Monday, October 29, 2012

"Ti Pa Ti Pa..."

Another week on the island, and things continue to come together!  Although I'm still getting settled into a routine, I have taken note of one routine that's started to form:

- Wake up
- Drink coffee
- Put on my SPF 100 to go outside
- Get mocked incessantly for putting on SPF 100
- Burn anyway
- Use aloe like the sweet, sweet drug that it is
- Repeat

Irish heritage.  It's a great time.

Aaaanyway, I'll jump right ahead and explain the title of this post, which is my favorite Creole phrase ever.   It's been awhile since I've done a linguistics adventure in my blog, so here ya go.  "Ti pa Ti pa" is derived from the French "petites pattes, petites pattes," which means, "little paws, little paws."  It's basically a way of saying "little by little... things fall into place."  But you have to imagine a cute little puppy trying to walk paw after paw to get the full effect of this phrase :P

Actually, you should probably imagine this exact puppy.  My friend Cara found this lil stud as a newborn in her yard and we spent all weekend playing with him.  Currently experiencing really painful puppy withdrawal.  Just look at his lil ears waaaaah

Can't lie to you though, this week's been a kicker.  Probably my hardest one yet.  Here's a recap:

On the plus side, my first day of teaching was absolutely incredible.  My kids were engaged, hilarious, and perfect.  I spent the day being asked about whether Mitt Romney was a member of the Illuminati, getting grilled on the American electoral college (538 votes guys, I'll never forget again!) and passing around my $1 bill, which the kids decided to sniff to see if it smelled like America (they assured me that it did not, and were hugely disappointed).  It was a fantastic - albeit very election-themed - time and I wish I could remember more of the specifics to share.

In terms of my classes, every single class is unique in its own right.  I have quite a spectrum, with plenty of differences in language ability and motivation from class to class.  In one class, I had a kid ask me if I was taught evolution or creationism in school.  Anyone else remember being that astute at age 16?  Pretty sure I was more worried about makeup and boys than religious influence in the public school system.  Questions like that kinda make me want to cry happy, happy tears of joy for humanity, actually.

Seeing the kids out of class is even better; I get plenty of waves and smug expressions followed by a thickly accented, "Hello, how are you!" in the hallways, and one of my girls even yelled "I love you Bridget!" from down the hall this morning.  We'll see what happens when I have to start giving them grades, but for now, it's really awesome.

My favorite moment BY FAR had to have been today, though, when I ended up spending 20 minutes discussing the negative effects of marijuana with a group of boys in my class. ("Legalize it, don't criticize it, Madame!" I was subsequently reprimanded... :P) After school, I was sauntering down to my bus stop.  I happened to stumble upon the same group of boys standing in a circle next to the stop, who happened to be smoking something that I can assume pretty safely wasn't a cigarette... mostly because as soon as they saw me, their faces suddenly bore these identical horrified expressions and they took off running down the street.

Tomorrow's gonna be fun.

Anyway, Monday night after my oh-so-wonderful day, I got violently, violently ill.  Like, run-to-the-bathroom-and-retch-to-the-heavens-every-30-minutes ill.  After this continued for 7-8 hours, my landlady appeared at the doorway to my porcelain hideout and told me we were going to the doctor.  So at 3:00 a.m. we journeyed down to the clinic, where the doctor did the following: assured me that I didn't have appendicitis, took my blood pressure and gave me anti-nausea pills (which I then threw up immediately after leaving the office), then told me I owed him 700 euros.  Excellent.  Because I didn't have French Social Security, my landlady offered to pay for me and have me pay her back.  I was sick and poor and wanted to die.

I was bedridden until Thursday.  But apparently, thankfully, being sick also makes me terrible at French.  Because when I thought the doctor had said 700 euros, he had really said 67.  Derp.  So, at least I'm no longer as poor as I thought.  Thursday morning, however, was another beautiful adventure... after missing two buses and arriving in a breathless frenzy at my visa appointment (the one REALLY IMPORTANT appointment you can't miss here) I stood at the door of the Immigration Office with a giant CLOSED sign staring down at me.  Cool, bureaucrats.  You gave me an appointment on a day that you're closed.  So instead of finally having my visa approved and happily frolicking legally down the streets of Saint Denis, I spent all day lying in my bed, hating the world, trying my hand at really emotional poetry (you have no idea how much I wish I were kidding), wondering why the French don't want me to stay on Reunion.

