Wednesday, August 15, 2012

We have been quietly whiling away the time until our next voyage, which will be to Madagascar. We are going to head around the north end and visit there for about a month before we head to South Africa. The favoured time to head to South Africa is in October or November.  It is very expensive here on La Reunion so we have not been eating out as much as we have been used to.  Since leaving Australia it has been almost as cheap to eat out as to cook a meal on the boat.  I have convinced Barry that we should rent a car and go and see the volcano, apparently it is the same type that they have on Hawaii. 
The other day we took a stroll around to look at the old architecture in town.  We found city hall and then walked down a street that had lots of old buildings on it.  Crime must be quite a factor here because all the houses have big fences and then railings on top of the fences so that entry over the fence is almost prohibited, but the big thing for us is that you cannot see the houses.  Sometimes if you walk on the opposite side of the street you can catch a glance at the gems lying behind the walls.  I have enjoyed both here and on Mauritius taking note of the different types of railings, some are quite intricate, bent in different shapes and styles.  All the stores have pull down metal doors that cover all the windows and the doors on the shops once they close. 
St Denis old City Hall 

Yesterday we headed to the capital St. Denis on the bus.  St Pierre where we are staying is on the south coast of the island whereas St. Denis is on the north.  It was a lovely trip on the bus.  There was a double lane highway most of the way so traffic was not a problem.  We travelled along the coast line seeing beaches and the rocky shore. For the first half of the journey the land gradually sloped up until the mountain steepened.  There was a lot of housing in the sloping foothills, most of the population be concentrated along the shoreline before the mountainous region begins. As we got close to the northwest corner of the island the hills came down to meet the shore and there were dramatic vistas of the sheer drop offs from the tall hills into the sea. At one point the bus went through a 200m long tunnel, thank heavens it was quite a bit larger than the one we went through going up the mountains. 
My perspective from the second floor

Barry's lovely shot from the ground floor, what an eye he has!
St Denis had some lovely colonial buildings and we were able to tour through one of them learning about the life and houses along this interesting old street.   We headed toward the natural history museum thinking that our lack of French would not matter quite so much in there.  Unfortunately it was closed for renovations but we wandered around the lovely gardens instead.  We were fascinated by the old hotel de ville or city hall. It was very grand inside with a sweeping red carpeted staircase extending up to a grand ballroom on the second floor.  There was a lovely courtyard that contained a fountain with the statue of a maiden. It was diffused with sunlight and the beautiful curved portals and windows made a lovely picture.  For the most part the modern buildings here seem very stark and have ugly lines.  The roofs have no eaves which in my opinion make the houses and apartment buildings seem chopped off and have no flowing lines, the roof comes to the edge of the building and it just stops, yuck!   
St Denis valley, check out the apartment blocks with the roofs that just end
St Pierre is a party town.  The marina is located just opposite the main street, a strip of bars and cafes.  Each weekend night the music booms on until the wee hours, we have been woken at 0400 by screaming, hollering party goers.  Even if it is not the music in the bars the cars do a continuous loop around the waterfront with the tunes just cranked. As you know, sound carries across the water but when the cars take a left off the main drag and crawl through the parking lot located below street level the sound reverberates off the stone wall and thumps into our ear drums on the boat. There are few places to anchor around the island so maybe we should just go and join the party!

After our walk around town the other day there was a local Creole concert.  I had been hoping for some local music and this was my chance.  I stayed for about 6 acts, the first one was the only one with live music, actually just a rhythm section but it was very catchy.  The rest just sang along with a CD(boring), they had dancers as well and that kept my interest.  Lots of people in the crowd knew the songs and sang along so they must have been well known on the island.  It was a huge crowd and it was great to be part of it.