£10 Phonecard made all the difference

Throughout my time here I have been fortunate enough to meet some super nice people and have met some extremely generous and helpful people along the way.

I thought I’d give an update on one of those people:

The St. Denis Reunion Shopkeeper.

I’m not sure if I told this story on the blog before (well, I’m sure I did, but I want to re-tell it because I feel like typing right now).

A long, long time ago (not really but it sure feels like it!!) I was travelling to Tamatave my first time. And, I had a bit of a blip. Now – in the grand scheme of a 15,000km travel – this was an extremely small blip – but it didn’t feel like it at the time.

In the Paris airport lounge, I took my anti-malarial medication. The medication directions specify: TAKE WITH FOOD.

Now…I wasn’t that hungry, it was really like… 4h00 for me (and I hadn’t been drinking so I didn’t have the “lets hit up the Denny’s ‘cause we’re drunk and want pancakes” kind of feeling), so I had about a half of a banana and an latte. I thought..well, that’s food, right? The directions should specify: TAKE WITH A SUBSTANTIAL MEAL, because I boarded the plane about twenty or thirty minutes later and got SICK. I start sweating PROFUSELY, was on the verge of puking (and didn’t have my bowl J, love you GP), was having horrible stomach cramps, and I start shaking and got wobbly. I try to communicate my ….problem to the flight attendant – but they are in their seatbelts since we are actually in the process of taking off. A few minutes later, they tell me that they can help me to the toilet. During which, I projectile vomit – but they refuse to shut the door because they are worried about me. I saw myself in the mirror – it wasn’t a pretty picture. After projectile vomiting subsides, the flight attendants basically drag me back to my seat, I feel absolutely horrible, but I keep telling them why I’m sick. As soon as I tell they I didn’t eat enough and I took Malarone – they started to relax (since I think they were worried that they had an H1N1 victim on their flight).

They sat me back down on my flight, brought me some water, and starting taking my temperature and blood pressure like every hour. Talk about airline service!! After about two hours my discomfort started to settle down and I thought I should try to eat something. They brought out supper. The appetizer was fois gras. For the non-foodies and non French people – that is duck liver. Um… not going to help my situation. So I asked for a piece of bread and then passed out – only to be woken up as they changed my cold cloth and check my temperature and blood pressure. Seriously – Air Austral rocks.

10 hours later, I arrive in Reunion feeling pretty okay, but also feeling like I NEED TO CALL HOME. ASAP. But – my credit card don’t work in the phone machine. I don’t know why. I walk to this little shop – and he doesn’t take credit cards. I tell him I have Canadian dollars (worthless to him) and Airirary (worthless to everyone). The look on my face must have said it all – because he said, look – here is a phone card. Use it, call home, and then tell me the balance when you are finished. He just gave me the card. I was so incredibly happy I nearly started crying. I called a few people, talked about projectile vomiting and totally started to feel better and comforted. I had to be in that airport for seven hours and I would not have made it had I didn’t have those few phone calls.

It was one of my major priorities to pay this guy back for this phone card. Before I left Tamatave, I made a point to get some Euros so that I could pay this guy back. When I was in the airport last week, I went up to him and reminded him who I was and I said, I came here to pay you back for the card that you so graciously gave to me. He refused. I insisted. He said, look now, you are going to make me angry! I’m not taking your money. Just think the next person that comes in here like you will be able to use the balance of the card.

And that was that. and again, I was so touched I thought I would cry.

So – if you are ever in reunion airport – stop by this little shop and buy something. Its ran by the sweetest old man who has a very big heart. I’m thinking of bringing him a souvenir from Madagascar just again in thanks and to let him know that I still think of that one day. It was a simple £10 phone card – but it helped me so, so much.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. the shopkeeper knows that you will pay it forward and I am sure you will. nice to know there are so many kind people in this world.

  3. we will make sure to send you a special bowl next time you come home ;)


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