Having met the last challenge of arriving in Istanbul in time to board filghts, our next dose of adventure would come in the form of a week on the volcanic Ile de la Reunion, which rises dramatically through the Indian Ocean off the coast of Madagascar.
Our excuse for this part of our holiday was a friend’s wedding, who we know from Toulouse. On arrival we found out that our luggage had enjoyed the transfer in Paris so much that it would be staying there the night, and would be delivered to us the next day. No bother, there’s not much on a tropical island that needs much more than the shorts, T shirts and flip flops we had with us.
This bit of our trip got off to a bit of a sluggish start, aided in part by a lack of luggage and a dead hire (rental) car battery. But if we’re honest, the last frantic month of trip planning and truck work had a lot to answer for in this respect. The car’s mis-behaviour did at least give us the chance to rein-act Little Miss Sunshine scenes clumsily bump starting the car in a parking lot.
By Wednesday though, we could get back to the serious business of exploring the island; climbing volcanoes, searching out water falls, and finding out the hard way that if you want the views from any of the higher peaks without being surrounded by cloud then you either need to be ready and hiking at frightening o’clock in the morning, or you have to be lucky.
Our first ascent was the Island’s active volcano – currently going through a stable phase since the main crater had spectacularly emptied itself in December 2010, the lava trails from which we hiked across to get to the summit. We had not yet realised that the early bird catches the views, and were rewarded for our laziness with the volcano peak shrouded in cloud – we could still just about make out some steam coming from the bottom of the smouldering crater.
The next day was our first to the central cirques – huge ancient volcanic craters with peaks around the rims, with the highest being over 3000m above sea level. Still too lazy to earn our views we relied on luck, and for a short time it paid off – from a ridge between two of the circs the mid morning cloud cleared for long enough to take in the incredible views, and to get suitably trigger happy with the cameras.
The rest of the time on the Island was spent investigating beaches, drinking all of the Rum that a Czech tour group couldn’t manage (quite a lot, it turns out), and heading back into the Mountains.
Then finally, the wedding; a true hum-dinger of a party! An awesome day with new found friends and a few folk from Toulouse too. A vrai test of French for us both though, trying to get back to it after a few weeks – I don’t think I’m alone in saying that a fair chunk of the legal wedding ceremony, and Catholic Church service that followed went over our heads – but it was great to experience – and Varinka and Yann both looked super happy throughout. Any wedding where the dance floor is full before the dinner’s even started gets our seal of approval.
It was definitely a shame to be leaving La Reunion behind not having really done any research before hand we were surprised just how much we found there, and will be keeping our eyes out for an excuse to get back there for sure. It had made for a perfect holiday from our holiday, and once back in Turkey the real challenge of the trip would be waiting for us – to get to the Kyrgyzstan border with China by the 20th of June.