La Réunion Lé La !

When I went back home to visit family and friends in March, I was flooded with questions about how life was on the ‘distant and far away’ Reunion Island.  In Australia, this island is something exotic, and not everyone has heard about it.   I remember the time I told my mum that I was going to live and work in Reunion, and a look of panic came over her face – “But, aren’t there pirates in that part of the world?!?”  When I told a lady at the cash register that I was teaching English in Reunion, an island close to Africa.  She looked at me in awe = ‘we need more people like you in the world who devote their time to aid work’ …

The usual spiel I give people consists of the following observations: it’s hot, there are bugs everywhere, fruit is abundant, buses don’t run on time, people don’t run on time, the lagoon is awesome, just like the pictures you see on postcards, the people are friendly.  But the island has become something more to me, which is an idea that a text like this can’t convey.

Both periods of time that I have been in Reunion have been moments of self-discovery and creativity. Travelling anywhere away from home will evoke this type of personal growth, but why do I always end up here?  For me, there seems to be magic or a connection that I can’t see, but I certainly feel.  To express my gratitude to this incredible place, I wrote a poem, which soon turned into a song.  Here it is…

Needing a change, fly to an unknown place.
Trying to find the perfect option, a tropical island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Where white birds with straws for tails fly overhead,
And the locals speak in special code, it’s Creole I think they said.
Beach all around and coral lacing the sand,
A paradise of sorts with the sun on demand

Réunion Lé Là, we come together,
People from all over, with their cultures to offer.

Hiking, Canyoning, essential oils, plants growing from volcanic soil.
Those who come understand, Reunion is a lucky island.
Lychees light up the trees with scarlet, bananas grow at the drop of a hat.
Sugar cane fields line the roads, in summer we drown in mangoes.

Tour the island in a weekend, share a picnic on Sunday with family and friends.
A place where I can always see the ocean, where spirits are high and arms are open

Réunion Lé Là, we come together,
People from all over, with their cultures to offer.


to be flooded = être inondé
cash register = la caisse
spiel = baratin
bugs = insects
to run on time = être à l’heure 

to convey = exprimer
self-discovery = découverte de soi
personal growth = culture personnelle
to end up = finir
straw = paille

overhead = au-dessus de nos têtes
to lace = orner
on demand = sur demande
soil = terre
lucky = chanceux 

to light up = allumer
scarlet = écarlate
at the drop of a hat = tout dans un coup
to drown = se noyer
spirit = esprit

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