Thursday, 31 August 2017

A documentary and 2 more podcasts about Reunion

For my third podcast recording session* I recorded two episodes:

- the first was entitled 'What A Waste' and I talk about an unusual visit I made for World Water Way on 22nd April.

The second is called 'Dirty Weekend' and I recount an eventful hike I made a few years ago to Marla in Mafate, when everything that could have gone wrong did!

* For more explanations about why I'm recording podcasts see here and here. The podcasts are organised by the team at, and video recording for these podcasts took place in the studio of O'tv La Réunion. Here I am in front of the green screen:

A University of Reunion Island documentary about Barau's petrels which I translated and voiced was also made available on Youtube this month. Called "Taille-vent, the mountain petrel", it tells the story of this endangered species and the conservation work involved in protecting it.

More viewing/listening:

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Don't Let Go

When I first heard that "Ne lâche pas ma main", a French crime novel set in Reunion by Michel Bussi (France's third best-selling author), was going to be translated into English and released as "Don't Let Go" I thought 'great'. Then I read the French book and was very disappointed. 

English cover

The crime story itself is decent enough, but:

  • Bussi uses a lot of clichés about the island and has only a superficial knowledge of Reunion's social climate and realities gleaned from what I've gathered from one or two stays on the island;
  • Bussi uses some Creole but not always Reunion Creole (other people have said it's from the West Indies: Martinique or Guadeloupe);
  • Bussi's timings are completely off (e.g. time taken to drive from Saint Gilles to the volcano, or time needed to walk from the Plaine des Sables to Sainte-Rose). This is somewhat surprising given that the author is also a Professor of Geography!
I see from the Amazon reviews that the translator, Sam Taylor, also used a lot of translator's notes to explain things, which is never a good sign. 

French cover

Have you read it? What did you think?


Here's a video from 2013 of the author talking about the book (in French but subtitled in English):

A review at on 15 May 2017

A Death in Paradise - a review by Wendy Montrose on 29 June 2017 at Scoop Review of Books

A review at Mysteries in Paradise on 5 August 2017

Michel Bussi’s latest thriller is clever and nuanced - review by Margaret von Klemperer on 10 August 2017 in the South African Sunday Times

Michel Bussi’s ‘Don’t Let Go’ is a gripper - review by Ivinder Gill published on 13 August 2017 in The Financial Express.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Sentier Littoral Nord

The Sentier Littoral Nord is a 21 km-long path that extends from the western edge of Saint-Denis to Sainte-Suzanne, passing through Sainte-Marie en route. I recently had the opportunity of doing a cultural and historical walk along part of the path, which I know well from having walked, ran or cycled it many times.

we started at La Mare and finished at Village Desprez

The meeting point was at the marina at La Mare, Sainte Marie which is at the eastern end of the airport runway.

At Sainte-Marie marina, looking back towards Saint-Denis and with the red and
white chimney of the old La Mare sugar factory in the middle of the photo

Barbary fig (aka prickly pear), which looks like a hand or foot with digits

Barbary fig budding flower

Barbary fig flower

I was interested to learn that seagrapes (raisins de mer) can be eaten when they're ripe.

Some not-quite-ripe seagrapes

side view of Notre-Dame de l'Assomption church, Sainte-Marie

When slavery was abolished in 1848 the area saw the arrival of numerous indentured workers from India to work on the sugarcane plantations and they were allowed to build temples near their living areas. They often built them near the sea in order to be able to wash statues for religious ceremonies.

side view of a small Indian temple

Looking out to sea; the temple in the previous photo is just out of shot to the left.
You can se the pile of logs being stored for a future firewalking
Weaver bird nests in bamboo

we saw a panther chameleon, known locally as an endormi

Small Saint-Expédit shrines are a common sight in Reunion, where the saint has a significant folk following. Stories about the origin of his veneration vary. Decapitated statues of the saint are often found, the defacement inflicted in anger for a request not carried out, or in order to break an existing curse.

a decapitated Saint-Expedit statue

statue of Ganesh, the elephant-headed Indian god, near the entrance to another temple

the invasive Madagascar day gecko

pedestrian tunnel underneath Sainte-Suzanne lighthouse 

You can read more about a separate visit to Sainte-Suzanne lighthouse here. It is the only working lighthouse in Reunion.

