Saturday, December 31, 2011

First photo of 2012

Lazer eyed spider of DOOM! It's a babouk (huntsman spider) we used to see a lot of these when we were staying in the hostel but we see them rarely here in the house.  That's the big bamboo leg of the couch next to it for scale.

My intention is to post a picture every day in 2012 ('cos no one has ever done something like that before, right?) - we'll see how long my resolution lasts!  I'd like to try to get across the little differences that make living here so different (it's not just the climate), plus it looks like I'll be working in Guinea in West Africa for a part of 2012 and that should be interesting to share!

All the very best for 2012!

Here's wishing everyone a peaceful and happy New Year from our island hideout.  May 2012 be good to you all.

Stephen, Aurelie, Sam and Ela

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Watering the garden just in time for the rain

It's been so dry here that a couple of days ago I decided to water the fruit trees in the garden (not for the first time).  Unfortunately we haven't gotten about to getting a garden hose yet so it involved me spending an hour or so lugging buckets of water about the place in 30+ degree heat.  Of course a couple of hours later after dusk the heavens opened and we had torrential rain with spectacular thunder and lightning over the centre of the island (the main road on the Island was closed for a while due to the rain)!

This has reminded me that although it's been very dry and warm since we got here Réunion holds all kinds of rainfall records.  It holds the record for the most rainfall ever recorded in a 12 hour period, in a 24 hour period, in a 72 hour period, in a 96 hour period and in a 10 day period.  This place can be WET.

Fortunately the rainfall is concentrated on the other side of the island (we are in the rain shadow of the volcano) but you can see the effects of such huge amounts of rainfall around the place.  Lots low points on roads have barriers that can be placed across them to close them when they get inundated during storm flooding.  On the main road huge bridges span giant dry river valleys.  Dry open drains at the side of a lot of roads up can be over a meter deep.  All pointing to lots and lots of flowing water.  

Oh and all the windows and doors of houses have shutters to protect during tropical storms!  Apparently this year promises to produce a bumper crop of storms due to predicted high sea temperatures, we'll see if any come this way, there may be exciting times ahead! 


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Three months here

The day before yesterday was the three month anniversary of our arrival here in Réunion and oh my, what a three months we've had.  From being in super holiday mode staying in the hostel to settleing in our new home and having to deal with the relaxed Réunion way of doing things (we called to a government office on friday to sort some stuff only to find out that they close at 11.30am on fridays, admittidly they opened at 7.30am, but still!) it's all been good.

We're all very happy with the move so far, we've been lucky enough to make some friends here and now that we seem to have won the war against the fleas in the garden (see Aurélie's previous post) we're really enjoying the new house. Of course now there are the termitesin the house to deal with, but nevermind - there are a lot more beasties about here.  And of course there is the weather, we should be into the wetter part of the year by now (when it's supposed to be hot with some rain most days) but the rain hasn't started yet so for now it's still glorious :).

Some of our new friends, Jean-Fabien and Laurence, with Sam n' Ela

Our new home!
One big event over the last month was Sam's first day at school, which he is loving, long may that last.  Dropping Sam off to school in the morning is one of those times that reinforces the differences in culture.  The vibe at the school seems different to that of an Irish school (mind you it's been a long time since I had any experience of an Irish primary school).  For one thing the schools is very open plan, no corridors, just classrooms opening out to the outside (the benefit of living in a warm country), for another the principal stands at the school gate and greets and shakes the hand of all the parents who go into the school to drop off their kids which seems very formal though he is very relaxed about it.  A lot of the parents sit about in the sun outside the classrooms for a little while after dropping off their kids giving each other the french cheak kiss hello and chatting, of course I've no idea what they are saying most of the time since they are all speaking creol rather than french!