And of course, ti pa ti pa.  Friday I went back to the office, explained my situation, and everything went off without a hitch.

As I'm writing this post, I'm realizing that this week really wasn't bad at all.  Because between those horrible and stressful moments, I also:

- Swam in the incredibly clear and perfect water of Bassin Bleu this weekend, which is straight up the bluest water I've ever seen (pictures coming when I steal them from Bruce)

- Went to an ab fab restaurant called "Oncle Sam" (yeah, I died too) where they serve about a million types of Samoussas, a Reunionnais delicacy, in addition to hamburgers and fries

- Bought a tuna sandwich for an elderly Mauritian woman named Beronique at the bus stop, who told me that she liked my kind heart and blue eyes, and who gave me four very enthusisastic and loving bisous after I'd known her for 20 minutes

- Taught my kids the phrase 'elephant in the room,' which resulted in a couple of elephant impersonations and a lot of accusing people of sleeping with other people's relatives (an excellent example how one poorly chosen hypothetical can turn against you, I guess)

- Continued to learn random creole phrases

- Laughed.  My God, I laughed so much this week.

Basically, It's becoming increasingly clear to me that I'm falling in love with this place... ti pa ti pa. :)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Good ole American consumerism, Thanksgiving dinners... and a smile.

Wanna hear something unreal?

Tomorrow, I will have been on this island for one month.

WHAT.  No.  Surely I just left Georgia last week.  Really?

I mostly find this amusing because I feel as though I've done very little work.  (Which, to be fair, I only officially 'worked' for one of the four weeks I've been here... life is so hard.)  It also makes me realize that I only have 6 MONTHS LEFT.  While that seems like forever, I know how fast one month went.  The next six might go even faster.  It helps me remember that there's so much I need to get done.  I have a cool little to-do list that I might post later that has things from "go skydiving" to "eat a lychee" and everything in between.

Before I do all of those things, though, I'll recap the past week!

Last weekend, Eileen (fellow American) and I hopped on a bus to St Pierre, where we spent the day layin' on the beach, eating some incredibly fabulous pasta and partying it up with other assistants.  Some of the assistants in St Pierre bought an apartment unfurnished, so it was really awesome seeing how they'd furnished their apartment with odds and ends.. my favorite, by far, being the tire that they found on the side of the road that they thought would make a fantastic chair.  It's a bit bouncy, but it certainly gets the job done.

We had our first night out in St Pierre, where I learned that you should probably invest slightly more than 3,50 euro on alcohol unless you're cool with drinking something with a taste akin to cough syrup (and I'm not talking about the good cough syrup like Robitussin, I'm talkin' like that horrible stuff you have to take to clear mucus out of your throat that burns all the way down.  Absolutely vile.) and also that a party immediately becomes 400 times classier if you bring bread and cheese.  Roquefort has never tasted so good.

After the girls generously offered to let the northern crowd crash at their house, I awoke with an unexplainable hankering for chicken tenders.  It was actually painful.  We talked to the gas station to pick up a pain au chocolat for breakfast, but it just didn't satisfy.  We started walking up the hill, looking for something else.... when we saw it.

How much are those chicken nuggets?  Six dollars, you say? 
Yup, I'm down with that.

I thought, when I came here, that surely Reunion was obscure enough to avoid the long-reaching tendrils of America's favorite fast food chain.  Nope.  Not at all.  And while Rachael and I gorged ourselves on our respective quarter pounder and McNuggets with fries on the side, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little grateful.

Saint Pierre was an awesome time, and the rest of the week in Saint Denis has been nothing short of lovely.  The beginning of the week passed without much incident, aside from our discovery of a cute little tea shop near Jardin de l'Etat, where they served somewhere close to 100 types of tea, coffee, and hot cocoa.  We spent our time drinking tasty tea, making plans for the year and swinging on the awesome swing-chair in the 'Indian Room' of the coffee shop.

In addition to swinging, I spent a lot of time getting sassed.  Just a typical day in the Reunionnais neighborhood.

Then, on Wednesday, Kayla and Jesse, American and Canadian assistants, hosted an early (for Americans)/late (for Canadians) Thanksgiving dinner for everyone!... with a twist. Since they couldn't find turkey, they cooked chicken.  They couldn't find cranberry sauce, so they stuck cranberries in the stuffing instead.  Their creativity was AWESOME, and the food was nothing short of incredible.  It was especially fun introducing Thanksgiving to the Brits, who have no such thing, and who spent all night asking questions about the food, the traditions, and the pilgrims.

