Monday, February 22, 2010

Back to Winter . . .

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Instructions For Re-Opening Blog After Vacation Is Over :
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1. Take taxi home from airport, pay exorbitant taxi fare. Marvel at how cold freezing weather is on a Sunday morning after two weeks in the tropics.
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2. Unpack suitcases, take long nap after sleepless night on airplane watching movies.
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3. Give affection starved cats plenty of hugs and patting.
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4. Put off blogging until tomorrow as too tired to see straight; too much to do still to get back into the swing of life at home again between two weeks worth of sweaty laundry, hiking boots to put away, snorkeling tubes and masks to stow in closet, etc. . .
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5. Open two weeks of postal mail, the usual bills etc... Clear out two weeks of spam e-mails interspersed with the occasional real message from a real person. Delete about 75 spammed comments from blog moderation, while publishing a few kind comments that came in while away...
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6. Go to bed early get long and refreshing good night's sleep in own bed with own pillow and quilt . . . close to heaven !
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7. Get up next day feeling nearly human again, have breakfast, make big mug of coffee, turn on PC, proceed to copy from compact flash memory cards approximately 25 giga-bytes of photos taken over the past two weeks to PC, back them up to external hard drive as well to prevent accidental loss of treasured images.
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8. Debate for long while about which of over 1700 photos taken while on l'île de la Réunion to post on blog first. Drink more coffee.
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9. Finally get down to serious business of blogging again . . . Wonder if anyone will still be out there to read this after such a long time away . . .
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So . . . after a much needed breather over the past couple of weeks away discovering Reunion Island, a small corner of France I'd heard of but never been to, it is good to be typing in this white box again, one starts to miss the good company of the blogosphere when away from it for too long. . .
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Reunion Island is a few hundred miles off the east coast of Madagascar. A volcanic island that sprang up out of the sea only about three million years ago, a relative youngster as far as dry land goes. The tortured history of a long series of geographic upheavals caused by volcanic eruptions is clearly evident on this relatively small island that rises out of the Indian Ocean to a height of about 10000 feet in altitude over a distance of not more than 20 miles from the coast to the highest point, le Piton des Neiges. An amazing place in many dimensions. Today it is what is known as a DOM of France, a "Département d'Outre Mer", or an overseas administrative territory. Hard to believe one can take a flight from Paris that lasts over 11 hours, crossing part of Africa and the equator, and land again . . . in France.
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This first post is not going to go into too much detail, call it hors d'oeuvres, une amuse-gueule as they say, a little bit of an appetizer. But there will be more to come . . . la Réunion will be another theme to be threaded into this multifarious creation over the coming weeks and months. And may you enjoy it as much as we did, even if only vicariously. Who knows, perhaps the images to come may inspire one or two of you to get in a sailboat and head across the wide oceans to pull into one of the ports of la Réunion some day soon . . .
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Tropical islands are reputed to have an abundance of palm trees and endless beaches . . . la Réunion is no exception. And although such attractions are far from the only sights worth seeing on the island, I guess they're as good a place to start as any, just to sort of whet your appetites for what will follow, picnics by the beach are a time honored tradition . . .
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At one end of the beach where the above palm trees were photographed, a place on the south coast of the island known as Grande Anse, a small corner of water was ringed with large stones to create a protected calm area for bathing, as otherwise the currents present there would render the water too dangerous for swimming. More on that later.
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The other end of the same beach . . . more palm trees . . .
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On several evenings we were treated to splendid sunsets, this was off the west coast, at a place called Hermitage les Bains . . .
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While wandering the island, north to south, east to west, in two different spots I stumbled on signs that couldn't help but remind me of one of the finest photography blogs out there in the blogosphere, run by one of the finest blogging pals one could ever wish to have stumbled on by pure hazard . . . none other than Loulou at Indiaphragme, so just to get back into the swing of blogging again, here's a little friendly coucou to Loulou . . . This first one was way up in one of the three interior cirques of the island . . . not easy to spot either, but as you know by now I like to poke around back streets and alleys . . .
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The second was in a beach town on the west coast, a pastry shop . . .
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This was the shop just adjacent to Chez Loulou, with a name symbolic of some of the best la Réunion has to offer, sun and vanilla, in great abundance. The white bird on the shutter is a paille-en-queue, or straw in the tail, an emblematic bird of the island . . .
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48 comments:

Stickup Artist said...

