Monthly Archives: January 2017

131 - Tourist for a Day - Vocabulary

At one point during the school holidays, the wife and I decided that we were going to be tourists for the day. We booked a guided tour of St Denis, we also booked my mother-in-law so that she could look after the kids. Bright and early on a Tuesday morning, off we went!

The guided tour was of the main street in St Denis, Rue de Paris. If you're not familiar with St Denis, it's the road leading from the coast, all the way to the national park in the centre of St Denis.

Let me tell you that there is there a lot to see there. The tour started off at the town hall in St Denis, which is an outstanding building. High ceilings, twisting traditional staircases created using rare, local wood. Upstairs is a lavish meeting room; in which you could fit hundreds of people. The courtyard surrounds an ancient fountain, and there are dozens of paintings of the man himself, Denis de Paris (who only seemed to appear in his 'headless' state - surely he is known for the things he did before his head and his body parted ways...).

Out of the town hall we carried on up the street. We visited several town houses that each had interesting stories, famous inhabitants or both! Take for example the story of the rich man with four young daughters. One day the father discovered that his youngest was pregnant with the grounds man’s child! Well, the father did what any other father would do: he forced the four girls to wear white and to remain virgins for the rest of their lives, thus saving the family name! Quite a different world it was back then...

Aside from the historical gossip, the beautiful houses and their grounds, the guide also showed us a «Palme à citron» It's true! We also discovered various trees, plants and leaves that grow in the gardens, houses tiled with tamarind, the features of the famous Reunionese porches whose design is important to keeping social traditions. You'll have to take the visit to see what I mean exactly, but it's all about showing where a guest stands on the social ladder compared to the host. A guest would be invited for a drink on the porch (which is one step up from the garden), and if that goes well the next time they would be invited inside the house (which is one step up from the porch).

All in all, an excellent morning. I did regret not wearing my sports shoes though!

 

Vocabulary

 

to book – réserver

bright and early – très tôt

town hall – mairie

outstanding – exceptionnel

ceiling – plafond

 

twisting – sinueux

staircase – escalier

lavish – luxueux

courtyard – cour

to surround - entourer

 

headless – sans tête

to carry on – continuer

pregnant - enceinte

grounds man – jardinier

aside from – à part

 

gossip – commérages

porch - varangue

to stand – situer

social ladder – l'échelle sociale

step - étape

00:0000:00

131 - Tourist for a Day - Slow

At one point during the school holidays, the wife and I decided that we were going to be tourists for the day. We booked a guided tour of St Denis, we also booked my mother-in-law so that she could look after the kids. Bright and early on a Tuesday morning, off we went!

The guided tour was of the main street in St Denis, Rue de Paris. If you're not familiar with St Denis, it's the road leading from the coast, all the way to the national park in the centre of St Denis.

Let me tell you that there is there a lot to see there. The tour started off at the town hall in St Denis, which is an outstanding building. High ceilings, twisting traditional staircases created using rare, local wood. Upstairs is a lavish meeting room; in which you could fit hundreds of people. The courtyard surrounds an ancient fountain, and there are dozens of paintings of the man himself, Denis de Paris (who only seemed to appear in his 'headless' state - surely he is known for the things he did before his head and his body parted ways...).

Out of the town hall we carried on up the street. We visited several town houses that each had interesting stories, famous inhabitants or both! Take for example the story of the rich man with four young daughters. One day the father discovered that his youngest was pregnant with the grounds man’s child! Well, the father did what any other father would do: he forced the four girls to wear white and to remain virgins for the rest of their lives, thus saving the family name! Quite a different world it was back then...

Aside from the historical gossip, the beautiful houses and their grounds, the guide also showed us a «Palme à citron» It's true! We also discovered various trees, plants and leaves that grow in the gardens, houses tiled with tamarind, the features of the famous Reunionese porches whose design is important to keeping social traditions. You'll have to take the visit to see what I mean exactly, but it's all about showing where a guest stands on the social ladder compared to the host. A guest would be invited for a drink on the porch (which is one step up from the garden), and if that goes well the next time they would be invited inside the house (which is one step up from the porch).

All in all, an excellent morning. I did regret not wearing my sports shoes though!

