Heading to Reunion Island in May, I was honestly terrified. It sounds a bit strange to be going on a holiday and feel such apprehension. But it was completely justified. I had gotten myself on a trip with my die-hard hike buddies who were determined to go mountain-goating for hours over our 4-day trip. But after a whole day hiking at Le Piton des Neiges, the highest peak of the Indian Ocean, we discovered the more manageable path leading to Marla which in my opinion was THE highlight of this adventure.
Marla is a small village only accessible either by helicopter or on foot via a peak called Col du Taibit. The whole hike departing from Cilaos to Marla through the Col and back takes *ahem* only 5 hours give or take. Honestly all the other trails in Reunion appear to be a piece of cake after climbing Le Piton de Neiges.
Nestled between gigantic mountains, Marla is a really quaint little place which is extremely rural. There, you can find only a few sparse houses, most of them covered by reddish inclined roof made of corrugated iron, which stand over colourful concrete houses with large verandas. People seem to really enjoy the outdoors life there. Kids play while goats and cows roam around with nonchalance or sit in the shade of trees.
There, my friends and I took a break at a small convenience store that is also a café. It sells all sorts of things: freshly brewed coffee, fresh milk, canned food, detergent, biscuits, and also the special local rum which is fermented with different fruit.
Jokes aside, the proper local rum must contain at least 60% alcohol.
This cosy convenience store/ café is the ideal spot for a coffee break and a snack before heading back.
Marla is really the sort of place where you feel recharged, especially when the sun is benevolently sharing its warmth, as if rewarding you for having made it there . Marla exudes of an authentic simplicity, and people there look like they just get on with life away from the urban covfefe (Or ‘kerfuffle’?).
In fact, we met a small middle-aged lady on our way down who represented precisely this demeanour. There she was, with a cute blue dress and matching sandals, steadily climbing through the ravine holding a shopping bag. To her this looks like a casual Saturday walk. Watching her I could not help but think how much it would suck to make it to Marla only to realise that you’ve forgotten something from the shops. But I suppose you could always find a substitute at the convenience store.
This cup of joe in Marla is definitely one of the most memorable moments of this trip.
This reminds me that it is time for some coffee (yes, we snuck some Reunionais coffee in our suitcases!), before proceeding to a very special dairy-free cake order.