Reunion Island: Returning to my Island serenity

To quote one of my friends, “I thought it was a joke- I thought you were kidding about a reunion with your friends.”

You could say I have a knack for finding random locations in the world. I have been told I am a “hipster traveler”. If that is true or not, I do not know. I only follow my first rule of travel, travel where your friends are.

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A common reading location a couple of blocks from my work

I have found myself in Reunion Island- off the coast of Madagascar because of my rule. Following Djibouti, I had a decision to make. I had enough money to either head home, to Iowa, or to take a plane somewhere and find some work until my Fulbright begins. When I studied abroad in Tahiti, my host sister, Lea, and I became rather close. Over the past couple of years, we have stayed in touch. She is originally from Reunion Island, but her family moved to Tahiti during her teen years. She missed her extended family and the island’s way of life and so she found herself back here in the past year. Upon hearing my situation, she told me I was not to head back to Iowa, but rather I must come see her island.

Of course, I did as I was told. My decision might have something to do with the fact that I enjoy my time in Tahiti and missed the laissez-faire attitude of islanders. For my four month break, I knew I wanted a mental break. Reunion seemed to be the best location for it. Knowing Lea took care of me in Tahiti, I knew she would take care of me in Reunion.

 

This remains true. I currently am staying with her and her boyfriend. We live right outside of Reunion’s capital city, St. Denis. Within a week, I found a job as a waitress willing to sponsor me for a work visa. It is a perfect job for a night-owl and wannabe French speaker like myself.

Currently I spend my days waking up late, practicing my cooking skills, heading to town, reading and writing by the ocean or at a local cafe, and then heading to work to practice my French.

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Daily pre-work ritual- coffee and books

My only distress is that I am forced to learn manual if I do not wish to take the public bus anymore and that my apartment does not have wifi. It ended up working out for me, as I have read all the books I traveled with. If you have not read The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, I personally recommend you do so before the movie comes out next summer.

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Reunion is a tad different than French Polynesia. Due to its overseas territory status, the French seem to exhibit more influence than it does over Tahiti. Reunion is an active volcano, spewing lava as we speak. (Hoping to visit it, soon.) And therefore, more mountainous than Tahiti. Due to the strength of the Indian Ocean, swimming at the beach is less popular, but still a pastime.

I look forward to experiencing the culture Reunion has to offer. Already I adore their love for dancing. After I was told, “You are not the average American dancer- you have a beat.” I decided it is my job to change the incapable American dancer stereotype.

A tremendous undertaking, yes, but nothing I cannot handle. We shall see what comes of this undertaking at the end of my stay..

-Bills

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