|Craig's 'Driving through Southern France moustache'|
It didn't take us long to feel accustomed to the regular comforts of home. Our first accommodation was impeccably clean, and the large, comfortable bed with fluffy pillows was enticing as no mosquito net hung above it (Reunion eradicated malaria about five years ago). The water was filtered, we were able to eat salads, and the wine was tasteful.
|Le Piton de Neiges, Reunion's highest peak|
For Erin's birthday, we tackled To-Do #1. It was an expensive endeavour, as everything was in Reunion, but we arranged for transportation to take us to the trailhead (getting there ourselves was out of the question, as public transit drops you off 25 km from the start!). We joined the hoards of people heading down the trail towards the volcano across the valley.
The weather was clear and beautiful for views, meaning we had hot sun on our backs, and faces from it reflecting off the black ground. It is important to note (for our mothers) that this volcano, though active, is very safe! It is not explosive, and is constantly being monitored. We were reassured that should there be any activity, helicopters would fly close to the peak and relay a message to hikers via megaphones that they needed to get off the volcano. Thankfully, this did not happen for us.
The hike seemed simple enough, until we started curving further around the side rather than mounting higher, and our stomachs rumbled from leaving at 6 am without breakfast. Our snacks of candy and chips didn't do much to mask our hunger. But we continued all the same. We felt great when we neared the actual peak, and were excited to look into the huge beast together. It took great self-control to swallow our disappointment when we saw there was no red lava bubbling inside, but just a great big pit of volcanic gravel. HOWEVER, the views were gorgeous and we enjoyed a snack and break all the same. We were proud of our pace, and beat our driver's time by 45 minutes!
|Where the lava flowed into the ocean in the 2007 eruption.|
|Finally back at the beginning!|
Upon hearing it was Erin's birthday, our lovely driver generously dropped us off at one of the most beautiful beaches on the island, where we relaxed for the next few hours. There was a small swimming area built to protect bathers from sharks, and a hot sandy beach and shady park to relax in. We watched nervously as two surfers ignored the warnings, but the most excitement we saw was a few good tricks and spills. The views were breath-taking, complete with huge crashes of water against the cliffs, supporting a five-star resort above that is frequented by former president Nicholas Sarkozi.