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27 October 2010

Like Switzerland, plus jungle

On Tuesday (26th) Heidi (fearless driver), Casey (fearless leader) and Anne (occasionally-confused navigator) took off in the rental car to explore the island.

After completely failing to find the vanilla museum/shop/factory (they grow vanilla and lots of other spices here) in St. Andre described in the guidebook, we did manage to find a yummy lunch at a roadside sandwich shop. The two guys running the place did their best to explain (via Anne's fuzzy translation skills) what the sandwiches were, and we ended up with baguette sandwiches filled with suateed veggies and chicken, and a local specialty consisting of a mix of sausage, french fries and cheese. (Extremely filling, but delicious, especially with some of the local chili sauce.)

After lunch we gave up on the vanilla quest, and headed up into the interior via an amazing road up the middle of a huge, deep gorge to the towns of Salazie and Hell-Bourg. The road wound back and forth up the sides of the ravine, sometimes crossing the river (sometimes the waterfalls on the sides fell on the car and the road!). We saw 10% grades in several places, and the switchbacks were quite a challenge. Tiny towns, small banana and chou-chou (a local fruit, haven't tried it yet) farms filled any vaguely flat spot, plus some that weren't so flat. We drove all the way to the end of the road, deep in the cirque at the end of the valley. It was stunningly beautiful.

In actual boat-news, Sean and Sofia were hard at work on the endless list of onshore tasks - with the replacement parts for the autopilot system finally arrived, they got them installed and tested, and all seems well. Great news, we'll not need to hand-steer all the way to South Africa. Bravo!

- Anne, for the WT gang