Oh wow, I get to be the first to say Welcome Back, You have been missed. Those sunsets are gorgeous. Absolutely love the black and white, and those beaches are just too beautiful. Looks like you and your family had a fantastic vacation and you just couldn't have picked a better spot. Could say more but I'm gonna click publish cause I'm getting a kick out of being first!

Lena said...

Oh... J'adore!!!

Actually green with envy here, Owen...

Warmest hugs from Mexico... :)

Deborah said...

Has it only been two weeks??? I swear you've been gone for ages.

Wonderful that you had such a good trip - I bet you all thought you'd died and gone to heaven. Pretty, pretty pictures - it'll go on my list of maybe-one-day-I'll-get-there destinations.

You might get a chortle out of knowing that your name was tossed around the blogosphere at one point between the Var and SoCal. For further details, you'll have to search every single one of The Pliers' posts since you've been gone.

Nice to have you back, Owen!

Steve said...

Wonderfully exotic... all that's missing is some blue aliens! Welcome back, Owen!

James said...

Welcome back Owen. I know the vaction return drill all too well. It's really nice to see your warm, wonderful and very colorful photos. Give the cats some extra pettings from moi.

Loulou said...

At last he is back! Thought you would never come back since I knew the destination of your dream trip!
Welcome back enjoy the souvenirs (they must be many) you all gathered while you were there.
We are looking forward to hearing to the stories you will share with us.
Nice first post for sure!!!!!
Even far, I can see that you stay close to Indiaphragme ;-)))) Wish I had a café "Chez Loulou" to welcome you all...

Take care, say hello to the 3 treasures of yours.
Loulou

.:: Karine ::. said...

bon retour owen adoré !

ce beau voyage a dû te ressourcer car ces pays tropicaux sont de vrais paradis :-)

tes photos sont splendides, toujours empreintes d'émotion et ont ce petit quelque chose que l'on reconnaît immédiatement, ça c'est vraiment toi !

je t'envoie des milliers de bisous

Peter said...

Yes, welcome back!!!

... and you make a post like this the day after your arrival! You are a REAL blogger!

Thanks for the link also to Loulou's blog! Fascinating!

louciao said...

Oh, so you were away?

K'line Bloom said...

Bon retour Owen !
Les palmiers donnent très envie et les couchers de soleils sont fabuleux...
Tu dois avoir les batteries rechargées au maximum après avoir séjourné dans un si bel endroit :)
Le clin d'œil à Loulou est très sympathique ;-))
Bises

TechnoBabe said...

Snorkeling, vacationing, family fun. I am so happy you had a good time. Welcome back. These are wonderful photos of course. It seemed like you were gone a month!

Nevine said...

Owen, it's such a joy to have you back! And it sounds like you had enormous amounts of fun on your trip, so I'll forgive you for being absent for so long. Also, your photos just made me drool, so again, I'll excuse you. Of particular interest to me were your sunset photos... I go gaga over a sunset, so there you have it. The colors of your vacation island are so vibrant and alive, and I so long for summer and the beach. So yes, I've just enjoyed it a bit, vicariously, in anticipation of enjoying the reality this summer, though I doubt I'll be headed to the same spot. Thanks for coming back and for treating us to these lovely photos. And again, it's great to have you back, Owen!

Nevine

The Sagittarian said...

Haha, that sister of ours had the right comment I reckon! Typical she got in first tho'....
Fab sunsets there, I can imagine a cocktail in hand, the waves murmuring their prayers as the sun slips into the night...you must be delighted to be home tho' - you can't beat sleeping in your own scratcher I say!!

Catherine said...

welcome back - must have been very hard to leave those palms and sunsets...

Ann said...

