A while ago, I met an elderly couple who had lived in Le Tampon since they were born. We were talking about how beautiful Reunion Island is, and the huge variety of places to visit on the island. During our conversation, I was shocked to discover that in 80 years of living in Reunion, they had never been to the beach. « Are you sure? » I asked, knowing that the beach was just a 20 minute drive away. But they insisted that they had spent their lives working and visiting friends only around Le Tampon. It was too hot and crowded on the coast, they told me.
If that hadn’t shocked me enough, I also have a friend in his 30s who had never been out of his hometown, St Paul until he was a teenager. And I know a woman who grew up in the south of Reunion and only visited St Denis for the first time when she was 20 years old.
At first, I couldn’t understand these stories. After all, my Reunionese colleagues, friends and in-laws are often going overseas on holidays and I meet people all the time that have been to Australia, where I’m from. But I guess when you live somewhere so beautiful all your life you get complacent about exploring it. After all, I’ve been here for 5 years now and still haven’t made the effort to visit Cilaos or go paragliding, two things I’ve wanted to do from the moment I arrived.
Yesterday, I was at the farmer’s markets when I bumped into a Reunionese friend I hadn’t seen for a while. I was telling her about the wonderful day I’d just spent at Langevin, swimming in the river and enjoying the fresh air. « Oh », she said. « I’ve never been to Langevin. But I just got back from a holiday to your country. The Sydney Opera House is amazing, isn’t it?! »
I laughed and answered, « I don’t know. I’ve never been there. »
Crowded – blindé
Hometown – ville natale
Teenager – ado
In-laws – belle-famille
Overseas – outre-mer
Guess – supposer
Paragliding – parapente
Farmers’ market – marché fermier
To bump into – tomber sur