It had been two years since I'd seen my sporty cousin Lucie, who runs and treks around the beautiful mountains of the Reunion Island on a weekly basis. She greeted us with "Would you be up for a hike in Mafate tomorrow?"
The Cirque de Mafate is a caldera* on Reunion Island. It was formed from the collapse of the large shield volcano the Piton des Neiges.
The name "Mafate" comes from the Malagasy word "Mahafaty", which means lethal, an allusion to the difficulty for accessing the Cirque.
"A hike?" I thought. It seemed like a lifetime since I had walked for pleasure... (hem, pain)
I'm not really sure what we agreed to, actually. Turns out we'd said yes to a two- day trek through a diverse series of extremely natural environments as well as camping in the rain with strangers.
Probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
It was one of those walks where you can go off and pick wild forest strawberries and take pictures of them. A place where you find flowers that are so bizarre, like tiny weeny pears which you day-dream about how cool they would look on a pear tart or any other pear based dish.
I suppose nature is quite foreign to me, which is why roaming cows, freezing rivers and frighteningly steep mountain cliffs are fascinating experiences.
We lived off wild boars that we caught with bows and arrows and sipped water from tropical leaves. Okay, okay, I'm only JOKING.
The last hour of walking pissed me off a little, actually. I don't mean to ruin the romanticism of the leaves and the flowers but the end was never in sight, despite the familiar "only 15 minutes of walking left!"
Keep 'em dumb.
By this point, my legs continued to walk because they knew no better, and my feet simply started to cry. But we made it in the end.
WAIT. My story is not finished yet.
We nearly died on the way back home. I'm not joking this time. We actually nearly died.
It started raining this insane tropical storm like you see in Jurassic park. Literally, as if someone is just throwing bucket after bucket of water on top of you and is just not getting enough of it.
We got in the car and Lucie's boyfriend Sliman drove. The journey involved wiping the wind shield every minute (I was sitting in the front seat as I get car sick) and the rain continued pouring down. But what happened is stones also fell from the cliff due to the storm. Not only stones but large bouldering ROCKS, no joke.
One large rock fell on the car wind shield and smashed the glass to pieces before my very eyes.
Fortunately for us, Sliman is a chilled guy who did not freak out and crash the car but continued driving despite shaking with fear. The five centimetres infront of his head was a large crack, as if someone had aimed a bullet at his head.
We stopped for samosas a few moments later just to breathe and live a last culinary moment in the fear that we would not make it home in one piece.
When we arrived home, I hugged my father tenderly.
"We're alive! We nearly died!"
They call it the "intense" Island for a reason.
* (a large, basinlike depression resulting from the explosion or collapse of the center of a volcano)