Owen,
so glad you are back. so glad you had such a fabulous time in such a beautiful place. so glad you shared the gorgeous photos, as I get to take another vacation that I'll never be able to afford!!
so glad that you are the magnificent blogger that you are...helping raise and provide financially for my 3 grandchildren leaves no money for extras like vacations,so your posts are the daily,weekly,monthly "time away" that I need to stay sane!!!!
The palm tress and sunsets are magnificent..the cafe, oh, to stop and enjoy myself with something delicious...what did you have there?...I can hardly wait to share more of your vacation!!

The Pliers said...

I do believe that you celebrated a birthday last Friday. Do correct me if I'm wrong. Belated Happy Birthday and welcome back! You didn't miss much. Just joking! I'm sure that tons of things were happening all over the place so good thing you are back to start catching up.

I've had a couple of friends who have gone to l'île de la Réunion. Looks beautiful, although that could just be a reflection of your eye!

Nice to see you back. Great list!

AmyR said...

I am happy to visit vicariously through your words and images, they are such delightful ones after all.

This island looks incredible and the color palette is already reminding me of Vieques Island. Though as you said, all islands tend to have at least a few things in common.

It sounds like you had a lovely time, and I'm glad you got away. I can't wait to hear about your adventures.

Welcome back.

Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

Welcome back, and **SIGH**. I am instantly warmed by those photos but really am quite envious! :) I hope one day to visit there as your photos are very inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

Jilly said...

Welcome back, Owen. And what wonders you show us. Looks to me as if the Ile de Reunion is everything I've heard it to be. Thanks also for the link to Loulou's blog. I didn't know it. Wonderful!

Look forward to more great shots of your trip and to entering into your marvellous world again.

Alberto Oliver said...

Very Welcome back Owen!!!! You hasn´t lost the ryhtm!! superb pictures. . . .
Let´s blog again!!!

A rambling rose said...

welcome home - Imagine what I am going to feel like returning to the freezing temperatures in the UK after 3 MONTHS in tropical temps!!!

designslinger.com said...

What a place to have a Reunion!!
And kudos for getting back to blogging so soon after returning from such a dreamy getaway.

Jim

French Fancy said...

Welcome back indeed to your little white box full of your friends' good wishes at your return.

As for these photos of the paradise you have been staying in - jealous? me?

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Welcome back and thanks for sharing about a place few of us will ever have the opportunity to visit. They're great photos.

Owen said...

Hi StickUp ! So glad to be stuck up first by your visit... my hands are high in the air... waving greetings to you way out there and ocean and a continent away, in the sunny southern CA coastal winter... I remember lounging on the beach in December in San Diego... the land of Bukowski, the land of the Doors, the Dead, and deserts soon to be blooming in the rush of desert wildflowers... where Edward Abbey's ghost is roaming at sunset... enjoy, enjoy... so happy to have you drop by right after getting home... !

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Hi Lena !
A pleasure to see your greetings here, hugs included, all the way from Mexico... from a Phd at that ! I'm honored... and blushing too... Hope all is well where you are !
:-)

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Hey Deborah... well, I'm intrigued now, I took a look through the Pliers place, but didn't see my name anywhere, guess I didn't look hard enough, will have to go back and look some more. As for thinking of dying and going to heaven, indeed, indeed, that was the case the morning we hiked up to the top of the 2600 metre high volcano, it was a tough climb, but the view from the top was heavenly... Hope you will have a chance to get to all the places on your list of maybe someday... it's good to have a list like that, and good to get to some of those places too... I'd been wanting to see la Reunion for some time. Two weeks sure can go by fast sometimes... !

BLOGitse said...

Welcome back!!!
What a place you've been. Amazing pictures!
Have good week back in reality... :)

BLOGitse

Owen said...

Hey Steve ! Guess those blue aliens would be from Avatar ? Didn't see any blue aliens there, but certainly saw some aliens who'd had a few too many blue, green, yellow, or red rums, what they call "rhum arrangé", rum that's been doctored in ungodly manners, that turns people into incoherent slobbering philosophy spouting public nuisances... ah, nowhere is perfect eh ?

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Hi James, have just given the cats some extra strokes... they meow their thanks to you... Yeah, that vacation drill of getting back, always good to slip back into one's own comfortable bed again. It always amazes me how many horribly uncomfortable pillow exist in the world, lumpy, overstuffed, skinny, foam rubber, hard head mangling affairs. I swear next time I'm taking my own pillow with me... what a difference a good pillow makes...

