Tuesday, April 10, 2012

10/04/12 Curieuse to La Digue

This week, you’re going to hear about a bulldozer, bicycling, buses, brakes, big hills, Blue Planet, beach volleyball and B-list celebrities.

Most of these B’s occurred on our three-day weekend. I’ll start with the bulldozer. It might take the whole blog. We hired bikes. Eleven GVI volunteers hired bikes on Praslin, on Friday, to venture beyond Cote D’Or. Six of the bikes cost 200 Rupees to hire, and six of the bikes cost 100 Rupees. Can you see a slight difference? The cheaper bikes were new. They looked very, very cool. Mine was peppermint green and cream, with wide handlebars, a leather saddle you could almost lie down on and was the coolest, most retro bike I’ve ever seen. I wanted to supe mine up with speakers. They wouldn’t have looked out of place. There was only a small sacrifice for the bargain bikes. Brakes and gears. Well, there were back-pedalling brakes, but when have they ever worked? And anyway, who needs brakes and gears when you look that cool? There are hills on Praslin. And narrow roads, cars, buses, builders and bulldozers. We needed brakes and gears. Desperately. The journey to Anse Lazio, a beach 8km from Cote D’Or, was beautiful. Those without gears pushed their retro bikes up the gentle hills and cruised down the rolling roads. With a breeze blowing in our faces (on the downhill sections) it was the perfect pace to explore more of the island we can see from our base on Curieuse. Those with gears soon overtook us, but we didn’t care. We were on holiday, on bikes, exploring a tropical island. The hills began to steepen as we neared Anse Lazio, so we spent more time pushing than pedalling, but everything was still tinged with bicycling bliss.

We walked safely down the steepest hill towards the beach, where we parked our bikes on a grassy patch, ran down to the water and dived in. We spent the day snorkelling, swimming, snoozing, reading, building human pyramids and generally splashing about. It was brilliant. We set off back to Cote D’Or, allowing enough time to face the hills again. Perhaps we were a bit more carefree on our return journey, perhaps a bit bolder with our back-pedalling bike braking. Whatever the reason, we felt we could handle the downhill sections. Even the brutally steep ones. What we didn’t bargain for was a bus, builders, a backlog of traffic and a bulldozer. One of the volunteers encountered this little scenario whilst on a particularly steep section. He tried his back-pedalling brakes, he was going too fast. He couldn’t slow down. We watched from the top of the hill in slow motion. To cut a long story short, the bike continued to gain momentum with it’s passenger, and in true Frank Spencer style from ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em’, dodged and weaved from one obstacle to another in an attempt to stay on his bike. But alas no, there the likeness to Frank Spencer ended. He found himself separated from said bike by a number of metres and the contents of the basket spilled into the bushes. It was poetic. Almost beautiful. Thankfully, there were only a few bruises and a slightly grazed pride.

As for the other B’s of this week’s B Blog, we watched the brilliant Blue Planet episode on coral reefs, played a sandy game of beach volleyball on Polyp Playground and dressed up for a celebrity-themed party night. The Spice Girls reformed for one night only on Curieuse. Captain Jack Sparrow attended, as did Vin Diesel, Indiana Jones, Clark Kent, Madonna, Huckleberry Fin, to name but a few. It was a blast. And a brilliant way to begin our beatific three-day break.