The volcanic island of Réunion is a French région in the Indian ocean off the East coast of Madagascar. Being francophone, and since the French only seem to holiday in francophone places, it is one of France's holiday destinations. I do find it a little strange to see the different parts of France competing against each other to attract their citizens to holiday there. It reminds me of Mark Twain's comment about people making a living taking in each others' washing. We went there for a few days last week.
It was a long flight but I appreciated that it was overnight, so a large part of the time was spent sleeping. We flew CoursairFly since we thought that Air France would likely be on strike, a decision that in the event proved well-founded.
Hot weather, spectacular volcanic landscape, plenty of things to do and places to visit. A special view was looking down into the dormant crater, on to the houses 1500 metres below. The Canna Lillies that I struggle to keep alive here, growing naturalised in the gardens. And the mix of peoples that now inhabit the island make for wonderful créole and other foods.
Réunion has an unemplyment rate of nearly 30%, and jobs in the public sector make up 40% of the employment. Not a lot of industry, then, but some sugar from cane, and vanilla production. Bourbon vanilla is known worldwide, although the orchid from which it is harvested is native to South America. Pollination is done by hand since there are no native insects that can fertilise it. The flowers last half a day, opening in the morning, and an experienced pollinator can fertilise 2,000 flowers in that time. Drying and sorting of the vanilla pods that result is also labour-intensive, the whole process taking about a year.