Inevitably the time has come for me to write about my experiences thus far on the island. However, since I have been here for well over a month already, I need to give a very basic summary of what I have done, otherwise I will end up spending hours on my laptop retelling everything that has already happened...
I arrived on the 23rd of Sept in Saint Denis, where I was picked up by an English teacher at one of my high schools, Mme Sagodira. I then met several other high school teachers at a French cafe "Chez Paul" on the coast.
The teachers were nice enough to then give me a lift to the other high school teacher, Mme Gopal, who I lived with for the next two weeks. Mme Gopal, her husband Joel, and their two sons, Victor and Paul (as well as their puppy Caramel) were INCREDIBLY kind and welcoming to me. They gave me their entire downstairs to use as a private apartment - I felt uncomfortable by how giving they were!
Rebecca, another American assistant and I searched for an apartment non-stop. It was a living hell!!! Housing here is incredibly expensive. In addition, the Universite de la Reunion is in Saint Denis, so university students were also looking for apartments the same time that we were. In the end, we found a place that was brand new, and fairly expensive (when utilities are added in). However, it didn't come with any furniture. ANY. Fortunately, my host family gave me a mattress. Rebecca and I went to chinese bazaars (equivalent of the American dollar store), markets, and cheap furniture stores to buy the bare basices (light bulbs, towels, clothing rack - yes, there isn't even a closet - etc, etc) Our next project was to find a fridge, which we eventually did (the man had what he called a "jardin des frigos" - he literally had dozens of fridges in his lawn). We still have no furniture, so while the apartment is big, clean and new, we have nothing to sit on.
The apartment came with two balconies which are absolutely wonderful. Since we are on the 3rd floor, we have a good view of the neighborhood, as well as the mountains in the distance.
We already had two weeks of vacation in October which we used to get internet/fridge, as well as visit the beaches in the West and hike around one of the cirques. The second week of the vacation we worked in the mornings as English teachers for high school students who chose to get extra practice on their oral English skills. It was such a wonderful experience to be able to lead a classroom myself, and watch the students develop their English accents and vocabulary.
For now, it is back to work. I am still working on getting regular schedules for both high schools that I work at (one of my high schools is still insisting that they change my time schedule every week). I have also started on a new project with LP Rontaunay, one of my high schools, on teaching teachers (non-English teachers) English conversation. This is a unique type of professional development that will help them in both their professional and personal lives. I have an interview next week to teach English lessons at the Chambre de Commerce in Chaudron as well.
Okay, I realize that this is a pathetic blog entry but I am exhausted and get bored easily on the computer when there is so much to see and do!
Miss you all,