Saturday, January 15, 2011

Volcano Expedition in Reunion Island (Dec. 1, 2011)

After three glorious days at sea, we arrived in Reunion Island.


The flag of Reunion Island...look at that! It's the flag of France!


Reunion Island is one of the overseas departments of France and has the same status as the mainland. French is the official language, although Creole is commonly spoken by a majority of the population. Reunion Island is about 63 km long and about 45 km wide. It has much in common with Hawaii as both islands sit above hotspots in the earth’s crust.

We tried to book a private tour of the island without any luck, so we went off on a Princess tour to see the volcanoes. The Piton de la Fournaise is an active volcano that most recently erupted in October. I am hoping to see some lava!

The pilot zoomed out to meet us and got on board.


We started out and the first thing we came across was a truck on the highway that had been on fire. They use these trucks to transport sugar cane, and the traffic on the other side of the highway was backed up for miles.

It was very lush and green and the roads were beautiful. This was no poverty stricken island. In fact, many people from France come to vacation here. It is such a long way to come!

The sky and the water were the same beautiful blue.

We spotted some parasailers.


Great beach spots with nice hotels...

The mountain ridges were so picturesque…

Lots of sugar cane…

One of two major plants remaining to process sugar cane. At one time there were 200 small processors.

Our guide, Jean Luc, passed around some postcards showing Reunion Island food, birds, fish and flowers.





Oh look! Flame trees! Heh, heh...



There were lovely flowers around every traffic circle. Summer was starting and everything was blooming.

Mmm....bananas…

I spotted this dog running along the street and he stopped at this bakery. As the bus went by, I saw him heading into the shop. Must be a daily stop for his croissant!

One of several little towns we passed through…


Gorgeous flowers down this little lane…

And more traffic circle flowers…

Some smaller well kept homes…



We passed by some people waiting for a bus. Public transportation on the island is not very reliable and so just about everyone has a car. We certainly noticed lots of traffic for such a small island. Jean Luc said it is a very young population in that about 25% is under 25 years of age. The unemployment rate is astronomical with about 27% of the population unemployed. We got the impression that some of the people are content not to work.

Heading up into the higher elevation now.

We reached a bit of a plateau…

Where we stopped for a toilet break. Why we stopped here, I am not sure. There was only one toilet and two Princess buses arrived at the same time. We spent almost 45 minutes here.

The washroom line-up...

A map in the gas station showed the different cirques or basins, which have been formed by the collapse of the large volcanic cone which gave birth to the island.

We were heading to the cirque on the lower right, which isn’t one of the three main cirques on the island.

Yay, I finally made it out of the washroom. The men were advised to find a spot behind the garage. Jim enjoying the sunshine…

More beautiful flowers…

And we’re off again…cattle grazing here…

Breathtaking…

And then the topography changed again and we were in a little forest. All the while, we were climbing.

Out of the forest and back to cattle grazing…

The road was very narrow and twisting. When we met a bus on a corner, someone had to back up. Our driver was Patrick, and he was amazing.

Now we were getting up into the clouds…


Jim was concerned about his breathing at this elevation, so I hoped we weren't going too much higher. He chose not to get out at this stop. I wish my pictures could do it justice.

The mountains were all covered in trees and it looked so soft and spongy.



The ground looked like a carpet…

Taken by one of our fellow passengers…

More clouds…



And the landscape changed again…now it was all brush and small trees.


A telecommunications tower for monitoring volcano activity.

This has not been blackened by volcanic activity but from a fire that was deliberately set. The penalties are huge…150,000€ and up to 10 years in jail.


The road was tiny and narrow and snaked through the landscape.

Hikers…crazy people, I say!

Jean Luc asked us if we wanted to play a game. He told us to close our eyes and only open them when he said so. So we played…and opened our eyes to a totally different landscape. It looked like the moon!



This is all part of the Piton de la Fournaise…altitude is 2260 m.

Look at the switchbacks!

We were heading down to the bottom of the crater. Look at the tiny cars!

But for now, we were still in the clouds.

Jim got out for a peek and was quite lightheaded. Hmm...this is a concern.

Lots of cameras out here…

And we were off again down the switchbacks…

Last part of the ride to the volcano…it was pretty barren here.



Ta-da! We have arrived!

Uh oh...the fog was rolling in.

Quite frankly, it was a bit of a letdown! No lava flows to see here, folks! The active volcano was on the other side of this mountain.

Let’s say the ride was definitely worth it, but the destination was a letdown!

The tiny little specks on the side of this crater…

Are people…crazy people because it was stinking hot!

We didn’t have too much time as it had taken us almost 4 hours to get here! With a few last looks, we had to get going…


The washrooms had some pictures of the volcanic activity. Now this is what I wanted to see!!




It was getting very foggy as we left. Good thing we arrived when we did, or we would have seen absolutely nothing.

The switchbacks in the distance that we had to go up…


Very foggy! Several times we met vehicles on the switchbacks and someone had to back up. Patrick was on his toes today.

At last we stopped for lunch at 2:00. There was no way we were going to make it back to the ship for 4:30. Jean Luc was totally unconcerned and we took 90 minutes for lunch!

We finally left the restaurant at 3:30 and we had at least a 90 minute drive.

Hydrangeas!

Not sure what this was, but it was very pretty.

The local train station now houses shops.

The traffic was building. Jean Luc had already received a call from the ship wondering where we were.  He is originally from France and said in his still thick accent “I told zem zis morning it is impozzible to be back by 4:30.”

A kitty cat!!

McDonald’s alive and well everywhere…

Neat graffiti…

At least we were back at sea level. Jim struggled all day for air…not a good thing.

We saw a sign for the port. We were getting there!

The local buses…

It took forever to get through the town and by this time, the ship had called Jean Luc three times. He was starting to make jokes about it, which was quite funny, but I am sure the ship's personnel were not too happy.

Ta-da! Back to the ship at last. The tugboat was waiting in front. I am sure that cost Princess something to have him wait for the hour we were late. When we got to the ship, they rolled the gangplank up behind us and we were off.

From here we could see the road we were on which followed the cliffs.

Big black clouds had rolled in…

Here comes the boat to take the pilot off. This guy was a real hot dogger!

Lots of driving today, but the scenery was beautiful.

And it’s on to Mauritius…

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great blog about La Reunion! I've been living here in l'Ermitage for nearly 3 years now and couldn't have done a better job myself!

Rina rosiana said...

obat aborsi

obat aborsi said...

thanks kakak