The First Time

It has now been over a month since I arrived in La Réunion. One is easily drawn into the sense of satisfaction and the moments of reverie that such a milestone tends to entail. I refer to myself as “one” here, in order to prove both the timeless beauty and the grammatical merit of this gender-neutral, indefinite pronoun to a couple of my American counterparts who are not so keen.

Even a month in, there are moments when I have to pinch myself. Not literally, but still. It is hard to describe Reunion, but wow, this place is truly extraordinary. Politically, it is a French department with the same status as any region in mainland France, meaning that it has EU and Eurozone status despite its position far beyond European borders. Culturally, Reunion is a confusing medley of French, African, Indian and many other influences. Geographically, the island is incredibly diverse. In the west are the beautiful beaches that are required of a tropical island paradise, and inside the island lie lush and exotic forests. But there’s more: dramatic cirques, fresh waterfalls, even an active volcano.

In the Cirque de Mafate. Incredibly scenery.
In the Cirque de Mafate. Incredible scenery.

It certainly hasn’t been plain sailing all the way (more on the public transport to come), and I would be lying if I said that I find life here easy. And yet, every so often I look around me and see something extraordinary, and then I remember why I am here.

Reunion is a great place to be active, and whilst I’m not into mountaineering or climbing, discovering the stunning interior of the island on foot has been a personal highlight for me. My time in Reunion has also been marked by various firsts. The first time that I have swum in the waters of the Indian Ocean. The first time that I have opened a bank account abroad (managed to avoid that one in Switzerland). The first time that I have lived in France (weird, but this is France after all). The first time that I have gone grocery shopping and then left it all on the bus on the way back. My first kebab, even.

First encounter with the Indian Ocean.
My first encounter with the Indian Ocean.

So these are my opening remarks, if you will, as I reflect on my first month in La Réunion. There’s so much more to discover and I shall endeavour to share as much as I can on this blog.

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