The whole Thanksgiving gang :)

The drama leading into the weekend has been the Grand Raid!  For those of you that are following me closely enough, the Grand Raid is the race, also known as the "Diagonale des Fous" that that kid told me I should participate in a couple of weeks ago.  It took place this weekend, and it ended in Saint Denis, so as people ran up and down mountains for over 300 km and subsequently collapsed in exhaustion onto the ground at the finish line, people all over town crowded the finish line to half-congratulate, half gape-in-awe at the 5,000 "Crazies" that ran the race this year.  Obviously, we had to be among them:

People/paparazzi freaking out over the runners

The finish line! We were lazy, so we only saw the tail end of the runners, honestly :P

This weekend, we also took a short trip to Boucan Canot, which is one of Reunion's beaches that is INFAMOUS for shark attacks.  All day long, a man rode around on a jetski, looking for sharks while people swam in the water.  Lucy, Alice and I decided that putting our feet in was enough. :P

No need to tempt fate, guys!

We also indulged in some incredible gelato, which pretty much sealed the deal on our day.

Okay, now I have one little anecdote for you guys from this week, and it's a little scary.  This frequently happened in my France blogs, so I'm warning you now that the blog's about to take a rather serious turn.  So be prepared.  It's a scary story, but it has a happy ending.

I've always hated taking the bus home at night, alone, and last night wasn't really any exception.  It makes me jumpy, but I throw in my headphones and try to forget about it.  Last night, though, as I'm sitting on the bus, jamming out, a really, really incredibly creepy man hopped on the bus.  After he got on, he looked right at me, grinned and muttered "Mademoiselle," in the creepiest fashion imaginable.  After leaving me alone for about .5 seconds, he sidles over to me and starts saying things like "Are you gonna call me up tonight?" and "You're not in France anymore, sweetheart," and a bunch of other things that one generally doesn't want to hear when they're riding on the bus at nighttime.  Lemme be clear, though, it's not like I was on the bus at midnight.  It was 7:00.

So, as I'm pulling my pen out of my purse (the better to gauge out people's eyes with, my dear) and simultaneously berating myself for not taking a self defense class before I left, I start looking around the bus, giving people imploring looks.  The entire bus is full of kids.  And mothers of kids. And I know they're all listening, but what can they do?  My big, tough, muscle-y Reunionnais knight in shining armor is nowhere to be found, and this man keeps on yammering on and on about me calling him.  My mind's going a thousand miles a minute, and as I'm nearing my stop, I'm debating whether to get off or not.  I take my chance, jump out of the bus, ready to scream and run, and the doors slam shut behind me, leaving Creepy McCall-Me-Maybe on the bus.  I let out the biggest breath I've ever held.

The bus pulls up at the light and is still sitting there.  I'm leaning against the wall, heart poundingThen, one woman from inside the bus taps on the window gently, getting my attention.  I look up at her, and after a moment, she and her son both smiled at me.  It's weird, but I felt like I knew exactly what they were saying.  "Don't worry, we're not all like him.  We're sorry, and you're gonna be okay."  And I smiled back at themThe relief was instantaneousAll it took was one second, one look, and this woman and boy who I'd never met were comforting me.  As the bus pulled away, I felt like I'd experienced something very simple and profound about human nature.  I've never felt so much compassion conveyed in one look like that.  You know that really hokey quote about a how a smile can make someone's day?  Never again will I scoff.  So, although the whole experience was nothing short of terrifying... that final moment was absolutely unforgettable.  Really, really beautiful stuff.

At the same time, I may not take the bus at night for awhile.  (Read: ever again.)  I want to reiterate this, though.  This one, ridiculous instance doesn't make Reunion a terrible place.  Not at all.  I love it here.  The same thing could have happened in a metro in Paris.  Or a bus in Boston.  I'm not saying that it didn't suck, but I don't want people to think that this place is horribly "savage" or "out of control," because it's not.  It's just not.  Next time I write, I'm gonna make a list of common misconceptions about Reunion, because I swear if I get one more comment like "are you gonna get rabies?" or "do you have running water?" I'm going to explode.

