Sunday, September 24, 2006

High tide - the fish speaks

Over the weekend we have experienced an awful lot of wind, rain and some rather large waves. This is all very excitng especially as I chose Friday to return to the volcano and get wet. According to "meteo france" the waves have been averaging between 4 and 5 metres with rather too many at some 8 metres. Jolly exciting what?

Well, that is what I thought, but it seems that I am somewhat in a minority. The journal for today, Sunday, has decided that all this rough weather merely serves to indicate that we are not prepared for a tsunami. Some of youse will remember that I noted the article in the "Quotidien" the other day proclaiming the end is nigh with tsunami type warnings. So, whilst strolling up and down the beach at Etang Salé enjoying the force and majesty of a Nature untamed, I got to thinking...

You see, of course you do, what this scare mongering is all about, is money. The authorities just love dreaming up new ways to get money for developing useless projects so that they can enrich their already fat and wobbly buttocks. After the chikungunya was the publicity plague, after the shark attacks we now have the "marie" of St Pierre pondering the feasability of installing shark nets. Obviously, somebody's brother's, uncle's, aunt's minah bird needs employment, so now we have the TSUNAMI SCARE!!!! Strange, one does not find this money driven doom laden prophecysing (is that how you spell it Andrew?) on Mauritius. Maybe it is because they "know" that they are living in the tropics and are not trying to pretend that it is some cosy French province. Ouch!

The tourist office try to sell Réunion as "the intense isle" and yet, when it is intense everyone is running around griping that we need money for projects - everyone must have a project. Bollocks! The attraction of the intense isle is just that, intense. People come here because it is nature being intense - and not in the student bar, existentialist, angst driven pre-eclamptic, philosophical sorta way -in much the same way as one would visit a game park and not a zoo.

Fortunately, there are those who understand this and treat Nature with respect and humility. It is only when we treat her with our petty hubris that we need to be afraid - and no, I have not been ingesting Whitman, Lawrence or Gide, just walking on the beach and talking to fish.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

flash, bang, thssspppp!

Judging by the above photo of talc grenades found in the last remaining coastal forest of Etang Salé one would be forgiven for thinking that I was going to have a rant about litter, the military and the general abuse of the environment. No, I am saving that for later.

The flash-bangs are merely a symbol of the current state of tourism on the island and the pathetic attempts of the administration to promote the isle - or to be more cynical to profit from the millions of euros being pumped in to advertising and the like. Last week saw an "exposition" of La Réunion at Paris which cost the tax-payer some 330,000€. Some 150 persons were flown to Paris to sell samosas and gyrate a bit. The result was that the event attracted almost 2000 visitors, 80% of whom were ex-pat Reunionese! We are also infomed that the region et al are to be pumping 3 million euros into a billboard and internet advertising campaign in order to attract tourists after the Chik-Shark fiasco of this past year.

I am not too sure if the administration is really serious or is just looking to find jobs and profit for its lackeys and relatives. Where does all this money go? Can I have some? Still, it would seem that some are content to hijack this guilded publicity campaign by dreaming up even more disastrous scenarios. The Quotidien yesterday published on its front page a "report" that the island will be hit by a giant tsunami one day (tomorrow, next week, ten years etc etc) when the volcano falls apart and we shall all be swept to oblivion, or beyond. Seemingly, if the chikungunya doesn't kill you, the sharks will and failing that the good Lord will rip asunder the Earth and those that aren't to be swallowed into the very bowels of hell will be drowned...

...shit! I'm off to build an ark. Mind you it won't need to be very big coz there do not seem to be many creatures left on the island. No wonder I thought that Butlins was boring!

Flash Bang? If one is looking for a reason to visit the island and a bit of publicity the biggest noise is the island itself...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Lava Flows 2

Not much more to add really! Leaving home at four thirty this morning found me up the volcano with a following wind and an apple. However, it was all well worth it and the cone has now tripled in size and although the projections are seldom seen the lava covers some forty percent of the surface of the crater and is constantly evolving thanks to a "geyser" like eruption some thirty metres from the cone.

I'll post some more photos on my site over the weekend if anyone is interested.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

New broom?

