American

Survival Skill Workshop

In my opinion, one of the best things about Reunion is how close we are to nature here. I wanted to learn more about living in nature, and stumbled upon something they called a “Survival Skills Workshop.” It was a weekend of living in nature with practically nothing—a knife, some military rations, a sleeping bag, and that’s it. We met Olivier, the ex military man who taught the workshop, at Langevin, and from there we marched up and up into the forest, near a river.

The first thing we had to do was prepare wood for a fire, so five of us started chopping dry wood with our knives, and the other five went to go find bamboo which we cut up and used for drinking cups and plates. I didn’t know that every segment of bamboo had a divider inside, so once cut, the segments make perfect cups that you can even heat over the fire! It was great for some coffee in the morning 😉

After the wood and bamboo were cut, we cleared all the rocks out of a flat area, and spread leaves over it. That was were we slept, in our emergency blankets and sleeping bags to keep us warm.

Next we learned how to hunt zandettes—the big fat worms that live in wood. We had ten mintues to find a zandette, bring it to Olivier, and eat it in front of him—raw!!! I couldn’t believe it. But I will always try anything at least once…so I started frantically cutting up wood in search of my zandette. Unfortunately, I found the biggest zandette possible and everyone “ewwwed” when I brought it to Olivier. He let me at least rip off the head first. It was slimy and disgusting and I will never eat zandette again!!

But the zandette wasn’t the worst part!! Next, they brought out the mysterious moving bag we carried up. I figured it was a chicken…but then Olivier pulled the cutest little rabbit out of the bag!! I am a vegetarian, but I thought I was prepared to really participate in the workshop and maybe watch how a chicken is killed. As soon as I saw the rabbit, I started to cry—I couldn’t imagine killing it. They all got this crazy idea that they would make one of the girls kill the rabbit! There were only three of us and all three of us were crying by now. Actually, no one wanted to kill the rabbit, and some of the men were vegetarians too. They took the rabbit to the back, and when it started to squeal, we all walked sadly to the river together so we didn’t have to hear the sounds.

So the vegetarians ate some grilled zandettes, grilled chouchou we found near the river, and some military rations! We were happy with that.

Vocabulary

to stumble upon – trouver par hasard
knife – couteau
sleeping bag – sac de couchage
workshop – atelier
marched up – défiler

to spread – étaler
worm – un ver
ewww – beurk
brought out – sortir
figured – calculer

cutest – le plus mignon
squeal – cri perçant

Normal Version

Slow Version

Downloads

Normal Version

Slow Version

Text

Americans in Mafate

Last year two of my girlfriends from back home in Texas came to visit. They were girls I knew from working in a bar while going to college, and we would do a lot of partying back then…but just as often, I’d meet them at the gym and we’d work out together. So I thought they were kind of sporty, you know?

Well I was very very wrong. Before they got here, I asked if they were up for hiking and they agreed. I suppose I never considered that to a normal American, a hike is just like a flat trail in some trees. I took them to what I was told was the easiest hike in Reunion…going down to La Nouvelle in Mafate.

You park your car in this big parking lot and you have to walk over to the start of the trail…maybe just like a ten minute walk on a tiny incline. JUST THAT PART—from the parking lot to the trail–that walk–had them complaining and breathing hard. They asked if it counted as part of the 2 hours we would be hiking. My Reunionais husband thought they were joking…and he was really shocked to learn that they were not!!

We started the hike and it was just horrible. The girls were complaining the entire time, I felt so guilty because I wanted them to come here and have fun, and it really seemed like I was ruining their lives!! So we walked the whole way in an angry, awkward silence. And it was just awful. After we arrived in Mafate, we took showers and everyone felt much better. We kind of calmed down, and..we had a great dinner and drank lots of rum and danced under the beautiful stars. It was a perfect night. But my friends had resolved to find ANY way out of walking back up the mountain the next morning.

They were asking everyone in the gite how to get out of Mafate without walking. As you might know, there are not many other options out of Mafate. Except one. By helicopter. I don’t know how it happened, but my beautiful, blonde Texas friend somehow convinced the owner of the gite to get us a ride out of Mafate in the morning with his cousin, who was (happily) a helicopter pilot.

We weren’t 100% sure we could get a ride until 6:00 the next morning when the gite guy came to the window and said “hey if you’re going, you have five minutes before my cousin leaves!” We threw everything into a sack and raced out of the gite…running towards the deafening blades of the helicopter. All of the other travellers in the gite came out of their rooms to laugh and wave us on our way.

My husband and I were so embarrassed!!! But at least now, everyone has a great story about the time they met some Americans in Mafate.

Vocabulary

College – La Fac
To party – Faire la fete
To work out – Entraîner
To be up for – Être prèt a faire qq chose
To complain – Se plaindre

To breathe – Respirer
To joke – Plaisanter
Somehow – D’une manière ou d’une autre
Deafening – Assourdissant 

Normal Version

Slow Version

Downloads

Normal Version

Slow Version

Text

Dimitile

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…

Vocabulary

Harrowing – périlleux
Capped – fini avec
Trail – sentier
Mingle – se mêler à
Alehouse – taverne

Sizzling – grésillant
Fireplace – cheminée
Swaying – ondulant
Wondered – se demander

Normal Version

Slow Version

Downloads

Normal Version

Slow Version

Text

Mermaid School

My favourite thing to do in the world is to act. Acting has been my passion ever since I can remember and I even studied theatre arts in college. I didn’t know any actors or theatres in Reunion, so as soon as I heard there was an audition for an indie film called Sirana, I knew I just had to go. At least, you know, to meet, I don’t know, people involved with film and theatre on the island.

I ended up getting the role for the mermaid Sirana. I was thrilled but also kind of nervous because I knew I would have to do some really complicated things in the water. I am a certified scuba diver but for this role I would be diving without a mask, without air, without fins, and wearing a dress that weighed 20 pounds when wet (9 kgs). Kind of a challenge!

So I called Stefaan Dewulf from Wulfy Diving. He’s a professional scuba diver and a good friend. I told him what I was doing and asked for some tips on freediving. He said it would be even better if we could meet up in person because telling someone and showing them how to freedive are two very different things. So that how I started my training as a mermaid.

It helped a lot that I dive regularly with Wulfy so I know that he’s very knowledgeable. When it comes to the ocean honestly, Wulfy is someone you know you can trust. He’s the only person who made me feel at ease when I first arrived in Reunion about going in the ocean despite all the stories about sharks.

So Wulfy and I met as often as possible for my mermaid training at Cap La Houssaye. He lent me a mono-fin to practice with – a mono-fin is like a giant fin for both your feet, and it just kind of looks like a mermaid tail. And we did lots of exercises for breath control so I could hold my breath longer and longer under the water.

It was really an incredible experience because we were practicing alongside giant schools of sardines, a friendly turtle, and, you know, fish of every colour. I really loved going to Mermaid school – it introduced me to the world of freediving and I’m even planning on continuing to learn more about this beautiful and challenging sport.

Vocabulary

to act – jouer (la comédie)
college – la fac
at least – au moins
mermaid – sirène
thrilled – ravi

fins – palmes
dress – robe
to weigh – peser
wet – mouillé
tips – astuces

freediving – plongée en apnée
training – formation
knowledgeable – bien informé
despite – malgré
sharks – requins

to lend – preter
tail – queue
turtle – tortue

Normal Version

Slow Version

Downloads

Normal Version

Slow Version

Text