 

Vocabulary

 

to book – réserver

bright and early – très tôt

town hall – mairie

outstanding – exceptionnel

ceiling – plafond

 

twisting – sinueux

staircase – escalier

lavish – luxueux

courtyard – cour

to surround - entourer

 

headless – sans tête

to carry on – continuer

pregnant - enceinte

grounds man – jardinier

aside from – à part

 

gossip – commérages

porch - varangue

to stand – situer

social ladder – l'échelle sociale

step - étape

00:0000:00

131 - Tourist for a Day

At one point during the school holidays, the wife and I decided that we were going to be tourists for the day. We booked a guided tour of St Denis, we also booked my mother-in-law so that she could look after the kids. Bright and early on a Tuesday morning, off we went!

The guided tour was of the main street in St Denis, Rue de Paris. If you're not familiar with St Denis, it's the road leading from the coast, all the way to the national park in the centre of St Denis.

Let me tell you that there is there a lot to see there. The tour started off at the town hall in St Denis, which is an outstanding building. High ceilings, twisting traditional staircases created using rare, local wood. Upstairs is a lavish meeting room; in which you could fit hundreds of people. The courtyard surrounds an ancient fountain, and there are dozens of paintings of the man himself, Denis de Paris (who only seemed to appear in his 'headless' state - surely he is known for the things he did before his head and his body parted ways...).

Out of the town hall we carried on up the street. We visited several town houses that each had interesting stories, famous inhabitants or both! Take for example the story of the rich man with four young daughters. One day the father discovered that his youngest was pregnant with the grounds man’s child! Well, the father did what any other father would do: he forced the four girls to wear white and to remain virgins for the rest of their lives, thus saving the family name! Quite a different world it was back then...

Aside from the historical gossip, the beautiful houses and their grounds, the guide also showed us a «Palme à citron» It's true! We also discovered various trees, plants and leaves that grow in the gardens, houses tiled with tamarind, the features of the famous Reunionese porches whose design is important to keeping social traditions. You'll have to take the visit to see what I mean exactly, but it's all about showing where a guest stands on the social ladder compared to the host. A guest would be invited for a drink on the porch (which is one step up from the garden), and if that goes well the next time they would be invited inside the house (which is one step up from the porch).

All in all, an excellent morning. I did regret not wearing my sports shoes though!

 

Vocabulary

 

to book – réserver

bright and early – très tôt

town hall – mairie

outstanding – exceptionnel

ceiling – plafond

 

twisting – sinueux

staircase – escalier

lavish – luxueux

courtyard – cour

to surround - entourer

 

headless – sans tête

to carry on – continuer

pregnant - enceinte

grounds man – jardinier

aside from – à part

 

gossip – commérages

porch - varangue

to stand – situer

social ladder – l'échelle sociale

step - étape

00:0000:00

130 - The Pirate Graveyard - Vocabulary

I am a complete sissy. A wimp, a wuss, a scaredy-cat. If I watch the trailer of a horror film (or let’s be honest, a thriller), I cannot sleep properly for several nights. I still haven’t grown out of my childhood fear of clowns. And I have a low tolerance for anything remotely spooky. However, my son is obsessed with pirates and each time we would drive past the marine graveyard in St Paul, he’d be fixated on the Jolly Roger at the entrance. He begged me for months to take him to what he called the ‘pirate graveyard’.

One day a few months ago, I finally said yes. I was sceptical about how interesting a cemetery could be for a four-year old. But surprisingly, we both ended up really enjoying our little outing. For starters, it is a beautiful cemetery. On a sunny day, the contrast between the sparkling blue water of the St Paul Bay, the black sandy beach, the cliffs and the lush green plants all around is breath-taking.

The cemetery is also well organised, with signs pointing out the most famous or significant graves. Most of all, I appreciated the historical explanations, placed throughout the graveyard on black metal scrolls. The marine graveyard is the final resting place for not only pirates, but writers and political figures in Reunion’s history. I could finally understand why so many street signs or schools were called Eugène Dayot or Leconte de Lisle. There were even extracts from their poems hung up around the place. Being a history geek, it was fascinating to read about certain people’s impact on modern Reunionese society.

