on the island who has milk in their coffee it keeps going off in the heat, and they have to open a fresh carton every other day. But I digress, this guy then plugs into the electricity pod for my stand area, cooks a meal, showers using the water tap on the 'pod', and turns in for the night in the back of his van. Same thing the next night, but we commence a relationship based around my French, so it is very limited, and I am unable to discover if he is legit, or what he does during the day. It seems however that he will still be here when I am long gone, so I am certainly not going to upset him! Come the weekend, a bike appeared from the back of his van, and with all the gear; lycra etc, he was offup into the hills! In the evenings I often eat at a cafe in the town: typical French with tables on the pavement, under a pull out shade. Madame, her husband, and her son run the place, and sometimes there is a pretty girl here too. Usually I am the only person eating. I ask if it is possible, and there is always a family discussion, and so far the answer is always 'yes, but not everything is available'. As there is no menu, this information is unhelpful. Madame then reels off what she has, and I say 'yes, please!' as soon as I recognise a word. Crevettes and sauscises are easy. It is cheap, and there is always ice cream to follow. Sometimes a coconut rum appears to round it off, sometimes not, but then sometimes when I think that I ordered the crevettes I don't recognise what is served. The entire experience is pleasantly uncertain.
Managed to get most of my jobs done, and rented a car for the final three days. Enjoyable, and almost cost effective, as I can drop off at the airport, and avoid the high cost of a taxi fare. An elderly red Clio, with a slipping fan belt, but great fun to drive, and I got to see something of the Island. The large coastal towns are not much to write home about, although the motorway that connects them is remarkable. In places they blasted away huge chunks cliff to make room for it along the shore line. By contrast, The 'hauts' are utterly spectacular. The road up to Cilaos has more hairpins than a haberdashery, and this village sits in a dramatic bowl, three thousand feet up, and surrounded by another layer of peaks. It is possible to do a walking circuit, it takes about a week and there are basic gites to sleep overnight. Closer to Le Port is the village of Dos d'Ane, half an hours drive from the boat, and from which it is possible to walk into the Island's Northern walking circuit: the Cirqe de Mafate. I managed a two hour walk on Sunday morning, underestimating the number of last minute jobs to be finished by the evening, and after setting off for the airport late and in a bit of a panic, I remembered halfway there that I had not turned off the gas: so back I went. All well in the end, and the flight was not completely full, so got an aisle seat, with an empty seat beside me. Just as well, as the window seat was occupied by a man with terminal pneumonia. I just hope that the AC was directing his respiratory droplets anywhere but in my direction.
That's it for now. Return in November, Madame looks forward to seeing me for my supper.