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Exposé en anglais. Le thème est memories and territories.

reunion

I have ever been to many countries but, among territories I have visited, the one I prefer is not a foreign land. It is a faraway French department. Its name is Réunion Island. Let me tell you how it is and why I am so fond of it.

Réunion Island is a volcanic rock lost in Indian Ocean, a former French colony that became an overseas department in 1946. It seems so far out in the ocean that no human lived on it when a few French mutineers and the enslaved women from Madagascar who accompanied them settled there in the 1600s. And, among the first settlers, there was one whose name is mine. Réunion Island, called first Bourbon Island (maybe because of the French royal dynasty), received the famous Charles Baudelaire who absorbed some of its colors and smells for his poems. In the nineteenth century, Tamils from India first, and some Chinese later arrived in Réunion Island. Its spicy cuisine which is varied and delicious reflects this unusual history. Slavery was abolished for the first time in 1792 and reinstated by Napoleon before disappearing in 1848. Today Réunion Island is well named because people of all colors and religions live together in peace.

As far as geography is concerned, Réunion has a circumference of 250 kilometers, but in the center much of which has been designated a Unesco World Heritage site, there is the peak of the Piton des Neiges rising above the clouds to a height of 3000 meters. It is the dormant volcano that birthed the island. As it stops clouds, there are tiny microclimates on its slopes. To sum up: the eastern “wet” side and the western “dry” one. You might have ever heard of the Piton de la Fournaise that is one of the most active volcanoes on the planet. In July 2017, my parents and I saw a fantastic show in the middle of the night, under a full moon and a red sky. It was so cold that we had socks on our hands. We could hear a scaring rumble. We were walking across a space made of sand and Mars-red volcanic rocks when suddenly we saw the amazing and unforgettable eruption of lava we were looking for. Lots of people were sitting on rocks and taking photos. No doubt those who call Réunion “the Extreme Island” are right.

My grandparents live there, not far from the Piton de la Fournaise. When my brother and I were younger, we used to build sheds in the riverbed behind the house. We usually started a small fire on a big rock surrounded by water and then we grilled chamallows as if we were Robinsons.

Of course, when you hear of tropical island, you cannot help imagining paradise beaches. If it is true, the trouble is authorities banned swimming and surfing in 2013 despite the perfect waves. What on hell is going on? Since 2011, nearly 30 people have been attacked by bull sharks and at least 10 have been killed. Since staying out of the water was ordered, surfers have been conflicting with ecologists. The ones want to eliminate the bull specie whereas the others denounce sharks massive fishing.

As a conclusion, some of my memories are strongly linked to this fantastic territory because Réunion Island, “The Extreme Island”, also called “The sharks Island”, is a part of my story. Noting that its airport login is R-U-N, let me make you a suggestion: do not hesitate anymore and run to R-U-N (Réunion Island).

Références :

Why Hiking Beats Surfing on Réunion Island (Hint: Sharks!) – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

Réunion, Once a Surfer’s Paradise, Finds Only Sharks in Its Waters – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

 

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