ANYWAY, back to happy stuff.  My first *real* week of teaching is this week.  I'm jazzed beyond belief.  So ready to hop into a routine.  Until next time, guys :)

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Universal Appeal of the Cha-Cha Slide

Whoop, can't believe it's been an entire week since my last post.  This week's "vacation" mentality is certainly taking hold, even if we've been working even harder this week than in the previous two weeks I've been on this crazy island.  But I'm getting ahead of myself!  As promised, a lil recap of what happened this weekend in Cilaos!

On Saturday, we took the car jaune all the way through the gorgeous winding valleys of Cilaos. After taking five buses to get there, time tends to add up, especially if the buses are full (and it seems like they ALWAYS are), so our trip took about 7 hours total after one missed bus and an impromptu lunch in a "snack bar" on the side of the road in St. Louis.  And yes, if you were wondering, literally 400,000 towns start with 'Saint' here.  Okay, not literally.  But there are tons.

Actually, I have a little anecdote about that.  On Thursday (we're time-traveling for the moment, sorry) a few assistants had dinner with my friend Bruce's teacher, and she told us a story about a specific saint that exists on Reunion.  Apparently sometime in the 12th century, the Romans sent over a statue of a saint via expedite, but nobody on Reunion could figure out which saint it was.  So eventually, because nobody could figure out the name, they eventually named the statue "Saint Expedite."  So here, if you've pretty much hit rock bottom and have no options left, you pray to "Saint Expedite"... basically as a complete and last resort.  There's a legitimate statue of Saint Expedite somewhere on the island.  The rest of that night was pretty hilarious as well; we all drank a little too much wine and learned about the dangers of switching letters around in sentences.  All in all, an excellent time. :)

Back to Cilaos.  Shortly after arriving, I was feeling fairly confident and fit and such, so fellow American Eileen and I decided to tackle a 4 1/2 hour hike to La Chapelle ("The Chapel", en francais) a gorgeous cave with strips of various types of rock jutting out from the sides.  Such a beautiful sight!

So unfortunately I had to grab this off of Google; I was really smart and awesome and left my memory card in my laptop, so there is a lil glimpse of what we saw :)

In my opinion, though, one of the coolest parts of the hike was when we were searching for the trail.  We walked down the street and there were these two little boys who started singing to us in French a little melody that went something like, "You're looking for the Chapelle trail!" but in French and way cuter.  And when we said, "Yeah, we are!" They yelled "BON COURAGE!" at us all the way down the hill.  They wore little hats and were precious.  It was straight out of some cute little coming-of-age French movie where young hiker gals embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

Upon our return (just after nightfall - we could not have timed it any more perfectly) all 15 or so assistants that were staying in the gite with us (it's a cool communal mountain house) sat down to dinner and then had an impromptu campfire/singalong where we all sat around the fire and sang together.  It reminded me so much of camp, and it was fabulous.

That night I got a hardcore reminder of what it's like to sleep in a room with 20 other people (spoiler alert, it involves multiple bed changes, warthogs [yes, you read that right], and random expletives being yelled into the dark) and I don't think I've laughed so hard since I've been here.  An absolutely incredible weekend.

Now, this week has been unique.  Since Monday, I've been working at a high school in St. Andre, which is about 20 minutes from me by car but about 1 1/2 hours by bus.  Myself and a bunch of other assistants are helping with an English language "stage," where high schoolers come over their vacation - oh yeah, we're on "break" for the next two weeks... oh France - and learn English with us.  The commute is long, but there's plenty of stuff happening to keep me entertained.

I really love the people and the atmosphere here.  Although the commute is long, it's peppered with little bursts of interesting people and sights, and I find myself falling into something of a vision-routine as I take the buses each morning.  Some staples from my morning commute:

- First, there's the man who always jumps on the bus at my third stop, wearing a plain suit jacket with a pair of outrageously colored pants and carrying a leopard print cane, who makes sure that he hurriedly shakes the hand of every single person he knows on the bus before getting off at the next stop, about 30 seconds later.
- On my next bus, we pass a small house protected by a large grey wall, on which the proprietor has scribbled furiously in paint "stop peeing on my wall" with large white letters.
- At my final stop, I've come to expect the angry lady in the bonnet who spends the entire time at the bus stop talking to herself and yelling at passersby if they walk too close to her.  Seems to me that about 5 steps away is the closest anyone's been able to get, so I generally take a seat on a bench about 10 steps away to avoid any collateral damage.

I'm never not entertained in the morning.

