This morning all the BPOers squeezed into little cars and headed to the mountainous interior of the island. For starters we had to take a highway south for twenty miles or so, to rendezvous with an old friend of Luc’s, who had volunteered to be our guide. Traffic was heavy and slow. I thought we might be making a mistake — wasting one of our few days here, sitting in stop and go traffic.
But once we headed up, out of town, the scenery became pretty, and then splendid, and then magnificent. The highest peak on the island is over 10,000 feet. We drove crazy narrow switchback roads that rose to 4,000 feet.
Reunion is known for trekking. It would be awesome, if we had the time. We could hike the high rim of the old volcano, above where we were driving. But it would take about five days.
The road we drove is new. Yet there are villages here and there in high remote areas. Access previously by trek only. They call them islands. Why did such communities begin in the first place? Runaway slaves!
On the subject of island history, I find it interesting that before the French arrived, there were no people here. Very different from the Pacific, where the incredible voyagers in sailing canoes had found and populated almost every island. Reunion (and Mauritius) were too inaccessible. So the French began a settlement, and of course brought slaves to grow sugarcane. Today there is still lots of sugarcane, still harvested by hand. The pressed stalks, once waste, are now used to generate power for the island — enough for six months of the year. (They burn imported fossil fuels the other half of the year.)
Photos below. Also today we received our first weather summary from the “router” who will advise us for the potentially tricky passage to Durban. He says we have a good weather window ahead, and we should leave early Monday morning. So that’s the current plan. Finish provisioning tomorrow, then another day of exploring. Clear out that evening, and leave early in the morning. To Africa! This is getting exciting.