It’s All About Balance

Ask my partner what his favourite sport is and he will, without a doubt, respond “Slacklining”. For those of you who aren’t sure what this sport is, you might have seen it on the beach. It’s a flat webbed line that is set up between two anchors (for example: two trees) and then individuals, such as my partner will then balance and walk across it, or try to do certain tricks such as sitting down with their legs crossed. But it doesn’t just stop there, there are many categories, including: highline (a slackline set up, for example, in between two mountains), jumpline (instead of walking across, the slacker performs tricks while bouncing on the line) and waterline (slackline set up over water) as some of you may have seen in St Gilles in front of the waterfalls.

When we first arrived in Reunion Island, four years ago, my partner would set up his slackline on the beach, which would result in many stares and looks of surprise, there just weren’t that many people doing it here. There were even times when random people would break out in applause when a slacker would accomplish a difficult trick.

As time went on the slackliners on the island formed a small community, which eventually grew into a slackline association. Nowadays when you go to the beach there is a slackline set up every 20 meters, and you see everyone from children to grandparents testing out their balance. However, many of the die-hard slackliners tend to stick together, organizing meetings, events, and installations, sharing a passion that they all have in common, that of balance.

Slacklining on the island has evolved, just as the slackliners continue to evolve testing slacklines that are more and more challenging, longer and higher each time.  Just last year a well-known slackliner from France, Nathan Paulin came to Reunion to break the Highline world record and crossed 403meters on his second try! He has since, broken this record and crossed a 1km Highline in France. Highlining isn’t just about the slackline, it’s also about the installation which requires lots of equipment and some rock climbing know-how, and there is also the mental aspect of getting over your fear of heights, the one time I tried a highline my brain somehow missed out on the “you are safe, you’re wearing a harness” messages I was sending to it, and I was frozen with fear, I couldn’t even attempt to stand up on the line as I was hanging on for dear life.

Connected to nature, the rush of adrenaline, working every muscle in your body as you attempt to fight the urge to topple to the ground, and just like many things in life slacklining is all about balance.

Vocabulary

webbed line = sangle
balance = équilibre
tricks = figures
waterfalls = cascades
to stare = fixer (du regard)

applause = applaudissements
to form = former
to grow = se développer
nowadays = de nos jours
die-hard = fervent

to stick together = rester ensemble
well known = bien connu
world record = record du monde
to cross = traverser
rock climbing = escalade

know-how = savoir-faire
fear of heights = peur du vide
harness = baudrier
to hang on for dear life = se cramponner de toutes ses forces
to topple = tomber

Full Episode Video

Full Episode Audio

Slow Version

Vocabulary

Downloads (right-click & save)

Full Episode Audio

Slow Version Audio

Vocabulary Audio

Full Text & Vocabulary PDF

Idiots on the Road

Most people do it, and I’m sure most people hate it. Driving. The bane of my life since I got my license. I don’t know about you, but I find driving in Reunion an outright nightmare. Driving on the right, indicating when you overtake on the dual carriageway, fine, I can handle that. What I can’t handle are the thousands of other drivers out there who don’t know how to bloody drive!

I don’t know what annoys me most. Is it people who don’t know how to stay in their lane? That really grates me. No, I think what’s worse are those maniacs who drive right up your backside when you’re on the overtaking lane. As if their very presence would tempt me into forcing myself into the right-hand lane.

How many times have I been cut off by people who just forget about their stop sign? Too many to count I think.

Naturally, I get angry when I drive. I shout at people, I show them various fingers in frustration, naturally. My wife sat beside me, doesn’t like it when I get angry. Especially when I’m at a roundabout and nobody knows where they’re going!

Her advice to me is as follows: ‘Be a rubbish driver too’. Ridiculous. Unimaginable. Me, stay on the right lane, no matter which exit I take on the roundabout? I suppose that would mean that I couldn’t get cut off, but that’s not the rule!

Thank you for listening to me vent my frustration. I’m finding this very therapeutic.

When self-driving cars become mainstream, I will be a happy man. I can just imagine myself sat there on the way to work, hurtling down the Tamarin road, drinking my tea and eating my rougail saucisse with the window open. Calling to fellow drivers “Good day dear sir, lovely day for a drive, isn’t it? Toodle pip!” I have a strange imagination.

A question for all of you; What annoys you most about driving in Reunion? Is it the idiots on the roundabouts? The fools who forget they have indicators? The psychos who drive “this” close to your boot? The dopes who run stop signs? I’d love to know.

Well, have a lovely week, stay safe on the road and don’t forget to use your flipping indicators.

Vocabulary

bane – fléau
license – permis
outright – carrément
dual carriageway – quatre voies
to annoy – ennuyer

to grate – agacer
backside – arrière
overtaking – dépassement
to shout – crier
roundabout – rond-point

rubbish – nul
vent – décharger
self-driving cars – voitures autonomes
mainstream – courant
to hurtle – lancer à vive allure

fellow drivers – compagnons de route
toodle pip! – ciao !
fool – imbécile
to run stop signs – brûler les stops
indicators – clignotants

Full Episode Video

Full Episode Audio

Slow Version

Vocabulary

Downloads (right-click & save)

Full Episode Audio

Slow Version Audio

Vocabulary Audio

Full Text & Vocabulary PDF

Natural Beauties

There’s nothing better in life than when we feel truly lucky!  The delight comes when there are no expectations set, no worries about missing out, and having an idea about how to acknowledge and experience feelings of gratitude.