Well-known families such as Desbassyns and Panon were there, but so were many lesser-known doctors, naturalists and entrepreneurs. The most famous grave, and the one that brings in so many tourists, is La Buse. What’s unusual about this cemetery is that the graves of laypeople, famous land-owners, sailors and priests are all placed together with no separations or hierarchy. When the cemetery was established in 1788, some members of the public called for a racially segregated graveyard.

But the decision makers decided against it, saying that it was ‘revolting’ to separate the races since the corpses of black and white men were equal. What a progressive decision, especially when it would take another 60 years for slavery to be abolished in Reunion. All in all, the marine graveyard is worth a visit if you like history or pirates or both. And don’t worry, it’s not that spooky.

 

Vocabulary

 

sissy / wimp / wuss / scaredy-cat - poule mouillé

trailer - bande annonce

spooky - sinistre

Jolly Roger - drapeau de pirate

to beg - supplier

 

graveyard - cimetière

breath-taking - à couper le souffle

scroll - manuscrit

sign - panneau

hung up - accroché

 

lesser-known - moins connu

unusual - inhabituel

laypeople - profane

sailors - marins

corpses - cadavres

 

equal - égale

slavery - esclavage

both - les deux

00:0000:00

130 - The Pirate Graveyard - Slow

I am a complete sissy. A wimp, a wuss, a scaredy-cat. If I watch the trailer of a horror film (or let’s be honest, a thriller), I cannot sleep properly for several nights. I still haven’t grown out of my childhood fear of clowns. And I have a low tolerance for anything remotely spooky. However, my son is obsessed with pirates and each time we would drive past the marine graveyard in St Paul, he’d be fixated on the Jolly Roger at the entrance. He begged me for months to take him to what he called the ‘pirate graveyard’.

One day a few months ago, I finally said yes. I was sceptical about how interesting a cemetery could be for a four-year old. But surprisingly, we both ended up really enjoying our little outing. For starters, it is a beautiful cemetery. On a sunny day, the contrast between the sparkling blue water of the St Paul Bay, the black sandy beach, the cliffs and the lush green plants all around is breath-taking.

The cemetery is also well organised, with signs pointing out the most famous or significant graves. Most of all, I appreciated the historical explanations, placed throughout the graveyard on black metal scrolls. The marine graveyard is the final resting place for not only pirates, but writers and political figures in Reunion’s history. I could finally understand why so many street signs or schools were called Eugène Dayot or Leconte de Lisle. There were even extracts from their poems hung up around the place. Being a history geek, it was fascinating to read about certain people’s impact on modern Reunionese society.

Well-known families such as Desbassyns and Panon were there, but so were many lesser-known doctors, naturalists and entrepreneurs. The most famous grave, and the one that brings in so many tourists, is La Buse. What’s unusual about this cemetery is that the graves of laypeople, famous land-owners, sailors and priests are all placed together with no separations or hierarchy. When the cemetery was established in 1788, some members of the public called for a racially segregated graveyard.

But the decision makers decided against it, saying that it was ‘revolting’ to separate the races since the corpses of black and white men were equal. What a progressive decision, especially when it would take another 60 years for slavery to be abolished in Reunion. All in all, the marine graveyard is worth a visit if you like history or pirates or both. And don’t worry, it’s not that spooky.

 

Vocabulary

 

sissy / wimp / wuss / scaredy-cat - poule mouillé

trailer - bande annonce

spooky - sinistre

Jolly Roger - drapeau de pirate

to beg - supplier

 

graveyard - cimetière

breath-taking - à couper le souffle

scroll - manuscrit

sign - panneau

hung up - accroché

 

lesser-known - moins connu

unusual - inhabituel

laypeople - profane

sailors - marins

corpses - cadavres

 

equal - égale

slavery - esclavage

both - les deux

00:0000:00

130 - The Pirate Graveyard

I am a complete sissy. A wimp, a wuss, a scaredy-cat. If I watch the trailer of a horror film (or let’s be honest, a thriller), I cannot sleep properly for several nights. I still haven’t grown out of my childhood fear of clowns. And I have a low tolerance for anything remotely spooky. However, my son is obsessed with pirates and each time we would drive past the marine graveyard in St Paul, he’d be fixated on the Jolly Roger at the entrance. He begged me for months to take him to what he called the ‘pirate graveyard’.

