Carless in Reunion

Driving through St Paul at seven am, or better yet, driving to St Denis when the coastal road is closed and you are forced to take the winding road through La Montagne. I think these are the moments that make any resident of Reunion wish that they were home in bed, or riding a bike, or doing anything but driving in their car. In 2014 there were an estimated 336,000 cars on the island; that’s almost one car for every two inhabitants (and many of those inhabitants are not even of legal driving age.) That’s a lot of cars, and now, a few years later, I can only assume that there are even more!

Since arriving on the island almost four years ago, my partner and I are on our fourth car.  We sold the first one, broke the second one, the third one is still going strong, thank goodness, and I bought the fourth one just last week. After breaking the second car I decided to go without a car, I let my partner take the third car to work each day, and I stayed home. I was the literal definition of a stay-at-home mum. After spending seven months of being trapped in the hills of St Leu with an infant, I gave in and I bought a car.

If I still lived in Japan, going carless would be simple, hop on a bike, metro, train, or walk. But in Reunion living carless means riding a bike up huge hills (by the way, I live five hundred metres above sea level), walking on the road, since sidewalks are almost non-existent, or waiting forever for a mini bus with seven seats and sporadic hours. Not that I am criticising the bus system, actually I’m impressed at some of the roads that they venture onto. I was just not ready to wait in the sun and hop on a bus with my diaper bag, stroller, beach gear and new-born in arm. I chose to buy an inflatable pool and stay at home instead. But now that the pool turned green and my son is almost walking I decided that I needed to get out of the house. So, car number four is in the driveway.

Sitting in traffic on my way to St Paul last week didn’t feel so bad, even if the new car is making weird clunking noises, it’s all a part of the game. I have accepted the fact that in Reunion a car is almost a necessity. Unless of course you live along the coast, close to everything, but then you have other necessities… Like air conditioning.


coastal – littoral
winding – sinueux
to assume – supposer
partner – compagnon, compagne
thank goodness – heureusement

stay-at-home mum – mère au foyer
trapped – bloqué
in the hills – dans les hauts
infant – nourrisson
to give in- craquer

by the way – à propos
sidewalk – trottoir
to criticise – critiquer
venture – se risquer
diaper bag – sac à langer

stroller – poussette
newborn – nouveau-né
inflatable pool – piscine gonflable
driveway – parking
traffic – bouchon

clunking – bruit sourd
air conditioning – climatisation

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6 réflexions au sujet de “Carless in Reunion

  1. Very good ! Keep going, i Will attend to the Next lesson
    Christophe Ribuot
    I am well settled now in Martinique and the traffic jam is not so bad, at least better compared to reunion island ? take care and big hug to your son.

    • Christophe!!! Good to hear that you settled in alright, I hope that the hunt for a new house is going well… Will you find another house on the beach like you had in Reunion?? As for the podcasts, have you listened to any of the older ones? There are a lot of really good ones!!

  2. Very interesting ! That’s my life in La Possession (Road of La Montagne)!I could have written this story as well with the same examples !!Thank you for writing it!

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