Sunday, October 30, 2011

Busy Days and Changes

Tomorrow is a big day in the Bradley-Trombetta household.  We have two big events (three if you count Samhain/Halloween, a big favorite in our house).  It's Sam's first day at school and we're getting the keys to our new rental house.

Sam is starting the second year of "maternalle".  School here is done by year of birth and since it starts at 3 years and Sam is 4 he goes into the second year.  He's really looking forward to it and it seems that he's at the right level to start in the class so thats all good.  Aurelie assures me that his French is up to the rigors of classroom life which is good but of course all the other children will speak créole as well so that's another language for him to pick up.  He's been picking some up already here from the guys working in the hostel and it's pretty astounding how well they can learn languages (me, I'm concentrating on French, créole can wait!)

The school is 1.4 km (down a steepish hill all the way) from our new home, or what will become our new home between tomorrow and Thursday (we get the keys tomorrow and have booked our place here until Thursday to give us a few days to set up in the new place).

Our new place is a créole house, four bedrooms, a big living room with a terrace, WC, bathroom and a kitchen, all very nice. What sold me on the place though was the garden.  While it's not huge, it's big enough, the lower garden is dense trees (shade being important in the summer here), litchi, banana, custard apple and maybe more while th upper garden (where the living room and terrace open out to) is more open with grass and a number of coconut trees as well as other plants, hopefully we'll be doing a lot of our living out here instead of inside!

One difference to renting here from Ireland is that like in France houses are generally unfurnished. All that will be in the house will be the kitchen presses and hob so we have been busy picking up stuff for the house. Fortunately there is an active second hand scene here as a lot of folk come out here from France for a year or two and then return, also the local hypermarket has been celebrating it's birthday for the last couple of weeks so there has been lots of promotions there too.

So far, second hand, we have:
Bunk beds for the kids
A double bed for us
A rocking chair
A washing machine
A fridge

And new:
A vacuum cleaner
A microwave
Plates and bowels
A rice cooker/steamer (for the grand total of €9.50 on sale)
A stone coated (magic) frying pan - this thing is unbelievably good, go look it up online right now!
A spatula

We also brought over some bed linen, kitchen knives and a hammock.

Other than that we are planning on getting a table and chairs, a couple of presses/wardrobes for clothes, a dust pan and brush, some cups, some pots, bed sheets, big cushions or bean bags and a low table for the living room.  And that's about it, it's going to be a fairly minimalist household (I hope, though Aurelie isn't fully convinced yet) though I know that there is a lot of other bit's and pieces we'll need to get to keep the house going but I'm hoping to keep that to a minimum so that we can concentrate on the important things in life rather than just on things.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Some photos from the last few weeks

The sudden realisation that getting down from there may be more difficult than getting up there!

Going for it!

Jungle exploration

Panorama of our local beach 

Sunset at the beach

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Créole Rap

Laurence, one of the guys working here, is in a band and he us invited to a gig on Wednesday night. The gig was up in La Port, about an hour from here so we sorted a babysitter for the kids for the first time
here (the sister of Fabien, the guy who runs Residence Créolile). There were four bands playing on the
night and one of them would be selected to play in a festival In Metropolitan France. Apparently lots of the big names  in Réunion's music scene were there (though it must be said that Réunion's music scene seems  small!).

The night was good craic. We were introduced to a load of the people there (I didn't understand a whole lot as a lot of it was in créole rather than French) but everyone seemed really nice. According to Aurelie I seemed to be a bit of a novelty being all the way from exotic Ireland.

Alex (the name of Laurence's band and of it's lead singer) were on second so while the first band was
playing the band, Aurelie and I nipped out to a local bar for some shots of rum, necessary to warm up
the vocal chords according to Alex! Then we headed back to the gig to catch the end of the first band
while the guys got ready.

The band played créole rap, which honestly was good (this from a person who normally doesn't like rap). I think not understanding the lyrics helped as I just listened to the music and obvious passion without having to
worry about what was being said! For the record Aurelie had no idea what most of it was about either.

We found out yesterday that Alex were chosen to go to the festival in France so Laurence was a happy camper!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Aurelie's post on her day at the windy beach.

Well to be exact it's often windy and we've been loads to the beach, but what happen yesterday will hopefully make you smile ( it certainly made Stephen laugh).

So here we are heading to the local beach this afternoon. As we get use to it we get better organised (by "we" I mean Stephen), and today was a "mostly everything" time. (and there is a lot to think of: swim suits, towel, toys, snacks and drinks, sun cream...)

We actually forgot the children hats (no mine, that would be hard to miss) but it was not too bad as we had just invested in a parasol!

I'll pass the joy of settling on a chosen spot. Of course I like the beach and the sea, but there are the little things that I'm not so fond of, like the sand everywhere (in everything), getting changed (either I do it before going, and then you can sure be I forget some of my clothes, or it's the let flash everyone on the beach cos I haven't figured out how to tie my top with a t-shirt on), or just that I and all the stuff has to be rinsed once home. With the kids, just multiple sand everywhere by 10 and had screams at the rinsing phase.

I got much better to the getting changed in public thought. I don't like topless, but I don't care so much about some boobies showing for a minute. I've also improved a lot in the skirt/surong/pareo method for the bottom so I'm now ok with getting changed on the beach.

I always do the kids first so Samuel can run off in the water with his dad, and Ela can start putting sand everywhere. So I had been sitting for a while under the parasol, looking at the most gigantic waves so far, when Ela decided she was ready for a dip, which meant time for me to get changed (no point getting undress if I'm not going in the water).

So after the top, I did my pareo skirt, take off my underwear, and at this precise moment the parasol flew away. Of course it had to be at that moment!