This has always been my favorite part about living abroad.  I love the small things that you pick up on and notice throughout your daily routine that make a place feel like home.  There's a vivaciousness and almost a sass that the Reunionnais possess that I never saw in France.

The classroom this week has been no exception.  Though I expected to have 12 kids in my class, I ended up with four.  For the first couple of days, we did smaller group games and it was a pretty good time.  I definitely think things improved, though, when we teamed up with Krissie, another American gal who was teaching two rooms down.  Together, we helped our kids impersonate celebrities, learn the human body, figure out the difference between milkshakes and smoothies, and learned a ton ourselves, from the 'Maloya' dance to what Reunionnais fruits go best in jam.  Today, some of our kids surprised us with cari poulet and samoussas, two hardcore Reunionnais dishes, and one girl even brought us presents!  In return, we taught 'em the Cha-Cha slide and danced around outside yelling "Reverse, reverse!" after class was over.  I subsequently concluded that no one on earth is immune to the lure of the Cha-Cha slide.

It really surprised me how big the gap was between students' English.  There was one girl in particular who was incredibly strong, and others who were much, much weaker.  But at the same time, as the week went on, I watched all of the students, particularly my three original ones (one abandoned ship after Day 2) gain confidence and recall words that we'd gone over with relative ease.  It amazed me.  And if that was in the course of one week (albeit for three hours a day), my hopes are high for helping kids learn over the next 6 1/2 months.

The week's been incredible from an assistants' perspective, too!  After the "stage" each day, we've headed over to Susannah's place (a lovely British assistant) where we all simply laid by the pool and talked about our days.  I really really love the assistants here, (and they pick on me for saying it all the time - but I love them, I really do!)  and it's gonna be awesome to spend a year with everyone.

Next update: my upcoming weekend in Saint Pierre - hopefully with more sleep and less crazy than the weekend in Cilaos.  Bring on my first foray into the south of the island.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Enigmatic 'Gravity Week'

I've dubbed this week 'Gravity Week' because it's become increasingly clear to me that this week, things are falling.  Some things are falling into place, which is awesome.  Some things are falling out of style, as they say, and it's super inconvenient.  And some things... some things are literally falling on my head.  ... All will be explained shortly :P

Oh also, before I start, my sweet lizard friend has migrated to the kitchen.  Unfortunately, our colocation was short-lived.  I will miss him dearly.

Anyway, here we go.  On Monday I headed down to our orientation "stage," where all 58 foreign language assistants finally had the chance to meet!  Out of the 58 of us, here's the breakdown:

31 English Assts (17 Brits, 11 Americans, 2 Australians, and 1 Canadian)
12 Spanish (who I believe are all from Spain)
11 German (this has an interesting breakdown, there's at least one Lithuanian and a couple Austrians, but I'm not sure how many there are of each)
4 Chinese (... from China.)

It was pretty awesome to have met everyone, even though the day dragged on a bit; dealing with paperwork and such is rough when you have to listen to rapid French over a PA system that works about 50% of the time.  Ah well, c'est la vie.

The next day was the first day at my high school, the fantastic Lycee Bellepierre, where I will be spending all of my time as a teaching assistant.  I'm actually incredibly lucky to have only one school; most assistants, especially the non-English assistants, are spread out between 2-3 schools throughout the week, which is fine, except that I feel like you might get to know people a little bit less in-depth.  We shall see.

The first day was eye-opening.  Among other things, I learned that the word in French for paperclip is "trombone" (not sure how I didn't learn this during the 4 months that I was forced to hand in hordes of paperwork in metropolitan France, but eh), that you can ALWAYS find someone who wants to talk about America (met one of the teachers who spent 10 minutes educating me on the vivacity of Atlanta's gay community, I never knew!) and, most importantly: throughout the world, all high schoolers are the same.  They joke, they play, even the most mature ones have so much to learn.  They're inherently curious.  Even the ones who pretend not to care still looked up and stared when the crazy American walked into the classroom.

I had such an awesome day.  The students asked questions, and I asked them questions in return.  They're already messing with me.  One guy said that I should totally do the "Diagonal des Fous" (which translates loosely to "Diagonal for the Crazies") a hike where you head diagonally across the island as fast as you possibly can.  It's supposed to take about 5 days.  The record holder did it in 21 hours, or something like that.  He told me that everyone does it, and that I should totally give it a shot, as the girl behind him shook her head at me, wide-eyed.  Touche, little Reunionnais boy.  Maybe I will try it, just for you.

It was so much fun hearing them practice their English; it was much stronger than I thought it would be, and it's gonna be awesome to work on it with them.  Then, I got what was pretty much the best compliment in the universe; one of the kids asked if I spoke French and the teacher answered for me, she said, "Yes, and the other teachers told me she speaks French so well that they can't even hear an accent."  WINNER.  I'm not sure that I believe it (my landlady told me today that my French was 'comprehensible' ... not quite as high of praise, to say the least) but it was sweet nonetheless.

 Speaking of my landlady, I love my house.  Especially my two little babies, these guys:
Meet Dooky and Tequila (arguably the best two names for dogs I've ever heard) who are just the sweetest lil things, even though they bark at me when I get home because they've already forgotten who I am.

The house is fun, and clean, and school is way cool, yo.  I've gotten some of my paperwork taken care of!  In general, things are falling into place.

Now.  Let me just make this impeccably, perfectly clear.  I heard, once upon a time, that traveler's checks were a safe, effective way to transport money.  That they were not only a good way, but the BEST way, to ensure that you won't lose money.  So, it is with a heavy heart that I must inform you...

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, PLEASE DO NOT BRING TRAVELER'S CHECKS WITH YOU TO REUNION.  Go back, save yourself!!!  You will be so much happier that you saved yourself this headache.  Wanna know the list of people that won't accept traveler's checks?

- Store owners, because "just because." (Ah yes, it's all so much clearer now)
- Banks, because they've vaguely "had some problems with them."
- Your landlady, because the bank won't accept it. (This is legit)
- And my favorite, the exchange bureau because "the further away the traveler's checks come from, the higher the percentage we take from your check."  And then when you say, "and even if I pay the percentage?" and they say, "Nah, we don't take 'em." What?

Why doesn't anyone want my money?  It's money.  You like money.  You make your living off of money.  Completely incomprehensible.  My only consolation is that if my traveler's checks do somehow get stolen, at least I know that said thief has nowhere to spend them.  At least I spent the day being able to joke around with my landlady, who said that we had to laugh about it until we can't take it anymore and we just start sobbing.  After we left the exchange bureau, she looked at me and said, "Hey, wanna cry now?"  It was great having her there.  Anyway, traveler's checks = no longer cool.

Now, for my three literal encounters with gravity that have happened over the past 2 days.
1) Yesterday, a group of assistants went out to lunch!  I ordered a kebab, thinking that it would be, y'know, a kebab, a stick with meat on it.  Not so.  A kebab on Reunion looks a little more like this: 

Except 40 times larger 

and is full of delicious meat.  However, whilst chowing down on my kebab, I start to feel something raining down upon me from above!  But what could this be, the sun is shining, the grass is green!  I don't understand.

Turns out, someone living in the apartment downstairs decided to throw their leftover rice from lunch out of the window.  Evidently, rice showers here are pretty common.  I can honestly tell you that I quite prefer them with water.

2) Found a lizard (a different one) on my window last night.  He was so cute and little, but I had to shut the window, and I didn't want to squish him.  So I tried to guide him out the window with a piece of paper.  This backfired quickly, as he decided instead to attempt a sprawling leap towards my face.  I jumped back and couldn't find him.  For one horrifying second, I thought he'd fallen down my shirt.  But alas, there he was on the floor.  So I picked him up and put him on the roof.  Thanks again, gravity.

3) Today at school, I was waiting at the bus stop with a bunch of high schoolers.  A couple of the guys were playing around and chasing each other with water.  Oh yes, you already know what happened.  One guy threw the entire contents of his water bottle at his friend, and his friend moved just in the nick of time!  Unfortunately I wasn't so lucky.  Eh well, it was hot outside anyway.  And the amount of "OH NO, excuse-moi!"s I got from every single person involved more than made up for it.  Good job, Reunionnais.

Of course, none of these things even come close to the gravity situation of the week chez moi. I found out last night that my poor lil sis was bowled over at school by a high schooler and potentially has a broken nose.  Feel better lil Shura!  Don't blame the high schooler, blame gravity.

Alas, welcome to gravity week.  Hopefully it has reached its conclusion.  Nevertheless, I'm getting EVER SO PUMPED for my first hardcore hike this weekend - we're headed to Cilaos, one of Reunion's three cirques!  Should be a trip.