Upon coming to Reunion Island, I already felt like I had won the lottery – having found such a great opportunity, which seemed like something ‘out of the blue’.

Within my first week of being here, I heard about the complete solar eclipse which was to darken the island on the 1st of September, 2016.  Best place to see it?  Oh, you know, Central Africa/Reunion Island… and even better still – it was taking place at the New Moon – a time of change and new beginnings in the Lunar Cycle.

My colleagues had organised to attend a special Solar Eclipse Meditation.  I gladly went along.  Not only did we witness the moon passing over the sun, we were also able to connect with ourselves with Tibetan bowl ceremonies, yoga, and affirmations, as well as each other (hugging each and every other attendee at the very end and celebrating such an exciting natural event together).  You couldn’t wipe the smile from my face since I was just so appreciative of the whole experience.

So one can imagine my surprise when September’s Full Moon conjured magma from the depths of Piton de la Fournaise to spill out from one of its many active openings!

My first attraction to La Réunion (since 2010) was its volcano, which sits in the top 3 of the World’s most active. It was my first time EVER seeing a volcanic eruption, having completely missed its eruption of 2014 after my first stay on the island.

We spent a good one and a half hours driving to the site, and caught the sunrise above the clouds as we ascended La Route du Volcan.

The hike from the parking lot to the viewing point was on terrain that appears to be quite dry and rugged.  Up at those heights on the island, one gets a sense of drought, so no surprises when I had flashbacks of hiking in the Flinders Ranges back home!  I had forgotten my handy head lamp, but thanks to impeccable timing, the full moon lit most of the way for me.

So there you have it, two incredible, natural events within less than a month… a friend of mine tells me that all good things come in threes…

Vocabulary

expectation = attente
to miss out = rater
to acknowledge = reconnaître
gratitude = reconnaissance
the lottery = la loterie

out of the blue = inattendu
to darken = assombrir
to take place = avoir lieu
colleague = collègue
gladly = avec plaisir

to connect with oneself = reconnecter avec soi-même
to wipe =  effacer
to conjure = faire apparaitre
depths = profondeurs
to spill out = se répandre

sunrise = lever du soleil
rugged = accidenté
drought = une sécheresse
Flinders Ranges = chaine de montagnes en AUS
handy = pratique

Full Episode Video

Full Episode Audio

Slow Version

Vocabulary

Downloads (right-click & save)

Full Episode Audio

Slow Version Audio

Vocabulary Audio

Full Text & Vocabulary PDF

All Islands Are NOT Created Equally

My first visit to Reunion was a vacation my husband and I took quite a few years before deciding to move here. After the two-week visit, my husband and I definitely felt like it was a place we would want to settle down. And before the move, we were also able to spend some time in Guam and Hawaii.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Guam, it is a quaint island south of Japan in the North Pacific that few French know about. To be fair, it is much smaller than Reunion with a population of about 160,000 people. Guam has some beautiful beaches and aquatic flora and fauna, as well as friendly locals. It is a popular vacation hotspot for the Japanese who flock there for shotgun weddings and luxury shopping and also has a large American military presence. However, Hawaii still remains a top island vacation spot for Americans, much like Reunion is to the French.

It is safe to say that Hawaii is very similar to Reunion. Administratively speaking, it is one of the 50 states; it is extremely culturally rich and has very similar topographical features to Reunion. Hawaii is great for snorkeling, beautiful beaches, tide pool exploring, hiking, and getting a bird’s eye view of it all in a helicopter. Hawaiians are very warm, welcoming and proud of their heritage. This is all part of the “Aloha” spirit along with the “shaka” hand sign which can mean anything from “hello” to “life is good”.

By the end of all of these trips, we were, of course, experts on island living. However, nothing could’ve really prepared me for life here. I have had more “there’s a first time for everything” moments than ever in my 30+ years of existence.

I will never forget one of the first times I walked my kids to school, there was a chicken foot on the sidewalk and an enormous centipede about 10 feet farther. When we bit in to the candy canes we had used to decorate our Christmas tree, they had turned into chewing gum because of the heat. I have never been at a check out stand where the person in front of me was buying chicken livers, the fry of fish, and wasp larvae all at once. I have never been able to run up in the mountains and go to the beach in the same day. Something quirky happens every day and there is so much more to experience. As they say variety is the spice of life, and here it just happens to be very spicy.

Vocabulary

to settle down = s’installer
quaint = pittoresque
fair = juste
hotspot = endroit populaire
to flock = affluer

shotgun = de façon rapide
features = caractéristiques
snorkelling = palmes, masque, tuba
tide pool = flaque de marée
Aloha: “Bonjour” en Hawaiien

could’ve = aurait pu
centipede = scolopendre
farther = plus loin
to bite = mordre
candy canes = sucre d’orges

heat = chaleur
check out stand = la caisse
wasp = guêpe
quirky =  original
variety is the spice of life = La diversité, c’est ce qui met du piment dans la vie 

Full Episode Video

Full Episode Audio

Slow Version

Vocabulary

Downloads (right-click & save)

Full Episode Audio

Slow Version Audio

Vocabulary Audio

Full Text & Vocabulary PDF