Owen said...

Ah Loulou, of course I thought of you immediately when I saw Chez Loulou signs... impossible not to... even on vacation, I still had a few thoughts straying back to the blogosphere every now and then... more posts to come will illustrate that. But so good to hear from you, and I can see that Indiaphragme is going strong... so, much happiness to you and yours as we head out of winter back into spring again... grands bisoux !

Jessie said...

Beautiful photos! I love to come back to the Bloggesphere after being away, there's so much to see and catch up on isn't there?! Looks like you had an amazing holiday :)

Owen said...

Chère Karine,
Quel plaisir de retrouver ton mot ici... mille fois merci ! Quel plaisir d'être de retour, bien que l'on aurait pu rester encore et encore là-bas, tellement les jours sont longs et doux, bercé par les vagues, par la chaleur, par les brises tropicales... même si l'on a frolé le passage d'une petite cyclone, mais qui est finalement restée assez loin pour ne pas retarder le départ... c'est un pays de fortes émotions, fort soleil, fortes pluies, forts beaux paysages, de mélanges de cultures fascinantes, de pauvreté aux richesses, d'intelligence aux betises... nulle part n'est parfait, mais c'est riche en expériences fortes là-bas... j'y retournerais avec plaisir. En tout cas, c'est un réel bonheur de te retrouver au retour, j'espère que l'hiver se passe comme sur des roulettes pour toi et les tiens, j'ai bien aimé ton reportage montagne ! Bisoux to you too !

Owen said...

Hi Peter, well I guess a real blogger would have posted the same day of returning, instead of napping and sleeping all night... but I didn't want to stay away too long either, lest people start to forget the Magic Lantern... Very happy to see you drop by, and really, one day soon we are going to have to meet up in Paris... maybe when the weather gets just a bit warmer... take care and all best wishes for excellent strolls around Paris which you do so well !

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Ah Mad Lynne, you are such a riot ! What would I do without such a great big Sis as you ??? Now get back to your photoshop and produce some more magic for us... well, maybe we could have a drink first ??? Where's that sassy Saj ???
:-)

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Chère K'line ! Ah le bonheur de te retrouver au rendez vous de retour ! Je suis tout souriant de plaisir de lire ce petit mot... autant d'attentions... tu es vraiment merveilleuse pour remplir des petites phrases avec autant de gentillesses... voilà tout... et oui, les batteries sont rechargées, pret à réattaquer le boulot et le reste. Quant à Loulou, Loulou vaut toujours un clin d'oeil, n'est-ce pas ?!
:-)
J'espère que tout va bien chez toi, et que tes projets avance, et que peut-être un jour on aura le plaisir de retrouver un autre petit blog qui nous ouvrirait une fenêtre dans la vie de K'line Bloom... mais bon, on a la patience d'attendre que certaines fleurs se mettent en fleur au printemps... ou en été, parfois en automne même...
:-)

Owen said...

Hi TechnoB, thanks so much, indeed, the family fun part was the best, spending two straight weeks in nearly constant company of family as compared to the brief moments of quality time around work and school and normal life was close to heaven... kids grow up fast, this may have been one of the last family vacations while they are still young enough to go on a trip like this all together... a pleasure. Good to see you again here, I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed your company over the past months...

Owen said...

Hi Nevine, a million warm hello's and hugs to you, it is really good to get back after a trip and find good company again, and I'll humbly plead forgiveness for being away for so long and coming back with photos to cause drooling, here, let me pass you a towel to wipe that up with, there, that's better, never good to see a grown lady drooling in public, well, almost never, but then I'll bet you can get away with almost anything... In any case, yes, a thousand radiant thank you's for being there, for connecting, your chaleureux greetings of return. It is good to be back, and good to find some good folks like yourself haven't totally forgotten the Magic Lantern over such a long absence... à bientôt... à très bientôt...
:-)

Owen said...

