Monday 3rd August 2015:
I woke up quite early on that day already excited about the days to come. Yes before going to Mauritius I asked my friend Vincent if this summer, he was going to be in La Reunion (Reunion Island) – a french colony island on the west of Mauritius. He replied with a yes, so life became even more exciting. Reunion Island boasts an amazing flora and fauna as well as beautiful landscapes and a still active volcano.
I got everything ready and my uncle from Curepipe asked us to come down and stay at his house so he could take us to the airport the next day as it was quicker to get there from Curepipe than it would have been from Grand baie especially for the fact that our plane was at 9:50pm. I was so humbled by the lovely offer.
It was quite late on this monday and my parents had dropped us in Curepipe. We all had dinner and my parents took the car back to Grand Baie.
I asked my uncle if I could use the Wi-fi to converse with Vincent in La Reunion (974) to which he kindly agreed. I told Vincent that we were landing at 10.30am on the 4th August.
Everything was organised and I tried my best to leave nothing to the unpredictable.
I went to bed after praying Ishaa.
Tuesday 4th August 2015:
Today was the day!
I just couldn’t believe what we were about to do. We woke up quite early, had breakfast and made sure all was packed. I repacked my camera bag and left behind all other used rolls of films to reduce baggage weight. I took with me my Mamiya 7 (broken), my Rolleicord V as well as my trusted AE-1.
I also emailed my friend Fred from Paris to make sure he was gonna be there, I was so pleased to know that he was arriving the same day we were landing. I asked him if it was ok if we could stay at his house and he was happy to welcome us into his home. He is a childhood friend and one of my brother’s first friend after moving from UK to Paris in the 1990’s. Fred’s mother is a very good friend of my mum too.
I didn’t really grow up with Fred as he is younger than me but we became very good friend in the last few years.
Everyone was getting ready and was fairly busy I had only 5 shots left to take on my Rolleicord so I tried my best to finish it before leaving. We also knew that the weather would be really bad but we didn’t care because it added more fun and excitement to the journey.
We set off to the airport. As soon as we left, a huge tropical rain began. We had to drive really slowly.
Curepipe is so jungly and beautiful I will make sure In shaa Allah that in the future I will stay in the day time there.
We arrived at the airport and said our salam. I met an old couple that were looking at me when I was changing film. They came to me and said to me: “wow such a young guy shooting film”. The husband was very surprised to see me with so many rolls. He was happy and he had a Contax camera with Carl Zeiss lens. They were from Austria and they said they loved Mauritius but their stay was too short.
They departed and we carried on our boarding.
Winter doesn’t boast the best weather at times but still beautiful waters from the plane.
After 30 minutes flight with Air Mauritius we finally arrived in St-Denis, La Réunion.
It took us a while to come out of the airport as they only had one portal opened. There were a lot of Mauritian people to my surprise and a lot of french and Chinese people too.
We finally came out of the airport after an hour wait and we saw Vincent standing at the gate. He was late but so were we which made us both of us on time haha.
We started the journey and stopped at Jumbo supermarket to get some food for the journey ahead and changed our Pounds into Euros. Vincent allowed me to use his phone so I could call Fred. After a few texts I decided to call Fred. He gave us the address and the direction from St Denis. He stayed in St- Anne. We arrived at the place after a 40 minutes drive in a crazy torrential tropical rain.
We greeted Fred’s parents and introduced Vincent to Fred and everyone and couldn’t believe how everyone changed so much (well you would after 10 years!).
We embarked on the first leg of the journey. I was feeling so good but at the same time a real culture shock that took me a good 24h to get over. It was stunning already, the clouds were moving really fast and they were announcing a lot of wind.
We got onto the motorway and decided to go to Cirque Salazie. We were supposed to do the Cirque Mafat but it was the big daddy and time was not our friend on this short amazing journey. Vincent advised this Cirque and let me tell you it was all worth it.
Rain had stopped for a while as we began to enter the Jungle (Cirque Salazie).
The scenery was just so impressive. I didn’t know what camera to take out and was worried to miss out on all of it.
I put a new roll of Fujicolor C200 in my Canon AE-1 as I knew that these greens were a Fuji matter. 🙂
We stopped at each step of the way to capture the magnificence of the place.
We arrived after 10 minutes of more drive to a place where we could relax and take it from there by foot.
We parked the car and began the hike into the jungle. Fred took his GoPro and started capturing the whole journey. I was so happy knowing we would have so much to remember after.
The rain was so heavy and we had to take refuge under a few huts and let the rain stop. In the meantime we started taking everything out of the bags for the picnic.
We ate our vegetable Achards in baguette and a few snacks and soft drinks to replenish. The rain stopped so we went back to the place where the car was parked. I stopped with Fred to take pictures of the landscape.
We left the first base and drove further up the mountains and stopped at the next base where the view was even more beautiful.
After a lovely time to reflect and absorb just about everything, we took off to go even higher level. The air was getting thinner and we could tell we were feeling like we were a little bit in a weightlessness state.
We came off the car and walked in the village. It was so far from civilisation we were wondering how can they possibly replenishing on stock and food at this high level.
Time was ticking and the night was about to set so we voted to leave. We were so tired from our flights anyway and Fred was tired too as he hadn’t slept on the plane from Paris.
Fred was shocked as he saw an eagle which are rare in this region, he was over the moon
We stopped a last time on our way down to a base where we could see the proper jungle. At this point Fred lost one of his screw on his GoPro. We all joined forces and we managed to find this little screw thing in the middle of the jungle. (I obviously said Bismillah and it worked haha – Al hamdulillah).
Samir (my brother) and Fred capturing the beauty of the African jungle.
It was so lovely but I couldn’t help but feeling dizzy with these different plateau levels and altitudes.
We decided to call it a day and not even an ounce of regret overtook us as we knew we done everything we could and enjoyed every second of it. It was clear also that we needed to calm our enthusiasm down for the journey of the next day.
We went home to St Anne at Fred’s to enjoy a nice shower and dinner and we fell asleep to the beautiful sound of the rain on the metal roof (typical créole houses). I was in love with this Island.