Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A year and a day!

So a year and a day ago we arrived on Reunion and what a year and a day its been!

People who know me well know that I have been talking about travelling and moving abroad for years, decades even.  So in August 2010 Aurelie and I decided that now that the kids were here that it was time to put up or shut up and that by August 2011 we would be gone. 

That gave us plenty of time to think about what we wanted to do.  Our two main options were move somewhere like Oz or Canada and start new lives there with 9-5 jobs etc (similar to our (very nice) lives in Dublin, just in a different place) or take some time out and go somewhere a bit different.  In the end Aurelie said to me if we were to go we might as well go on an adventure and take a year out somewhere different, 

And that is how after examining a host of countries (including Belize, Costa Rica, Thailand and the Philippines) we ended up selling or giving away most of our stuff and setting off with Sam and Ela from Lyon for Reunion with just our airplane luggage on the 9th September 2011!

In no particular order here are a (very) few of the things that stick out in my mind from our first year of island living:
  • Getting off the overnight flight with Aurelie and the kids and Aurelie heading to get the hire car.  Setting off on our adventure to the far side of the island in a fog of exhaustion and dislocation and Ela promptly getting car sick!
  • That same day, how genuinely friendly the two local guys in the shop were when I went to get a few essentials with my pidgin French.  This is something that has struck me time and again since that first day, how friendly people in Reunion are.  I think it must be the island mentality!
  • Lying on a deserted beach with A and the kids and realising that this was home now.
  • Making friends with the guys in the hostel and how well they took care of us.
  • Watching the kids blossom with the outdoor, barefoot living.  In Dublin we didn't have the garden space, let alone the weather to just kick the kids outside and let them off.  Here the door is open all of the day and while playing in their room or watching somthing on the computer is always popular so are water fights, or playing in the hammock, or on the swings, or rugby etc.    
  • Getting smashed by the giant waves at the beach in Vincendo.
  • Ela getting swept from my arms by the same giant waves!
  • Dealing with island time, even the French comming from the mainland get driven mad by how long it takes to get things done - you have just got to go with it, its not going to get any quicker!
  • The local market.
  • Fruit from our garden.
  • Getting rid of most of our stuff and really realising how little we really need to be happy.
  • Aurelie telling me how happy she was with the move, this was always my dream for the most part.  To have her being so happy with how it worked out makes it so much more worthwhile!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Simandou Moths (and a beetle)!

One of the things that suprised me about Simandou is the huge variety of moths, varying greatly in pattern and in size from itty bitty tiny ones to some bigger than your hand!  Right now there aren't so many about in the rainy season but earlier on in the year they were everywhere.

Drilling here continues through the nights so when we go up to visit the rigs there are huge numbers of them to be seen attracted to the lights of the drilling rigs.

Of course moths aren't the only small beasties about (they are just the easiest to photograph, we had ants stealing bits of pringles that had fallen on the ground outside the bar a few evenings ago) and noise they make, especially in the evenings, is spectacular as is the sound of all the birds that feed on them!

One of the sad things here, for me anyway, is the lack of big wild animals.  They were here in the past there but they have been hunted out (one of the passes over the mountain is called elephant pass and one of the geologists here found an elephant's tooth not so long ago).  Of course compares to many other places there is still a fair bit of wildlife, dik-diks (tiny deer), monkeys of various types and chimps in the protected forest as well as lots of snakes and lizards!  One of the good things about the operations here that I've mentioned before is the amount of effort being put in to protect the environment from both the operations setting up and running the mine as well as from the local population through education  (bush meat is a big problem here.

On the dinner table!  I wonder what it's fuzzy rear is for?

Love the patterns on the big one.

By the door to my room, the corridor to my room is open to the air so we often have large numbers of moths attracted by the lights.
This photo was taken by my another geologist at night at one of the rigs.
And the promised beetle, for variety!