Beneath the Blue Moon and photo file one
Birthday Party beneath a Blue Halloween Moon
The werewolves were still in hiding as our friendly group of sailing families met under the hibiscus to celebrate the ninth birthday of Andre and Eva’s (from Mirabella) eldest daughter; her name is a pretty Israeli name which I am afraid I do not know, but will convey to you as soon as I find out.
It was amazing to think that the ‘blue moon’, the rare second full moon in October could for the first time since 1944 be seen all around the world on the eve and night of All Hallows, 31st October and will not been seen again by the whole world for another 19 years. It made the birthday party very special but it was not the only reason for it feeling like a special time for us to gather.
The group of sailors in Titan Marina may be temporary and transient but it is also strong, multi-national and warm. The uncertain future of a landfall in South Africa was for a few happy hours put on hold while the adults chatted and enjoyed watching the children, attired and plastered in Halloween garb, run freely and noisily around the quiet road area, being young, energetic and a little hyper from all the ‘trick or treat’ sweets they had procured on their very successful perambulations of the marina a couple of hours before.
Marjolein from Jori brought a home-made cheesecake complete with candles and we all sang happy birthday. The birthday girl spread out the opening of her presents over the whole evening, her mom, Eva said she liked to make happy things last. Her mom also said that our gift of a cross stitch tapestry of a pink flamingo was perfect because her daughter loved to do crafts to pass the time as sea, so Marjolein’s colouring book also hit the nail on the head.
The placid stray mutts, now more comfortable with the latest batch of strangers than when we first arrived, were eyeing the food laid out as a tempting picnic for all-comers, four legged included, on the soft grass. The one who frequents our area, with his hang down ears and blonde eyebrows, now lets me stroke him, and his friend, a young bitch who looks as if she has already had a litter, is destined to be flown to France soon to be re-homed once her battle wound on her front leg has healed. A Spanish couple took her to the vet to have the wound looked at and have arranged her ‘salvation’ despite her having a life and fellow companions right here. There hearts are in the right place I believe.
When we first arrived at the party I noticed there were no bottles of wine, I guessed because it was a young ladies party, so we kept ours in their little woven bag. But then Eva came along, “A little champagne Barb, Rob?” and the celebrations started to swing.
Chats over sail repairs, over-heating engines, future plans, whether to have a free local Covid Test or not, went on until just before 9.00pm when one of the Italians sang a song while strumming his guitar and the evening wound down, the mutts seeing their chances improving with the remaining dishes being unattended.
Now, back to our trip.
Pairs of white-tailed tropic birds contrasted against the green on the mountains in the steep-sided valley as we retraced our track from the day before. Salazie is one of the four main villages located in this cirque and benefits from a sizeable permanent population and the many visitors who come in healthier times. There are many schools suggesting the future of the island as an attractive place to live and raise a family is secure. These inland villages lack the rat race feel of the coastal towns where National Highways are a magnet to traffic and the inevitable, stressful traffic jams.
Fortunately the N2 divides just where we joined it from our valley road so we were able to bypass Bras Panon and St Benoit and turn a droite, to the right onto the N3 heading for La Plaine des Palmistes and in particular the Domaine des Tourelles, Place of Turrets, which is much more than a souvenir shop. The restored home of a once prestigious family the commodious building and the surrounding small ateliers in the grounds are a window onto the cultural and craft activities of the islands inhabitants. Perfumiers, bronze and pottery crafts, a distillery and brewery, candle wax carvers, herbalists, basket weavers are just a few of the activities to be enjoyed and the site educates school children on the art of sand drawings, horticulture, herbal medicine and small industrial processes such as distilling and brewing.
I weakened to a jar of honey, some Frangipani Perfume, the first I have found to really smell like the real thing, a small relief map of the island to show the 3 calderas of Piton des Neiges and the very live Piton de la Fournaise volcano and Rob decided on the Rhum after a tasting of it and some gin and something similar to Vodka, but not given that specific name for fear of the Russians!
The valley was wider than the one to Salazie and there were good sized fields and plantations but the bends over the next few miles were every bit as hair-raising as the day before. Holsteins and honey brown cows grazed the lush grass or queued up to be milked and rows of maize stood like marching soldiers across the landscape.
I had booked a room in a guest house in Bourg-Murat and we located it before visiting the modern Cite du Volcan Museum which was well worth the time. Our Norwegian friends, Irene and Svein told us how they had walked the five hour walk to the rim of Fournaise when they were on their way home from New Zealand on Lovinda Two in 2017, a few months after it erupted and it has had numerous minor eruptions since then, including the one in 2018 shown on the postcard, behind the Rum.
We drove from Bourg-Murat up, up and even further up to 2136 metres across the low flat Plaine de Remparts and parked in the car park on the postcard near the Pas de Bellecombe in the pouring rain. Many cars had passed us on the way up and we surmised they had started out early for the five hour walk across the Enclos Fouque (the skirt, lower slope) to reach the rim for a look over the top at the moody, stinky cauldron, ever ready to explode into life. You know me. I was quite happy to stand not far from the car park and a very safe distance inland from any possible lava flow, and watch the tiny, humanoid dots walking to and fro for their ‘once in a lifetime’ (a well thrashed phrase if ever there was one) thrill. Memories of the tragedy at White Island off Auckland came to mind.
The rain stopped and miraculously the cloud rose above the 2632 metre summit just for a few seconds so Rob could get his Facebook pic (!)
We became mesmerized as we crawled along behind the recovery vehicle back across the Plaine des Sables until a car behind us whizzed past and we decided to do the same. What a place to break down; the recovery driver had an interesting drive ahead, some of those bends were a challenge even for our little car, let alone a long load with the car tied down at two wheels only.
Back at our guest house the lady of the house welcomed us into a very new reception area complete with open plan lounge one side and breakfast table the other and promptly told us the area was closed and locked after 6.00pm and we would use the access through the garden and around the back after then. While fetching our bags from the car Rob came across a very young puppy in a cage tucked in a recess to the side of the house. It was one of those short grey-coated boxer type dogs that cost a small fortune and looked far from comfortable with just a t-shirt on concrete to lie on. Why, I ask?
Supper that night required no driving, just a short walk down to Restaurant la Kaz where the young gentleman, originally from Senegal and raised for 5 years of his youth in Bolton, and a fellow vegetarian, served Rob a sweet African Curry from his own region and me a vegetable stir fry with a local lentil side dish and chips. Because we were full our liquid desert was a taste of two local rums, on the house.
There are two photo files to this blog dear readers.