We finished our very informative walk a little further on from the lighthouse at an area known as Le Bocage, where we able to have a well-deserved lunch before taking a bus back to La Mare where we had left our cars.

For this and other guided visits like this you can contact Geoffrey at or Les Aventuriers de l'Est on Facebook, or write to him at

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Diving the Hai Siang

The Hai Siang is a 49-metre former Taiwanese fishing boat that was voluntarily sunk off the coast of Cap Homard (Reunion Island) in 1983. The name means 'wild pig' in Chinese. It lies on a sandy bottom at 55 metres deep and, if you are appropriately qualified, it makes for good diving as you can see from the photos below. We saw lots of snappers, unicorn fish, trumpetfish and clown triggerfish. Unlike the Antonio Lorenzo it rests upright.

Hai Siang looking at the bow 

Hai Siang mast

Hai Siang stern

school of snappers

me with snappers

deck, looking aft

on the seabed, off to starboard side.


looking down at the deck to the entrance to the holds

To finish with, a professional photo of the Hai Siang by Gaby Barathieu:

Monday, 20 March 2017

Flyboarding in Reunion

Ever heard of a Flyboard? A type of jetpack supplies propulsion to drive a 'board' through and above water to perform a sport known as flyboarding. It was invented in 2012 by a French water-craft rider, Franky Zapata. 

pre-activity briefing with Jean-Luc Gilquin

A Flyboard rider stands on a board connected by a long hose to a watercraft. Water is forced under pressure to a pair of boots with jet nozzles underneath which provide thrust for the rider to fly up to 15 m in the air.

The design allows the device to climb out of the water and be more or less stable in the air using underfoot propulsion and hand stabilisation. 

The Flyboard is buoyant for safety, which also allows the rider to rest in the water between rides. 

In Reunion the activity is run by Jean-Luc Gilquin at the Colosse Park in Saint André, where there's one of the island's few inland bodies of water suitable for this type of activity. (It can't be done over the sea due to the water sports ban currently in place in Reunion due to the shark situation).

you can see the hose clearly in this photo

In the photos you can see my husband, with the results after about 15-20 minutes of getting used to the device.

To find out more:

Sunday, 12 March 2017


Fronted by Gilbert Pounia, Ziskakan are one of Reunion's best known groups. They formed in 1979 and their style is maloya, to which they add modern techniques as well as some Indian instruments. They have toured abroad extensively: USA, UK, Belgium, IndiaMauritius, Seychelles, as well as mainland France.

Here they are yesterday playing one of their most famous songs: Bato Fou.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Diving the Antonio Lorenzo

I did my second dive on the Antonio Lorenzo yesterday; the first was in October 2013.

The Antonio Lorenzo is a 53-metre Chilean longliner which lies at a depth of 38 metres in the bay of Saint-Leu

On 1st September 1998 it was caught by a French patrol boat illegally fishing in French territorial waters 120 nautical miles from the Kerguelen islands in the southern Indian Ocean. Its holds contained 100 tonnes of Patagonian tooth fish. It was brought back to Reunion, where arrived on 14th September. On 16th December 1999 six holes were drilled into its hull, and it was sunk as an artificial reef at Pointe des Chateaux.

It lies on its port side, which explains why the mast sticks out a 45° angle. I'm afraid I'm not much good with technical language for vessel elements, so I can't label what different parts are called.

this almost looks like a coral reef but is part of the vessel
a last, somewhat ghostly, shot as we started ascending

me with my SMB during our 10-minute safety stop

See also

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Interview on

Last month I had an interview published on the website (formerly known as 

Entitled Reunion Island: Love at first sight I discuss my love for Reunion's lifestyle, natural landscapes, and its ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity.

So if you want to know (amongst other things) what brought me to Reunion Island, a useful tip for soon-to-be expatriates on the island, and how easy it is for an expat to live here, read the interview here!

Plaine des Sables

At Grand-Etang 

In Saint-Pierre town centre

See also: