Reunion Island road-trip idea: see Salazie
Having just seen Reunion Island by air, Natalie Roos and I embarked on a road trip to Salazie, one of the cirques we saw from afar while in the air. We simply set the GPS to take us from the town of Saint-Paul to the town of Salazie and were on our way.
Once we were past the bustling capital of Saint-Denis, the meander through the beautiful greenery of the lush east coast began.
On the side of the road we saw two men braaiing (barbecuing) whole chickens, which reminded us of the South African way of life. We immediately pulled over. The men couldn't speak a word of English, and it didn't seem like they'd even heard it before. They were, however, very glad to show us how they prepared various chicken and pork offerings.
They were selling two-foot baguettes for just €3, and these were excellent value, especially given all the free banter thrown in.
As if driving a left-hand drive vehicle on the right-hand side of the road wasn’t enough of a challenge, it was wet and the road was narrow and incredibly windy, making the drive to Salazie an adventure all on its own. For the first time in my life I was glad to get stuck behind a truck, ensuring safety from oncoming vehicles as we ascended.
Hooting when cornering is essential, and taking it slowly is also important; with the scenery on offer, there is no rush anyway.
In the village of Hell-Bourg, just beyond Salazie, we met three guys, possibly in their mid-20s, who offered to explain history, politics and everything else. But as they only spoke Creole and French, we were unable to understand everything. They gladly posed for photographs and made us feel welcome.
While there are signs of poverty in Salazie, the residents seemed very content with a subsistence lifestyle and while I, a tourist, fully expected to be asked for money in such a place, this didn’t happen. The people we encountered were proud and welcoming.
We had lunch at P’Ti Koin Kreol, where the owner, Dominique, prepared chou chou, a dish consisting mainly of cabbage.
Dominique was the ultimate host. Her quaint restaurant has just four tables, and she initiated conversations that got everyone talking to each other. She spoke good English and introduced Natalie and I to everyone else, while a Reunion couple at the next table told us how much they enjoyed their trip to Cape Town earlier in the year.
Salazie has some very decent curio shops, and a short walk around the village allows several great photographic opportunities, with beautiful houses, flowers and people.
The map below shows the way to Salazie from the capital of Saint-Denis.