“Zot tout” is Creole for “à tout”. You see, my Creole is improving, word by word!
Joyeuses fêtes is plural for a reason. Since I last wrote, Reunion has celebrated not one, not two, but three massive holidays: Christmas, New Years, and the one you may not have guessed, Fête Kaf on Dec 20 to commemorate the abolition of slavery on Reunion in 1848.
Here’s a brief and probably incoherent summary of the past two weeks in photos.
Jumping from these cliffs is a popular past-time. A friend of mine just fractured a vertebrae doing it. I was there for the phone call: “Mom, I’m alright, so don’t worry. But… I broke a vertebrae today.” She’s recovering and won’t jump from as high next time.
Pétanque is the bocce of the Francophone world, and some neighborhood dudes invited me to play a round during their Fete Kaf tournament. I have not been invited back.
Christmas dinner German style: I celebrated Christmas with 5 Germans and an Austrian high in the mountains where the temperature differential from the balmy coast made us feel more Weihnachtlich. It was probably still 70 degrees.
Our Advent Wreath, or one of its candles, suffered greatly from the Saint-Pierre sun.
A quick visit to the local turtle sanctuary in Saint-Leu.
Lychees are inseparable components of Christmas on Reunion. Street corner vendors began selling them for upwards of 5 Euros per kg at the beginning of December with the first harvests of the season. By the end of the month, you can get 2kg for 1Euro50.
Twin lychees, like these, are the object of an odd Creole tradition. The person who finds the twin lychees chooses a partner to wager dares with. Once the players have agreed on each other’s dares, each player grabs a lychee and breaks the pair. The following day, the first player to shout “Philippine” at first sight of the other wins the game and is immune from his dare, while the loser must face up to his own. I won the game and spared myself from singing the French National Anthem in front of all my colleagues in the teacher’s lounge.
The road to Cilaos where I celebrated Christmas and hiked the Piton des Neiges, the highest point on the Indian Ocean, for New Year’s. I had to go through this tunnel on my bike.
At the 10,069 ft summit of the Piton des Neiges. Not pictured: extremely heavy backpack. Daytime high: 65 degrees F. Night time low: 50 degrees F.
Watching every firework show around the island burst and flash simultaneously from it’s highest mountain was one of the greatest New Year’s Eve spectacles I’ve ever seen, only made better by a coinciding meteor shower and the sunrise over the neighboring volcano (see eruption posts from October).
Island fever is setting in, so I’m leaving Reunion for three weeks starting Jan 4th. (Although I’m only jumping from one island to another right next door.) I’ll be in Madagascar, the Comoros, and Mayotte until the end of January, so best wishes for 2011, and I’ll be back (on the blog) in February!