The parasol started rolling away from me. A few nano second of hesitation (putting my swimsuit would take too long and I didn't want the parasol to got too far as it could injure someone) and I started running after it. Funny the way it stopped so I could catch up and them flew a bit further as I was going to grab it. I could use only one hand since the other was holding the sarong (the skirt was not made to last that much) and I was hoping it was still covering most of what I wanted to hide.

I had the feeling that people around were looking at me and probably finding the whole scene quite entertaining.

Finally got hold of the parasol with my free hand (it did not go that far, it just felt that way), and turn to Stephen who was still in the water and certainly found the whole thing very amusing. Because of the young public around me (including my own kids) I could not express my feeling as strongly as I wished to conclude this moment of shame.

Note to self: parasol should stay closed until I am ready.

By the way I did not stay long in the water as a big wave took us and Ela got underwater while I was struggling to stay up while holding her and Samuel. Then Ela and I stayed safely out.

Finally in the water, but not for long.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Our local beach

180 degree panoramic view of our local beach (Grand Anse) 
One of the big benefits of not working while we are here is that we don't have to fit everything into weekends or around work schedules which means that we can avoid the busy times (as you can see from the photo!)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Aurelie's take on our first three weeks

So were are we? well I think we are not doing too bad. For me some things feel like home, I'm happy to find stuff I could not get in Ireland (like proper breakfast chocolate cereals, for adult not children, ah the chocolate Clusters) and there are damn good road signs. I love to go to the supermarket and finding stuff I used to have when I was young...

There is also the culinary novelty (that we have not tried to do it yet) but the mix of french, indian, chinese and african cooking give some very interesting result. Ask Stephen for the famous sandwich "americain bouchon gratiné" which is an open baguette, with steam dumplings (ravioli chinois), fries, a dressing to choose (ketchup, mayo, spicy sauce), the whole thing topped by cheese and grilled. You can also get it without the fries...

We did the market today and there Stephen kept asking what were the different fruit and veg. The pb is I can barely tell the difference between a courgette and a cucumber, so I'm really the wrong person to ask. But there is plenty of them (what ever they are). At the end of the market, after the food and some clothes and souvenir stalls were also live poultry and bunnies which I found a little disturbing. I was very tempted to buy the bunnies just to free them (sorry chicken, you're just not that cute).

There are some french things that I was not so happy to get back into, like the administrative paper work, the fact that you need a ID card and address to get a sim card, that I need my parents to be our "guaranty" for the renting contract of the house, and I have not started with the school or the health service yet. But it's fine cos we are not working and we have plenty of time to go through it.

The place is beautiful. I don't think I will get bored of the palm trees, sugar cane fields, banana trees, the beach sunset, the ravines, the mountains in the clouds. And we have not done the full tour yet! Also there is a great peace of mind for me it that it's safe, no deadly beasty is going to attack my kids; and like in France, there are pharmacies at every corner for the scratches and bruises.

So yes some stuff is quite expensive, but not much more than Ireland, and a lot of local things are quite cheap if you buy them at the right place.

I have learnt at least a new skill: how to peel a pineapple. Yes these is a specific technique! Of course it took me about 30 min to get it ready, but I'll practice.

So yes, so far so good! Now we are (hopefully) getting a 4 bedrooms house with a big garden full of fruit trees, so we will have plenty of room for guests. You know what to do.

Market Heaven

Yesterday we finally got to the weekly local market and what a market it was.  It was huge, with a big variety of stalls.  Lots of fruit and vegetables at low low prices, meats, snacks, clothes (Ela got a dress), curios, bags, knick-knacks etc. etc.  Plus it had live chickens, geese, rabbits (Aurelie had to be persuaded not to buy all the cute fluffy rabbits so that she could free them, for some reason she didn't feel the same way about the birds!).

Having been there once it looks like the market will be a weekly event for us from now on.

Unexpected benefits of hostel living

For the last three weeks since we got here we've been staying at a little hostel called Résidence Creolile ( and it's been great.    Jean-Fabien the young guy who owns it only opened it recently so there is still stuff being done to it in outside but the hostel is small (just three studios and three dorms), bright, cheerful and friendly.  Plus the guys here are really friendly, helpful and great to be around.

Résidence Creolile
Laurence teaching Ela the drums 
We have the largest studio here.  It's two rooms a private living/kitchen/dining room and a bedroom with a double and two singles.  So we are all sleeping in the same room which while it may not be the most romantic of setups does have unexpected benefits.  As the bedroom is closest to the corridor Aurelie and I pass through it a lot when the kids are asleep (luckily they are both heavy sleepers) when we are going back and forth so we get to see them sleeping la lot and do you know what, sleeping kids are the funniest/cutest things in the world!  And as any parent of young kids can tell you it's really quite nice just to watch then while they sleep.  Back home we'd put the kids down to bed and leave them to sleep but because of the move and our current set up we find ourselves just stopping to look at them sleeping as we are passing by, something we could have done any evening back in Dublin but just never really did as much.

We had the place generally to ourselves for the first two weeks but things have gotten a bit busier this week as there is an international bodyboarding competition happening here at the moment and a lot of the guys involved with the media side of it are staying here.  So the place is full of surfer guys (and they are all guys bar the masseuse), one of them even called me "dude".  They are nice guys though we only see them in the evening as they are off covering the event from before dawn each morning.

It looks like we'll be here for a few more weeks (no complaints) as the house we have decided on (finally) probably won't be available until the start of November.  It's a creóle house with lots of fruit trees (litchi, coconut, banana, custard-apple and possibly more) to provide shade and fruit (hopefully).  We should be signing the rental documents on Tuesday so it'll be good to have that sorted all going well (you never know with French paperwork!).