As our time comes to a close for the language assistants on Réunion Island, it is a time for joy, a time for tears, a time for hugs and, of course, a time for harrowing moonlit hiking excursions capped by jovial feasts and accordion-filled serenades atop a mountain summit. Ok, perhaps this isn’t the most ordinary way to bid farewell, but for the language assistants of Réunion Island, our style is anything but ordinary. It is for this same reason that this unconventional last hurrah for our German companions hit right on the mark.
The activities began on an early Saturday afternoon as assistants assembled and left in small groups from the various trail departure points accessible from the village Entre-Deux. After a slightly delayed start, we were on our way, ascending towards the peak. Although there are four main hiking trails leading to the peak, all of the assistants chose either Zèbre, the second most difficult, or Chapelle, widely considered the easiest of the four
Despite leaving at different times and hiking at various speeds, most of us arrived at our final destination, Chez Valmir, by 6pm. By 7pm the high-spirited hikers collected together for an aperitif at the central refuge. The celebration livened as we mixed and mingled, punch in hand, and Valmir began to regale us with songs on his accordion.
Near 8pm the tables were set and we seated ourselves at the benches in the dining hall, which resembled something of a medieval German alehouse. The food was sizzling in massive pots in the fireplace, ready to be served. The plates were passed around and we dined like royalty on yellow rice with saffron, marinated chicken and shrimp in a red sauce with herbs and spices. As dinner came to a close and we received our desert fruit cocktails, Valmir came out once again and serenaded us, this time with a guitar and accordion.
At nearly 9:30pm, our final two hiking groups arrived to a joyous applause and standing ovation. The fun was now officially ready to begin as we stood on tables and benches, arm in arm, swaying to the beat. Tables disappeared as the dining hall gave way to a large open dance floor where we danced the night away.
Another typical adventure for the language assistants of Réunion Island. I bet you always wondered what your teachers did in their free time…
Harrowing – périlleux
Capped – fini avec
Trail – sentier
Mingle – se mêler à
Alehouse – taverne
Sizzling – grésillant
Fireplace – cheminée
Swaying – ondulant
Wondered – se demander