The Road

Getting into the car in the morning I felt nervous. I’d done this before but I couldn’t help feeling this way. The two women in the car seemed relatively relaxed however, they had been doing this for the past year so I presume they were used to it. How bad could it be? It was September, I had just started my new job in Cilaos, I was car sharing with two colleagues, and we were about to take the Cilaos road.

The first time I took the Cilaos road was back in 2013 when I spent a relaxing weekend with my family at one of the local hotels. Since we wanted to enjoy the view I took my time, and stopped at the many view points scattered along the way. The weekend was really special, great food in the evening, a comfortable bed, and waking up bright and early in the morning to freezing temperatures. My eldest daughter loved seeing her breath hanging in the air, and my wife was dressed up like she was on an Arctic expedition. Sunday morning was spent walking around the town and the lake, visiting the shops and drinking hot beverages in the local café. Cilaos is a beautiful, magical town. The Cilaos road can be lovely, it just depends how fast you are driving.

Back in the car with my colleagues, we set off, we were in a rush because one of them was late that morning. The first fifteen minutes of the expedition was alright, but when it came to the twisted, narrow cliff-side roads my stomach began to churn. For some reason I was thinking of my breakfast, and what it must look like now all mixed up inside of me. My mouth began to water, my cheeks felt heavy. Bend after bend, things became worse. I tried to look at the mountains, to enjoy the view as I did so many years ago, but to no avail. I was going to vomit.

Inaugurated in 1932, the Cilaos road is an unforgettable experience. Locally famous for its four hundred bends and special driving laws. If you’re going to take this road, remember these four rules: Beep before a blind turn, always let the car behind you overtake, beep to say thank you to someone who pulled over to let you pass, and blow plumes of black exhaust smoke on the drivers who did not obey the first three rules.

I arrived at the local middle school with my two colleagues with ample time to prepare my lessons. I didn’t vomit, but I came very close. Apparently years of taking this road had given my companions’ lead-lined stomachs. I spent the day working, and preparing myself for the difficult drive back. Only eight more months to go…


nervous – inquiet
however – cependant
to be used to – avoir l’habitude de
to car share – faire du covoiturage
scattered – dispersé

to hang – suspendre
to be in a rush – être pressé
twisted – tordu
narrow – étroit
to churn – faire tourner

mixed up – mélangé
to water – mouiller
bend – virage
to no avail – en vain
to beep – klaxonner

blind – aveugle
to overtake – dépasser
to pull over – se ranger sur le coté
to blow – souffler
lead-lined – doublé de plomb

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