One day a few months ago, I finally said yes. I was sceptical about how interesting a cemetery could be for a four-year old. But surprisingly, we both ended up really enjoying our little outing. For starters, it is a beautiful cemetery. On a sunny day, the contrast between the sparkling blue water of the St Paul Bay, the black sandy beach, the cliffs and the lush green plants all around is breath-taking.

The cemetery is also well organised, with signs pointing out the most famous or significant graves. Most of all, I appreciated the historical explanations, placed throughout the graveyard on black metal scrolls. The marine graveyard is the final resting place for not only pirates, but writers and political figures in Reunion’s history. I could finally understand why so many street signs or schools were called Eugène Dayot or Leconte de Lisle. There were even extracts from their poems hung up around the place. Being a history geek, it was fascinating to read about certain people’s impact on modern Reunionese society.

Well-known families such as Desbassyns and Panon were there, but so were many lesser-known doctors, naturalists and entrepreneurs. The most famous grave, and the one that brings in so many tourists, is La Buse. What’s unusual about this cemetery is that the graves of laypeople, famous land-owners, sailors and priests are all placed together with no separations or hierarchy. When the cemetery was established in 1788, some members of the public called for a racially segregated graveyard.

But the decision makers decided against it, saying that it was ‘revolting’ to separate the races since the corpses of black and white men were equal. What a progressive decision, especially when it would take another 60 years for slavery to be abolished in Reunion. All in all, the marine graveyard is worth a visit if you like history or pirates or both. And don’t worry, it’s not that spooky.

 

Vocabulary

 

sissy / wimp / wuss / scaredy-cat - poule mouillé

trailer - bande annonce

spooky - sinistre

Jolly Roger - drapeau de pirate

to beg - supplier

 

graveyard - cimetière

breath-taking - à couper le souffle

scroll - manuscrit

sign - panneau

hung up - accroché

 

lesser-known - moins connu

unusual - inhabituel

laypeople - profane

sailors - marins

corpses - cadavres

 

equal - égale

slavery - esclavage

both - les deux

00:0000:00

129 - Fifty Shades of Black - Vocabulary

Visit www.anglais.re for more!

Once upon a time, when you were allowed to descend into the Enclos during an eruption, and when I could be up all night without suffering for a week afterwards, I went to the volcano.

This wasn’t just any old trip to the volcano however, it was a very special trip. An eruption was taking place, and a group of us had packed up the carwith clothes for all extremes of weather, hiking shoes, food, water, and cameras for a late night expedition. Midnight found us excitedly driving along thebumpy route forestière … only to reach the car park and be met with a wall of thick cloud. 

We were bitterly disappointed, but as we were also starting to feel a bit peckish we parked in an almost empty car park, and tucked into some of thesnacks we’d brought with us. A while later when we stepped out of the car, we realised the clouds had miraculously disappeared, so we got ourselves ready and headed along the path and down into the Enclos.

Now, it wasn’t the first time I’d visited the volcano during an eruption, nor the first time I’d hiked at night. I can’t remember what month it was, but although we were warm while walking, we rapidly felt frozen as soon as we stopped for a drink of water. It was during one of these thirst-quenchingbreaks that I remember looking back towards the centre of the island, and what I saw has stayed engraved on my memory ever since, even though it only lasted a few instants. 

There was a full moon that night and no clouds left. All of Reunion’s mountains were perfectly silhouetted against the starlit sky, in different shades of black and grey. There was no artificial light anywhere, and I felt as if I was one of the first people to set foot on the island and discover its treasures. Behind me I could also hear (and smell) the ‘whoosh’ of the lava spouts of the on-going eruption, which added to the magical atmosphere.

The cold forced us to carry on walking, but we knew from the red-tinged sky ahead that a different spectacle awaited us further on. There, we settled down to watch the eruption: far enough away to be safe, but close enough to kept warm. We sat for several hours, until day had broken, watching the amazing forces of nature. Together with what we had witnessed earlier, we formed memories that I am convinced will last me a lifetime. 

