This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)
When we come to a new country, we are interested in nature and how people are. In what conventions they live and with which basic problems they deal. What a mental attitude they have and how far they show respect for nature. Therefore, as always, we are willing to take opportunities to meet up with native people. In this post I will tell you about our first meeting up with locals in La Reunion.
How to find locals in La Reunion
From August to December 2018 Anika and I are on La Reunion. Here we are working on an ecological farm. But life can be very lonely. Anika and I really wanted to meet some people from the island. But what is the best way to do this when you work on a farm in the middle of nowhere? It’s time to get creative.
With a few clicks, I was a member of two Facebook groups. I posted the question if anyone would like to go hiking with us or explore the island. It was not long after the first answers arrived.
So we met with Tata last Sunday, a 21 – year – old Frenchwoman of this island. We did not know anything besides that she would collect us on the way home from work with her car and that we will visit a waterfall together. All of us were at the designated meeting place on time. We found it brave of her to meet with two completely unknown people and take them with her. Because their outer shape is not exactly that of a kickboxer. Rather the contrary: She is very thin and small and does not pretend to be world champion in martial arts. From the beginning, we got along very well and talked a lot, until we arrived in their small home after 30 minutes and countless sharp turns.
Meeting Tatas Boyfriend
There, her boyfriend, who she is in a relationship with for 5 years as it turned out later, and her 1-year-old child were waiting for us. While her friend Dimitri prepared food for us, he started asking us a few questions. But it was a real challenge to participate in this conversation because he spoke a créole par excellence! Créole is a dialect of the French spoken here on this island. Although Anika and I hear the similarity to the French, we understand very little. Our first sentences were therefore very monotonous: “pardon, ma’ai j’ai pas compris ce que t’as dit.” At some point, however, he also decided to make a little effort to speak French with us. From there everything went smoothly, as far as the understanding goes. Let’s say half of us, because Anika is still in her practice phase with her French. But that’s good because if she can cheat with Dimii easily, she will have no problems with anyone else.
Dimii conjured us a meal, which we will not forget so quickly, because he cooks like a master chef. He cooked a corn rice mix with chou and pork. It was so hot that I could barely breathe when searing chili. After eating in peace, we set off to a place called Les Comorains. Maybe some of you have heard of it before, because there was once a commercial filmed.
What an adventurous hike with Tata and Dimitri
Les Comorains is a region that mainly includes a large waterfall and 2 naturally formed pools. One of them is below the waterfall. The nice thing is that paths go from one to the other, as well as across the area. Sometimes they are so barely recognizable because they are so small and overgrown. Partly we walked on small paths and looked down the slope right next to us. Steep slopes we piled up barefoot and through the tunnel, we blazed blindly our way.
In one situation our breath stopped for a moment! The dog of the small family escorted us on our trip and ran a few meters ahead to break down all the pent up energy. When Dimitri wanted to call him back, he did not come and everyone was wondering why the dog, who was so obedient, would not come back. We went a few steps further and heard only snapping louds. As if a human was drowning in the water and pervading the surface of the water for a few moments before being swallowed. It took a felt eternity before we could see where the sound came from. In front was a created small channel, which narrowed in a pipe. In this pipe, the dog got into, whereupon, due to the high flow, he could not come out alone. So we interpreted the sounds very well, only it was not a drowning man, but an animal. In no time, Dimitri threw all his clothes to the ground and jumped into the water, dipping into the pipe and pulling his soaking wet dog out of the pipe. What a piece of luck!
Overcoming another obstacle on our way
Then we continued our way to the lower part of the waterfall. For some strange reason, there was suddenly a locked gate, which forced us to get into the water of the canal and slip through it. Of course, the handling of the baby in the family is very loving and yet not over-protective, as we were used to from young mothers from Germany. The child was passed from arm to arm with no worries to overcome obstacles … and it was totally relaxed. Even on our arms, it did not start to cry. We arrived at the lower part of the waterfall, nature was fascinating, but there was a problem: masses of tourists, which greatly diminished our experience of nature. But Dimitri knew a way out. We gladly put up with physical exertion and craned a steep hill to get to the top of the waterfall. For this athletic performance with a baby in her arms was Tada not created.
But in no time Dimitri got up the hill with breakneck speed and holding the baby in only one arm. We were seriously positively surprised by him since his physique did not suggest such actions. Above it was beautiful and there were significantly fewer people there. We were there until just before sunset.
Afterwards, we returned to their house for a second meal. After a very nice conversation, we almost closed our eyes. Dimitri was so nice to drive us home and invited us to their family dinner for next Sunday as the baby’s birthday is approaching.