What with all the excitement of the volcano, I had forgotten to share a little piece of optimism with you. Not that I am generally of an optimistic disposition and would prefer to share my petty rants. The "openning" of the volcano has certainly given reason to smile even if it appears strange that the Prefécture, CTR (tourist bureau) and the usual bevy of regional government lackeys have failed to do so for several years following the death of an "imprudent" visitor during the August 2003 eruption.

The explanation given in the "Journal" as to why the padlocks on the access gate to the Enclos were unopened was because they had become frozen! Yes, it is possible, but at 06:30 the three padlocks were certainly not frozen and I doubt that there was even a frost at that altitude that night. The Journal suggests that someone should have pissed on the locks - Seems to me that someone is taking the piss...

Enough. Yesterday in the same "Journal" I was pleased to note the inaugration, by one of the island's noted botanists, of an association dedicated to maintaining access to the volcano within 24 hours of an eruption. The association is called LAVE (Liberté d’accès au volcan en éruption) and Roger Lavergne rightly compares, as I have done, the attitude of the Prefécture towards the volcano and the sea. With all the recent shark attacks (come on let us not exaggerate!) no one is suggesting a ban on bathing, or padlocking the beaches. Better off if they banned cars, Mc Do, Coke and rampant consummerism which are far more responsible for far more deaths. Lavergne points out that presently, there is :

“Une véritable porte de prison obture le Pas de Bellecombe. Si vous vous hasardez à l’escalader, vous risquez de vous retrouver au poste de gendarmerie de la Plaine-des-Cafres et d’être condamné à payer 60 euros d’amende.”

Methinks the Ramblers' Association could help here ;-) Good luck to Mons. Lavergne.

...and on the same day I note in the blog of Pierrot Dupuy that he too is thinking of associations. His is one to expose corruption and nepotism on the island.

Sounds like a jolly good idea and I think that he'll have plenty of work to do. His blog is an excellent source of political "gossip" and his exposé certainly has my support. Of course, I could question his motives, but then that would be too cynical...

... and what, one might ask, am I doing? Actually, I have developed moaning as a form of psychic mantra. The constant resonating, irritating, penetrating hum, when properly focused, has a accumulative effect on social archetypes. Once the "moan" has entered into social consciousness it promots acceptance, and in certain individuals, provokes action relative to the frequency of the "moan". I take it that the two case above are proof of the efficacity of this form of psycho-social evolution.

Of course, it is not infallable and I have had little success in manipulating the social consciousness of two generations of unfortunates who insist on wearing baseball caps the wrong way round.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Candy floss and fireflies

Having set off early this morning I was quite surprised at the number of cars overspilling the car park at the beginning of the path to the volcano. Even at 0600 there were many, too many? The sky was all but clear and the couple of hours walk to the crater was only marred by the fact that the "entrance" gate was padlocked shut; the sight of lava crazed siteseers crawling under and over was nearly as amusing as the explanation that "someone" had super glued the pad locks! Of course conspiracy theories abound but, this time, nothing was going to stop the masses from reclaiming "their" volcano.

The walk was well worth it and the fascinating natural spectacle was just that. The groaning and spitting of the cone was enticing enough and the lava spewing forth from some hellish candy floss machine had my little camera weeping.

By eleven o'clock the cloud had started to come in and the eruption started to increase in magmatude to such an extent that the candy floss was flitting around more like a swarm of crazed bum burnt butterflies. Time to evacuate - And thanks to the ONF for treating us all as rational human beings.

More photos can be found on my web site - just click on a photo.

Better than beer and more to follow - enjoy!

...rushed up the volcano early this morning and all who made the effort were treated to a jolly show. For those interested I'll publish the rest of the photos on my site and a link here in the next few hours.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Free beer?

Well that got your interest... Actually, it is only wishful thinking but if things continue as they have begun with the new prefect who knows what might happen? I might even get to be milk monitor! The slightly unexpected eruption of the volcano two days ago brought about the usual excitement and the closure of the "enclos" to the public. Today, however, the prefecture have announced that the "enclos" is to be opened to the public from 06:00 tomorrow and we can once more participate in a great natural happening in a great natural setting. So I must say thanks to the new prefect for being resonsible enough for allowing us to be responsible for ourselves - which is a great deal of resonsibility.

It is also further proof that money is not going to rescue the declining tourist industry, but common sense will.

I will be off at the crack of dawn so had better start preparing by having a beer. Free? No, not yet, but that would bring the tourists back.

hot rock mantis