Dearest Sister Saj, now what on earth is a "scratcher" ??? Is that what you call a bed in your part of the world ??? But why on earth a scratcher ??? Is it because the old wool blankets are so scratchy that you can't go to sleep for itching ??? In any case, whatever a scratcher is, it is good to be back home to sleep in it, for sure, always nice to get back home again, although we were awfully tempted to stay another few weeks down there, and give this northern winter more time to clear out and head somewhere else, like down your way... ah, what goes around comes around as they say... I saw where your were tantalizing our sister Lynne with your tales of 28° weather... well, in la Réunion it was between 30 to 35° most days, by the coast at least, cooler in the high central areas... Anyway, very happy indeed to find my sister sod here so soon after getting back... ! See you soon for more adventures and drinks and generally crashing around the blogosphere making public nuisances of ourselves...

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Hi Catherine, you know it, very hard indeed to leave all that behind and return to the gray and cold and wet and rain of these northern latitudes... but all good things must end someday. And then we can dream about going back...

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Hi Ann ! If I can succeed in bringing a few rays of vicarious sunshine to far away distant homes, then I'm happy, and very glad if you've found a few moments of diversion and dreaming here, will do my best to continue to entertain with whatever comes into the lights of the magic lantern... and someday, after all your hard work, I'll hope you'll have a chance to take a trip you may have been dreaming of... who knows what the future holds... I feel very fortunate indeed to have been able to take off if even only for a short while... many thanks for your kind thoughts here...

Owen said...

Dear Dear Pliers !
Umm, I did celebrate a birthday recently, a bit of a milestone one I guess, but it was about 2/3rds of the way through January, but still very fresh in memory, and this little excursion to a distant island was certainly partly to celebrate making it to half a century, which is a great surprise to me... well, we'll see if I can keep going for another half century now ! La Réunion has many beautiful aspects, and some less beautiful, but hey, nowhere is perfect, nowhere I've found yet anyway... will be expounding soon on several facets of life on la Réunion that surprised us. But all in all, it is a fascinating place, I'd happily go back soon to discover more of it, as we scratched the surface, but two weeks is not nearly enough. A pleasure to read you here, will look forward to learning more of what plans you have for the near future ! Perhaps some travel of your own coming up soon ??? Bisoux ! And Bonjour to Mr Pliers !

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Hi Amy ! Ah, tropical islands in the Caribbean or the Indian Ocean, or wherever, I think they all have a bit of magic that makes us mainland people who grew up with tales of Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island and pirates and so forth daydream more than just a little bit, Peter Pan and all... and there were plenty of pirates on la Réunion, visited the grave of a famous one named la Buse... more on that later. Anyway, glad to give you a little vicarious pleasure and reminders of your own island trip not so long ago... see you soon...
:-)

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Hi Karin (Alienne Parisienne) May your dreams come true then one day soon, that you can take off from Paris and after a few movies and a nap on the plane find yourself landing at Roland Garros Airport just east of Saint Denis de la Réunion... if such is your desire. And hey, I just now noticed in your Blogger profile where under music you expressed an appreciation for the Grateful Dead... if you go down my sidebar to the labels list, and click on Gratefule Dead, or Dreadful Grate, or Jerry Garcia, you'll find a few past posts I've done in that domain, which is a favorite of mine too... so, as they used to say, have a grateful day ! And thanks for your note here...

Owen said...

Hi Jilly ! So good to be back and find that the Magic Lantern hasn't been totally forgotten in the meanwhile. Many thanks and glad you enjoyed Loulou's blog, she's a pleasure day in and day out... Hope all is well with you in the south and that all your canine friends are in fine form... will look forward to catching up on all the blogs I've been missing while away... but then it's good to get away sometimes too, and forget everything while focusing on new and totally different scenery... all the best to you !

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Hi Alberto ! for sure, let the blog times roll again... many thanks, and see you soon, hope all is well with your nordic adventures, will be by soon to see what you've been up to of late...

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Dear Rambling Rose, I imagine you will transform into an ice cube shortly after arriving at London Heathrow... or would it be Gatwick ? Or Stansted ? Or other point of arrival... wherever, this winter has been brutally cold, so if you've been away for the past three months somewhere warm, it's going to be a rude shock. Even after only two weeks away it was brutal. Funny how at the airport in Reunion people were running around in shorts and t-shirts, but on arrival in Paris, somehow everyone had magically bundled up in jeans and jackets and sweaters and all...