Vocabulary

 

once upon a time – il était une fois

to suffer – (ici) payer le prix

pack up the car – remplir la voiture

bumpy - cahoteux

bitterly – (ici) profondément

 

to feel peckish – avoir un petit creux

to tuck into – attaquer (quelque chose à manger)

snacks – en-cas

to head along – se diriger

thirst-quenching – désaltérant

 

engraved – gravé

full moon – pleine lune

starlit – étoilé

shades – nuances

to set foot – mettre les pieds

 

‘whoosh’ – souffle (bruit)

spouts – jets

tinged – teinté

day break – lever du jour

to witness – observer 

00:0000:00

129 - Fifty Shades of Black - Slow

Visit www.anglais.re for more!

Once upon a time, when you were allowed to descend into the Enclos during an eruption, and when I could be up all night without suffering for a week afterwards, I went to the volcano.

This wasn’t just any old trip to the volcano however, it was a very special trip. An eruption was taking place, and a group of us had packed up the car with clothes for all extremes of weather, hiking shoes, food, water, and cameras for a late night expedition. Midnight found us excitedly driving along the bumpy route forestière … only to reach the car park and be met with a wall of thick cloud. 

We were bitterly disappointed, but as we were also starting to feel a bit peckish we parked in an almost empty car park, and tucked into some of the snacks we’d brought with us. A while later when we stepped out of the car, we realised the clouds had miraculously disappeared, so we got ourselves ready and headed along the path and down into the Enclos.

Now, it wasn’t the first time I’d visited the volcano during an eruption, nor the first time I’d hiked at night. I can’t remember what month it was, but although we were warm while walking, we rapidly felt frozen as soon as we stopped for a drink of water. It was during one of these thirst-quenching breaks that I remember looking back towards the centre of the island, and what I saw has stayed engraved on my memory ever since, even though it only lasted a few instants. 

There was a full moon that night and no clouds left. All of Reunion’s mountains were perfectly silhouetted against the starlit sky, in different shades of black and grey. There was no artificial light anywhere, and I felt as if I was one of the first people to set foot on the island and discover its treasures. Behind me I could also hear (and smell) the ‘whoosh’ of the lava spouts of the on-going eruption, which added to the magical atmosphere.

The cold forced us to carry on walking, but we knew from the red-tinged sky ahead that a different spectacle awaited us further on. There, we settled down to watch the eruption: far enough away to be safe, but close enough to kept warm. We sat for several hours, until day had broken, watching the amazing forces of nature. Together with what we had witnessed earlier, we formed memories that I am convinced will last me a lifetime. 

Vocabulary

 

once upon a time – il était une fois

to suffer – (ici) payer le prix

pack up the car – remplir la voiture

bumpy - cahoteux

bitterly – (ici) profondément

 

to feel peckish – avoir un petit creux

to tuck into – attaquer (quelque chose à manger)

snacks – en-cas

to head along – se diriger

thirst-quenching – désaltérant

 

engraved – gravé

full moon – pleine lune

starlit – étoilé

shades – nuances

to set foot – mettre les pieds

 

‘whoosh’ – souffle (bruit)

spouts – jets

tinged – teinté

day break – lever du jour

to witness – observer 

00:0000:00

129 - Fifty Shades of Black

Visit www.anglais.re for more!

Once upon a time, when you were allowed to descend into the Enclos during an eruption, and when I could be up all night without suffering for a week afterwards, I went to the volcano.

This wasn’t just any old trip to the volcano however, it was a very special trip. An eruption was taking place, and a group of us had packed up the car with clothes for all extremes of weather, hiking shoes, food, water, and cameras for a late night expedition. Midnight found us excitedly driving along the bumpy route forestière … only to reach the car park and be met with a wall of thick cloud.

We were bitterly disappointed, but as we were also starting to feel a bit peckish we parked in an almost empty car park, and tucked into some of the snacks we’d brought with us. A while later when we stepped out of the car, we realised the clouds had miraculously disappeared, so we got ourselves ready and headed along the path and down into the Enclos.

Now, it wasn’t the first time I’d visited the volcano during an eruption, nor the first time I’d hiked at night. I can’t remember what month it was, but although we were warm while walking, we rapidly felt frozen as soon as we stopped for a drink of water. It was during one of these thirst-quenching breaks that I remember looking back towards the centre of the island, and what I saw has stayed engraved on my memory ever since, even though it only lasted a few instants. 

