Favorite thing: Reunion is a big producer of vanilla and there are places where you can take a tour of a vanilla plant (as in the building type of plant where they manufacture stuff). The tour covers the entire process from grow to drying to getting it to us. You even get to try real vanilla alcohol. It would be a good way to get an understanding of a part of the island.
This was one of the wild cattle that we came across. Normally they are docile, but you have to understand cattle a little too. If a wild cow starts chasing you, you must not turn and run. This emboldens them, and we have been chased out of fields by a herd who finally found their balls.
No, you have to stand your ground. Raising your hands, waving you hiking poles or your hands, and whooping is usually enough to cause them to pause and think better of it. They are not naturally agressive.
However, in this particular instance, this bull was blocking our path and we could not circumvent him. No one else wanted to go by and to be honest that can be dangerous, too. You try to slip by, and then he flicks his head, and you can get a horn in the side or in an eye. Not nice when you are a long way from immediate help.
So, I came up from behind, I whooped, I berated him, I gave him a few good smacks on the rump with my hiking pole, and I convinced him to go farther down the trail to where it widened out and there was room for us to pass safely by.
Fondest memory: All's well that ends well, it just takes some horse sense or cow sense as the case may be.
Favorite thing: So what were you expecting man eating lions? It is an island. I think the inhabitants have long since killed and cooked everything edible and with flesh to make their famed karrie with beans and rice. At least I ate it with fish, chicken, pork, beef and sausage. So this is about as wild an animal as I did see in La Reunion other than some nice wild canaries and other birds.
Favorite thing: The original population of the island was not indigenous as far as I know. They arrived on the island. It is a relatively new island, less than 300.000 years old caused by volcanic activity in the Indian Ocean that is still going on. In any case, any animals would have had to arrive by sea. That rules out any big mammals. We did see quite a few geckos outside sunning themselves on the rocks, and a few in our bedrooms at night. They are harmless and hunt bugs and mosquitos. I would sooner have a gecko patrolling around my bedroom at night than be harassed by marauding mosquitos.
Favorite thing: There is quite a lot of hilly terrain which limits where man can live. However, it makes pasturing cows a natural part of the rural economy. Here there was a milk cow and her calf tied-up to a tree, munching the fresh grass. As much a lawnmower as source of pasture. I did not see any large scale farming operations, probably due to transportation problems, but lots of domesticated animals like pigs, goats, chickens and cows. Some of the parts of the island are only accessable by foot and/or helicopter, so it would make sense for many rural inhabitants to keep their own livestock.
Favorite thing: This guy was so sweet. He was really cross eyed. I could not help but take a picture of him. When I saw him climbing along the roof and on the beams overhead I could not help but wunder how he kept his balance? The cats looked pretty well fed. There was a lot of seafood, and with a buffet I assume they get a lot of scraps thrown their way. There was one doberman dog at the hotel. I thought he lived there. However, I saw him at other places along the beach, too, so maybe he had his daily routine. Bum some food here, beg a little there.
Favorite thing: Due to the climate, most of the restaurants were outdoors or at least wide open. This meant there was always a contingent of cats hanging around hoping to get lucky and get a few scraps of tasty tidbits from the surrounding tables and softhearted tourists. The cats and dogs are expert are conning you out of food. Everyone knows they shouldn't, but who can resist their mournful eyes and endearing antics. On the otherhand, the cats due keep the rodent population at bay, and I hate rats, so the more cats the better. Also, in Cyprus where I live, there are lots of street cats. It would be better if they were all spayed, but as they are not, I prefer to keep them fed and healthy just the same. Soft heart and a soft head it seems.
Favorite thing: I am told by one VTer, Justin Jansen, that the yellow little bird is a Village (Spotted-backed) Weaver and was introduced to the island and is not native. I don't know for sure. However, there seemed to be several distinct species of yellow birds. It is not a great interest of mine. I had fun trying to photograph them. Perhaps an expert on birds can give me more information and I will happily update these pages.
Favorite thing: We were in the town of Hell Bourg and this is the dog that we saw. It is probably not a good picture, but he was standing up on the wall a good 20 feet above the pavement. I am not sure how he got up there? Perhaps he has an easy way from behind the wall which I cannot see? In any case, he was pearched up on this wall to keep an eye on all the people going by on the street. He was a real mixed breed. I could not tell what kind of a dog he was? In any case, on this particular wall, he was top dog.
Favorite thing: Quite often we think of man and nature as being in competition with one another. However, there are many symbiotic relationships too. We were at a beachside restaurant which mainly served baguettes and sandwiches and such. Big pieces of bread. I am sure the birds nearbyu lived quite comfortably on the crumbs that fell off the tables or were thrown to them. They certainly were not shy in any case. They were more frightened of their own kinds more than anything. There were always a few larger birds who seemed to be the bullies. The smaller birds were faster. Usually they would get to the crumbs first, and the larger birds would then chase them away is they had not succeeded in grabbing a crumb and making off with it first. Fun to watch. A good chance to take photos of them.
Favorite thing: One thing, the small birds were quick. It was hard to get them to pose. You had to basically get your camera lens ready, focus on a spot and then wait for them. They did not sit still for long. Usually just a few secs and then they were off again. I guess this helps them compete for food with the larger birds and keeps them from becoming cat food, too.
The mountains are beautiful. Dragons teeth in the mist. But dont try to drive yourself up or down the hair-pin turns! Local company Connections will smooth the way if you dont speak French.They can access great drivers who not only know the way but have huge Eddie Murphy grins.And if they dont speak English,dont worry....
Fondest memory: Travelling in a bus up to the mountains with Malloya music blaring. Sampling the local wine helped the nerves.The villages high in the crisp mountain air seem to have good places to eat especially Hell-Bourg.I took toy animals and post-cards of my country for the Creole children[ After obtaining adult permission]. A strange and wonderful place even for those on a tight budget!
Rent a car and travel the coastal road around the entire island, about 4 hours, but take your time. Although you see the same incredibly blue Indien Ocean, the landscape changes constantly. White, black, even green sand beaches shimmer. Lowlands, cliffs, valleys, lush sugar cane fields, mountains, lava fields, rocky coasts, villages, brightly colored houses,magnificent chuches, town squares. All of that can be seen on this drive, alone. So much variety on such a small island, and I've not mentioned the interior with unbelievable mountain ranges, canyons, waterfalls and an active volcano. Reunion seems to have it all.
Fondest memory: Oh, so many. The friendly, helpful and smiling people, a mix of many different nationalities and cultures over the centuries. And that has truely produced physically beautiful people. Quite touching were the small white cross memorials frequently dotting the island. Remember also the best rum on the island, possibly the best in the world..Isautier Reunion Rhum. Aged rhums, flavored rhums and fruit rhum punches. After a couple of these libations, I must say that I also have a fond memory of the semi-topless beaches. Nothing unusual for them, just a natural way of life.
Favorite thing: Although the main religion in Reunion is Catholicism, there is a strong indian presence. Keep an eye open for their colourful architecture.
28 rue du Lagon, Saint-Gilles-Les-Bains, 97434, Reunion Island
Good for: Business
31 Rue Juliette Dodu, Saint-Denis, 97400, Reunion Island
Good for: Solo
44,route de Boucan Canot, Saint-Gilles-Les-Bains, 97434, Reunion Island
Good for: Couples