Thursday, June 29, 2006
The last few days have seen the weather taking a turn for the tropical worse with lashings of rain and enough wind to bring a smile to the face of the capitain of the Cutty Sark - Ah if only we lived in another sea-faring age. With all this wind gadding about one could be forgiven if the first 0° C of the year went unoticed the last two days. Yes it is now Winter and the "Hauts" are settling in for a cold snap with a light frost appearing in those regions over 1500m.
Of course, this is all relative even if the papers have started the ritualised "La Réunion s’enrhume" and if any of you are concerned the minimum temperature ever recorded at the gite near the volcano was a spectacular -5°C.
La Réunion s’enrhume? Well it is a bit much really if the main headlines are reduced to creating and perpetuating crises. If the Chikungunya wasn't enough! Well, actually it would appear that the Chik is not enough. The latest figures from the beginning of June this year showed "only" 100 people infected between the 05/06 and 12/06 - a long way from the 40,000 in one week in February of this year. So what is the problem? Apparently, the authorities conducting research into the Chik are having trouble finding enough people infected!!!! Perhaps, they should have come sooner...
La Réunion s'enrhume? Or should that be "Rhum" - rum to you and me? The authorities are always at pains - however tentatively- to address the problem of alcoholism on the island (some 12 - 15% of the male population are chronic alcoholics) and earlier this year announced the phasing out of the "pile-plat", or little plastic bottle of rum. They have now obiously realised that this would only encourage dipsos to buy rum in larger quantities and so have proposed the reduction in the strength of rum from 49% to 40% from 01/07/06. Of course, the price is not set to be reduced by the same amount. For those of you interested in figures - 3 million "pile plat" are sold on average each year *.
Me? I am off to find a jumper before I catch a chill, and other things my grandmother used to say before going to bed with a hot toddy...
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Apart from a brief sejour to the other hemisphere last month - a jolly time had by one and all despite the "chik" and the "grippe" - nothing of any relevance to la belle Réunion has occurred within the periphery of my ever so blinkered vision.
However, since my return I have managed to reaffirm my faith in the island by passing some pleasurable moments in the company of the landscape and some good folk.
Quite often, tourist places suffer from an overdose of superlatives and hyperbole - last weekend proved the exception (which proves the rule etc). Passing the weekend at Cilaos I descended on Sunday to "la chapelle", a "grotto" in the cliff face far below Cilaos which provides a supplementary cascade to the "Bras Rouge".
Perhaps some images would help to purvey the sense that this chapel was more a cathedral and the lack of photos of the cascade at the "altar" is only because getting there involved a 20 metre swim through the all but icy cold water in the grotto - beautiful, I almost forgot to be miserable for a moment there!