There was a full moon that night and no clouds left. All of Reunion’s mountains were perfectly silhouetted against the starlit sky, in different shades of black and grey. There was no artificial light anywhere, and I felt as if I was one of the first people to set foot on the island and discover its treasures. Behind me I could also hear (and smell) the ‘whoosh’ of the lava spouts of the on-going eruption, which added to the magical atmosphere.

The cold forced us to carry on walking, but we knew from the red-tinged sky ahead that a different spectacle awaited us further on. There, we settled down to watch the eruption: far enough away to be safe, but close enough to kept warm. We sat for several hours, until day had broken, watching the amazing forces of nature. Together with what we had witnessed earlier, we formed memories that I am convinced will last me a lifetime.

Vocabulary

 

once upon a time – il était une fois

to suffer – (ici) payer le prix

pack up the car – remplir la voiture

bumpy - cahoteux

bitterly – (ici) profondément

 

to feel peckish – avoir un petit creux

to tuck into – attaquer (quelque chose à manger)

snacks – en-cas

to head along – se diriger

thirst-quenching – désaltérant

 

engraved – gravé

full moon – pleine lune

starlit – étoilé

shades – nuances

to set foot – mettre les pieds

 

‘whoosh’ – souffle (bruit)

spouts – jets

tinged – teinté

day break – lever du jour

to witness – observer 

00:0000:00

128 - Three Questions to an American - Vocabulary

Visit www.anglais.re for more!

After ten years in Reunion, I realized that I could mentally prepare myself, for a certain series of questions, whenever I would meet a person from Reunion. It’s sort of like preparing for that job interview question, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” After two or three tries, I had the answers down pat in French. Here are my top three questions people from Reunion ask a native New Yorker.

1) Is living in Reunion too much of a shock for an American, especially coming from New York City?

Not as much as you’d think. People imagine New York City, all flashing lights and blaring police sirens. Well, ok, it is all that. But New York City is also, little nooks and crannies, of pocket neighborhoods; with the local supermarket, butcher’s, bakery, bar, and post office. So, I’m not shocked by life in a small town, on a beautiful, tropical island. And that is what living abroad is about anyway, experiencing a new way of living.

2) Is Creole too difficult for you to understand?

A lot of Creoles don’t understand that their language is actually more like English than French. Don’t believe me, ask my husband’s grandmother, who was a school teacher for many, many years in Saint Denis! So Creole is easier for me sometimes than French. No trying to remember masculine and feminine nouns or their articles. “Mi aime a ou?” I love you too!

So no, Creole isn’t that difficult to understand.  What’s difficult, is trying to keep the Creole out of my French. I have no filter for this. I actually once, answered “bah” to a French school teacher. Yikes!

3) Is Creole food too spicy for you?

My answer to this question, often disappoints people. In New York City, we’ve got every type of ethnic food you can think of. There is even The Reunion Surf Bar. My favorite types of food, Mexican and Indian. So, scorching chillies, exotic spices, and beans, all on top of a steaming bed of rice, is not too bold. Thanks to China Town; I’d already tasted chayote, bitter melon, and ridge gourd, before coming to Reunion. Even litchis and longan fruit can be found, in the Korean market five minutes from my parents’.

That being said, I have grown to love the typical dishes here. My father-in-law says that I eat more chillies than he does. I am no longer surprised to see rice, being ingested, twice a day. At first, I served myself carrys on a bed of lettuce. I now consider that to be sacrilege and load up my plate with rice too, just like a local.

Vocabulary

strengths and weaknesses – pointes fortes et faibles

blaring – hurlante

nooks and crannies - coins et recoins

pocket neighborhoods – petit quartiers

butcher’s - boucherie

 

bakery - pâtisserie

easier – plus facile

out of – en dehors

yikes ! - mince alors !

scorching chillies – piments si forts qu’ils brulent

 

beans - haricots

bed of rice – un lit de riz

China Town – quartier chinois

chayote - chouchou

bitter melon - margoze

 

ridge gourd - pipangaille

longan - longani

typical dishes - plats typiques

ingested - ingéré

to load up - charger

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