Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Lava Tunnels (and other tales)

Piton de la Founaise is currently the world's 4th most active volcano. The last eruption was in 2010, which Richard defines as "small," because it only lasted for two days. Comparatively, the eruption that started in August 2006 didn't stop for five months. After an eruption, everything is a big mess because the lava basically just doesn't care. It takes out roads, burns buildings...and no one can do anything about it until it cools down and hardens.

One day, someone was stumbling around a dried lava field from the eruption of 2004 and discovered underground tunnels. Currently, these tunnels are toured more or less in secret because they are super dangerous (the vapors inside make you pretty light headed, and also they technically could collapse at any given time...) Richard's company had a little field trip with an official tunnel guide last he felt qualified enough to take us there himself. 

First, we had to find the secret opening, which took us a while. 

That mountain in the background is Piton de la Fournaise, the volcano.

And then...

We found it! Richard lead the way...

Richard explained many things about lava and cooling and tunnels forming and stalagmites and stalactites. I'll summarize all of this for you by saying that the tunnels and everything inside of them were formed by science.

So in we went.

The "ceiling." Richard claims it looks like chocolate.

These little holes used to be trees...the lava formed around them and then the poor tree just burned away.

They say this one looks like a shark head.
And this one looks like a Dodo bird. Valerie pointed out ironically that these are kind of the two "symbols" of Reunion Island...
Starting to get hard to breathe...

 After the lava tunnels, we headed to a nearby forest for a picnic.

There were little groups of picnickers everywhere; many of them were drumming and singing Maloya, one of Reunion's traditional music styles. It was amazing. 

Today's little excursion was actually the latest in a string of outdoor adventures. I promised myself I'd start exploring more...and the cool thing about Reunion is that there are no scary/poisonous beings lurking anywhere, which makes random exploring very stress free.

Earlier this week, we visited the "Savannah" as Richard likes to call it:

And the weekend before that, it was the "forbidden" 3 Basins of St. Gilles. No one really knows why they are forbidden, but you have to climb through a hole in the fence to get to them. After that, you have to traverse through watery tunnels, tightrope over cliffs, run through canyons, and climb over downed trees. Oh. I suppose maybe that's why it's forbidden...but it is sooo worth it...


little bird home

This guy was kind of pissed at me for seeing through his branch disguise.

I loved this place so much that I came back a few days later on my own, while Richard was at work. My mission was to find the 3rd basin, which we hadn't been able to find the last few times we went.

Mission accomplished. I think it's the best one too :-) It's surrounded by the biggest bamboo forest I've ever seen!! 

Later, I found this secluded little corner in the back and hid out for a while.
I made friends with a tiny gray mouse and an orange butterfly :-) 
On the way back I met this little guy. He kind of freaks me out. Let's just pretend he's a nice tree guardian. 

Ok!! So now I'm ready for some new adventures in the USA!!!! 

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