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.
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.
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.