Owen said...

Hey Jim, good to read you here so fast... yes, an excellent place for business meetings I think, they should do more to promote conferences and whatnot... although I guess the length of the flight is a bit of a damper, from the US Hawaii is closer, or the Virgin Islands...

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Hi FF ! Jealous ?? Guess you're just going to have to convince Mr FF to bundle you up into an airplane and sweep you away for a little holiday yourselves... breaking open piggy banks and tossing caution to the wind sometimes does wonders for the soul... many thanks for your welcome back... it is good to get back out into the blogosphere after a while away...

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Hey LGS, oh most revered King of the Squirrel Kingdom... many thanks, it's good to be back...

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Hi BlogItse, many thanks for your greetings back !

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Hello Jessie, ah, you slipped in there just as I was starting to answer comments here... yes indeed, there is so much to get back to after a while away, and all a pleasure, to see what people have been up to...

Jo said...

I heard this voice saying "Ohhhhhhhhh" when I looked at those photos, and then I realized it was my voice.

"Ohhhhhhhhhh"

Lyn said...

It is so good for you that you went away..good for us that you came back..the photos are heaven..I'd go if I'd find what you did!!

Nathalie said...

All right, I'll side in with the jealous lot.... just can't help it.

Having said that another side of me is just plain happy that you were able to enjoy this beautiful island and escape the cold for a while.

Welcome home, it's great to have you back!

Nathalie said...

And hey, you ARE doing a great job at doing the tourist office thing. That top photo is as good as it gets!

Owen said...

Hey Jo ! Now that is a very fine compliment indeed... I was wondering where that "oh" had come from that I heard over here a little while ago... many thanks to you...
:-)

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Lyn,
I'm sure if you can get there are start looking around a bit, that you'll find everything we did, and no doubt alot more, as we barely scratched the surface...

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Hey Nathalie !

Many many thanks ! We'll have to look into opening up a tourist shop... promoting these places...

It was great to get away for a while, but good to be back now, and back to blogging...
:-)

Tom Bejgrowicz said...

Ugh… Those nasty looking sunsets, trees, warm beaches and water give me the creeps. They are anything but calming, lovely and awe-inspiring. Utterly horrible, right?!?! Anyway, I'm glad you made it through the last couple of weeks, which surely must have been tough. (laughs)

Marguerite said...

Bonjour mon cher amis! What a blast! So happy that you had a bon ton'! Everything is beautiful and it looks like such a fun adventure! Welcome back, cher! :)

Owen said...

Tom, you've put the finger right on it ! In fact I'm a profoundly deranged masochist, and forcing myself and family to endure, to suffer through such terrible trials as hiking beautiful scenery and reclining on golden beaches in the shade of coconut palms for two weeks was simply another expression of this dreadful illness that I could not possibly evade or postpone... it was inevitable, and I assure you, an excruciatingly painful experience that I wouldn't wish on anyone !
(chortles...)

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Hi Marguerite,
Was thinking of you in cajun territory where spicy food is customary, as on Reunion Island they also love "piment", the hotter the better, in many dishes... We had to be very careful not to get our mouths scorched... Many thanks and hope all is well with you !
:-)

Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

Owen -- thanks for the tip on the Dead connections in your blog! I will be around to check things out! :)

Peace!
Karin

ladydi said...

Oh, it must have been hard to leave that paradise to return to work and winter. Your daughter has her own shop on the island?? Your sky photos are stunning. Welcome back, we missed you.

Sylvie de said...

Entre le béton, le gris et la pluie de Beyrouth, j'ai oublié que le paradis existe quand même... tes photos sont comme un bain chaud lorsque l'on rentre à la maison trempé et glacé, elles sont comme une énorme vague de soleil et de bonheur au coeur tout gris de l'hiver. Mais saurais-tu me dire pourquoi nous avons tant besoin de cocotiers et de palmes bercées par le vent ? de mer bleue et de sable blanc ? gros bizouxxx de ta Bell's