The first 24 hours out of Reunion were truly unpleasant, a real washing machine sea state with fast moving swells coming in from the east - typical Indian Ocean nastiness. By the second day the swell had eased and the passage became a race to beat the cold front that was fast approaching, bringing big winds and seas.
We motored into the anchorage behind the island late in the evening (just as the wind swung to the south), anchored on sand in around 10 meters of water, and slept soundly. We were in Africa at last ! By next morning it was blowing hard from the south but we were safe and comfortable.
Ile St. Marie / Ambidofotatra
|Ille St Marie|
Ambidofotatra (say that three times quickly) is the main town on the island, located on the sheltered west coast.
Not surprisingly it didn't happen in a single day, perhaps because we refused to pay the big bribes that immigration was expecting.
Immigration (at the police station) wanted a "gift", and we got off lightly by offering a token US$5.00. Others paid up to $40.00 for the "gratis" 30 day visa. And of course there was the customs team - everywhere we go these guys are the masters of deception. Another 60,000 Aryary and we were done with them ! We're not complaining, in fact we're very happy to be here. If only that money could be distributed responsibly - this is a very poor nation, where 60% of people live below the locally defined poverty line of $1.00 per day.
Fast ferries connect to the mainland, and daily commuter flights run to the capital. Local markets deliver all the fresh produce, meat and eggs that we could need.
It is a paradise, with very many European nationals running small businesses, restaurants and resorts in their own slice of tropical heaven.