In the East of Reunion Island the exuberance of the tropical landscape really comes into its own! I spent an exciting morning there, between the river and the lychee orchards of Ilet Bethléem.
The East of Reunion Island is the island’s wettest region, making it the greenest. Everything grows in this exuberant region where the rivers flow all year long. It’s not far from La Rivière des Marsouins that we meet Geoffrey, our guide for the morning.
He is going to immerse us in a particularly bounteous tropical landscape, from a majestical place: Ilet Béthléem. We reach it after walking for twenty minutes and discover an old chapel, right next to the river. This is the only remains of the religious site founded here by nuns in the 19th century. At that time the hamlet was very populated. It has since become a popular spot where locals come to relax.
Geoffrey is an inexhaustible source of information about his island’s nature. He shows us the weaver birds, who employ boundless ingenuity to make elaborate round nests, suspended from high branches. And the giant bamboo which grows so quickly and makes a swishing noise all around us, as the wind blows.
I have never seen such exuberant vegetation. Geoffrey tells us that the island has hundreds of endemic plants, that are found nowhere else in the world. He shows us some of them, by the side of the path. Many of them were used as medicinal plants in the past.
Then we pass through a lychee orchard. At the beginning of the southern summer, at the end of November, the big trees are covered with these red fruits with delicious flesh, which cover the stalls of all the local markets and are sent by plane to markets on the mainland.
The time for the gourmet break is approaching. Our guide has sorted everything. He sits us down at the edge of the river, in a shady spot, for a tasty Creole aperitif. Samoussas, bonbons piments …. and fresh juice are real delicacies. We have a great time chatting together, in an enchanting setting.