Our first day of true exploration. Keeping to the coast road we discovered what a stunning island this is!
The rainy season still to announce its arrival, the rugged dry brown slopes of the north reminded us so much of our homeland.
Ravines, deep gaping channels created from years of volcanic reaction and weathering of wind and rain, stretched from immense heights to the floor below, where great rivers that flow and flood during the wet were created. Showing their immense age, a few wider than our famed River Murray, their floors filled with blackened volcanic rock as far as the eye could see, riverbed upon riverbed led to the sea.
Parachutists strapped within their brilliant canopies drifted high upon the thermals, meandering in and out of the black low lying cloud enshrouding the mountaintops, whilst gently falling mile upon mile, eventually coming to rest upon the sandy shores.
Making the decision to divert to a short scenic route that took us along the seafront itself. What a sight!!!!
By now we were in the southern area of the island, where it received more of the rain that resulted from the fronts deep in the southern ocean. Lush green hillsides covered in various vegetable crops and sugar cane formed patchwork quilts that were interspersed between rugged, sheer black – grey cliff faces that plummeted hundreds to thousands of metres down to the valley floors.
Fishermen stood upon a rugged rock jutting seaward from the land, ever watchful as in coming swell broke and washed upon the monolith. Rapidly – yet carefully – they would leap away from the incoming force. What a sight this region would be with a storm forcefully stirring the waters!
One elderly gentleman had the right idea.
St Pierre, mud – skippers, eyes ever watchful, leapt, then rested upon the rocks, feet a suctioned tight as the incoming tide rushed inward and over with force, whilst tiny brown crabs appeared to lurk in wait for an unsuspecting prey.
A lone surfer skimmed the waves, abruptly cutting short his forward motion to prevent an unwanted arrival upon the nearby rocks.
Allowing the rip to carry him outward, time and again he repeated the adrenaline rushing thrill.
Winding roads, carved into the rock face via explosive blasting, with sheer s – bends and switch backs sharper than Adelaide’s Devil’s Elbow greeted us, whilst low stone walls – in places not even that – were all that protected one from crashing headlong to the sea floor below should control be lost.
Tractors pulling trailers overloaded with hay hugged the road and often added to the excitement.
We experienced town fairs where the population celebrated the coming of Spring. Cars squeezed into every corner available, streets crowded, the rumble of excited voices filled the air. Children proudly exhibited their dancing prowess to the loud thrum of today’s modern music, whilst down the road the more appealing sound of the creole drums drew one ever closer to investigate. Every so often, a lass of African heritage in mid step would for a short time suddenly slip into dance: these girls are mesmerising to watch for they are born with a natural flowing style that oozes a sensuality so suited to the music – that Australian Aborigines, too have this gift. (I won’t leave the camera behind for a break in future.)
Pulling into a viewing area for a short break, we were greeted by the view of a swimming pool that had been created by placing rock upon rock to from a wall metres off the shore. At this moment of time, with the assistance of a building westerly wind, the incoming tide gradually encroached as breaking waves collided with the wall to then continue their way inward as a mass of rolling white foam.
Bob also had a bit of fun.
We had been informed Sunday was a family and community day where most of the island’s population loaded picnic baskets and headed to the beach or inland. How true this was. All bar the occasional ice – cream shop closed their doors at midday. All picnic areas – and the island is filled with more than one can count – were filled to the brim and elsewhere, picnic basket open, families sat in small groups feasting upon the delicacies within or resting upon blankets covering the damp ground.
Departing St Joseph, Bob made the decision to head inland to Petite Ile. Winding narrow roads led us up the steep mountain side, upon which home and shop alike were built into the slope. Bob was reminded of Trieste as we travelled ever onward. Unlike Rodrigues and Mauritius, buildings here are painted in muted colours that seem to blend into, and compliment, the landscape: much more pleasant upon the eye.
Dry narrow water courses constructed of stone and awaiting the deluges to soon arrive, followed the winding road as we eventually directed the car homeward.