Despite the heat and hills, both of which are pretty extreme on Reunion, biking is a much more reliable and timely means of getting around the city of Saint-Pierre, as long as you don’t mind arriving to your destination dripping with sweat. Traffic here just does not flow. “Embouteillages” – French for traffic jams – are said to be a Reunionese specialty. Like a child carrying a mountain of laundry down stairs to be washed, piled far higher than he could ever see around and dropping socks along the way, there are trucks bursting at the seams with sugar cane that bump and wobble precariously down the streets, losing its load with every bump. I have even seen “les charettes bouefs” – carts pulled by oxen – backing up traffic on the main highway. Not something you expect to see in “France”.
I think I have only seen two traffic lights in the whole south of Reunion. Roundabouts and ralentisseurs – speed bumps – are the two most frequently encountered means of traffic control. It makes biking really fun. Apparently, roundabouts are on the rise in the US too, but the problem is that “Americans just don’t know how to navigate them“. Get it together, America!
If I can’t find work for next year, I think I will take it upon myself to advocate against the unfair treatment of the roundabout in America.
I hope it doesn’t come to that though.
PS I’m supposed to be hiking Piton des Neiges, the highest point on the island and the entire Indian Ocean, but I stayed up until 4AM last night with some other English assistants and so we were too tired to go. Conspiracy theory continues.