Lately, whenever mana_trinihas a day off one of two things happens: the weather is not the greatest (meaning the lagoon is too agitated to take the boat out); or we sit around saying, "What do you want to do?" "I don't know; what do you want to do?"
Well, we decided to take full advantage of his days off this cycle, so Wednesday we went Bandrélé Island for a cookout and snorkeling fun. We had the entire island to ourselves--for about thirty minutes :P--because the sea wasn't as calm as it could've been. So, no hanky panky on the beach. You have been spared. >:) I didn't wear my long-sleeved T-shirt and got a slight sunburn, but not bad enough to keep me from the next day's outing.
Mt Choungi! Since moving to Mayotte, we have been pretty negligent about going on hikes. We've done the Dziani Lake crater circuit a few times and one walk on Grande Terre along a trail with ylang-ylang groves, cinnamon and clove trees, etc.
So, we decided to hie us off to the mainland and gambole about the picturesque countryside. However, everything did not go according to plan.
We soon realized (not soon enough for we had already taken the ferry across to GT) we had left the trail guide and the island maps back at the house. (We realized we had forgotten the mosquito repellant when we were a quarter of the way up the mountain, and the bloodsuckers were drawn to my fresh wounds!) Okay. Not a problem. GT isn't that big, and we've driven by the Choungi turnoff before. I can guide us, I proudly told Julien. Upon leaving Mamoudzou, heading south, he asked if we should cut across to Combani and then go south, or head south toward Dembeni first. Well, I know I've seen the Choungi sign after Combani, so I said we should opt for choice number one. Unfortunately, once we got to Combani, instead of turning south, we kept going straight and looped towards the north of the island. I looked out my window and saw a silohuette of something that looked suspiciously like the dome of Choungi...behind us. Er.
All right then; nothing for it but to turn around and head south. We came to a T-junction, and J asked, "Right or left." I said right because we'd gone that way before, and I knew how far we were from our destination. He saw a grill on the roadside full of juicy pieces of chicken cooked to perfection, so he decided to get food and ask for directions--just to be sure.
Brochetti - Roadside "diner." They even have tinfoil for take-away.
Well, we got food, but he forgot the directions. We carried on to the right and stopped at this lovely spot just above Sada to eat our piping hot chicken.
After licking our fingers, we hopped back in the car, picked up a hitchhicker (number five of seven for the day) who told us the road to take (happened to be his route, too), and carried on our still-merry way. Only to be thwarted by a roadblock!
We didn't (don't) know what was going on, but there was a small group of military police keeping people from taking the road and a crowd of angry Mahorais complaining about it all. Since we weren't sure of the shortest alternate route, J got out to ask directions. At the same time, a car arrived from behind the block, and the police started to move the barricades. Some woman off to my right angrily said, "What's this? The whites get to go through? Blah, blah, bleep, bleep, bleep." I was a bit irritated because I had gotten out of the car to take a pic of the situation (focusing on my husband and the cops, no one else), and several rude comments about photos were shouted at me. Not to mention that I don't appreciate people "accusing" me of something I'm not guilty of. So, when the woman huffily protested the injustice of the "whites" getting to use the forbidden path, I hung my head out the window and with my mouth full of banana, told her that, no, the whites weren't going through. I'm such a child sometimes. U-turn and back the way we came...again...
I hollered, "Great chicken!" as we passed the grill--obviously a person can't be expected to grow up in the space of half an hour.
Mt Choungi - Houston, we have a visual. At last!
We finally found the correct turnoff and decided the parking for the hike must be where four other cars were parked along the roadside at the foot of the mountain. However, in the true French way, there were no signs. Nothing to tell us we were on the right path. But, because Mayotte is just like the mother country in this, we didn't let it worry us. Especially not when three Mahorais men came along and said, "Yes, that's the path. Just go straight. Always straight."
J took the lead, and straight we went. Oh my Lord did we go straight. Straight up to the top, and I thought I was going to die at least twice, or end up in a broken heap some 20-30 meters down. The path was no more than an animal trail at times.
Mahorais path - Um, are you sure this is the right way? This pic is taken near the bottom. Once the going got
Three times, we were on very steep grades (alllllllllll of it was steep), with nothing more than a few rocks, lots of shifting dirt, and dry useless grass. And three times I had to talk myself out of a panic attack. Remember that random thing I said the other day about being afraid and hating that fear of mortality? Yeah, well, I wasn't kidding. I don't have vertigo, but I could have developed a nice healthy case of it on that hike. After I passed one of these precarious patches, I heard a clatter. Thinking it was a stone, I was about to ignore it, but I looked over, and there was our camera, a few yards lower down the slope. Eek! J completely ignored the sound because he was convinced it *was* a stone. Please note the lack of concern for my HEAD! Chicken that I am, I couldn't get the camera, so Super Athlete** had to climb down and retrieve it. Luckily, the camera works just as well as it did before, which is to say not perfectly but still functionable...barely.
Once we finally arrived at the top--after an hour of hiking--we met another couple who had come up by the "right trail," and evidently, it had nothing to do with what we had battled through. The view from the top was gorgeous, and J is already gung-ho to do it again. But this time...bring a tent and camp! Yay! ::whimper::
Their Majesties of the Mountain - We...*gasp*...made it...*gasp, gasp*! Afterwards, I read on a sign at the bottom that the peak is 500m.
Lay of the land - To help you get your bearings. We are in the south, looking northeast-ish.
Seriously though, the hike back down was steep, too, but the rocks were cut like steps and there were plenty of roots and branches to hold on to. I'll do it again, but this time, I'm taking the right path!
The "Real" Path - Ooooh, this is what the trail looks like, eh? Please compare to the "non-trail" a few photos up.
It's a jungle out there - And what does he say as he jogs chipperly down the path? "I think we need to climb it again with our friends and take the trail we used the first time, so we can show them the difference." What does she answer? Why, what anyone in their right mind would: "I'm sure the house will need cleaning that day. I'll stay home and take care of it, sweetie."
Annnnnd, not only did we brave the heights, we ran errands! rabiagale, expect t-shirts within the next 1-2 months. :D Needless to say, after I got my words last night, I went to bed, regardless of the fact that it was barely after 9.