…arse-all happens in New Caledonia.
It’s cold like?
And this winter has seemed especially so, largely I think, due to the fact that we have now truly become acclimatised and so it actually feels like ‘winter’.
When we first arrived, Phil and I used to laugh at the locals who, following a temperature drop below 25°C, would don fur lined parkers and woolly hats. 22°C is practically a heat wave in the UK. How could that ever be considered coat weather?
Well, now it seems to be.
Granted, I haven’t quite gone that far, but there certainly have been days over the past few months when I have yelped at a temperature drop below 20° and quickly dug out my furry boots, socks, jumper, scarf and hoody and decided that impromptu baking was in order, largely so I could turn on and huddle around the oven…
…Yes, it has got that bad. I am a complete and utter southern-hemisphere pansy who hasn’t swum in the sea since May because frankly, goose-bumps are just sooo unflattering…
We even got proper colds. For the first time in 3 years. Sore-throaty, sniffly colds. We were pretty pathetic. And when you are feeling pathetic, your willingness to be adventurous takes somewhat of a nose dive. And so then, much of this winter, when Phil has actually been here (this year he has had somewhat of a punishing travel schedule) has been spent huddled up on the sofa under a blanket, which, let’s face it, doesn’t really make gripping blog content.
Indeed, I worked out recently that I:
1) haven’t left New Caledonia since our trip to the UK over Christmas (vs. Phil’s 14 weeks AWOL) and also (more alarmingly) that
2) I hadn’t actually left the city of Noumea since our holiday back in June.
Cabin fever had most certainly set in.
Now don’t get me wrong, our holiday was pretty epic, in 10 days we travelled up to the most northerly point of New Caledonia, scaling epic mountains, crossing savannas and finding ourselves on secluded beaches surrounded by wild horses, but after 3 months of small-town city life, it seemed like a lifetime ago.
This is not to say that absolutely nothing happened in the last 3 months, but just none of it was very memorable, or indeed bloggable. As I said, not much happens in the Pacific in winter.
The one major exception was that the organisation that Phil works for celebrated a big birthday which gave us an excuse to dress up and dine with no less than 8 heads of state. Cue 3 days of watching police escorts whizz up and down the road next to our house and play guess the dignitary / name the flag. Basically the Olympics opening ceremony game, but with just the ones you didn’t know….
This is a picture of me (Drunk? Moi? Nooo?) at the said event with an old work colleague. The funny thing is that the man in the background with the microphone. He is the deputy prime minister of Samoa. He is singing Mustang Sally. It was a rather bizarre evening.
He is singing Mustang Sally. It was a rather bizarre evening.
It was a rather bizarre evening.
So, I digress, cabin fever had set in. I was getting stroppy so I decided to get up off my arse and solve the problem.
Firstly I got my friend Karen on board and we started project explore, opting for walks about 30 minutes out of the city to the river at Dumbea, an area of dramatic mountains bordering deep clear blue water holes and rivers. We walked, came home and drunk a bottle of wine because it’s the tropics and it is perfectly acceptable to drink at 4pm when the sun shines.
Buoyed but these micro-adventures, I had a thirst for more. Phil returned from another trip away and we had a heart to heart. The outcome of this talk was that for further adventures we needed new wheels.
Let’s just say that Phil is no longer allowed to mention that he wants to buy a boat.
So let me introduce you to **Norbert** (name pending approval) our very shiny new car.
We decided to break Norbert in by taking him on a trip to the very far South of New Caledonia, which happily means that this winter, we have been to both the Northern and Southernmost points of New Cal. June-September is whale season in New Caledonia so we ventured in the vain hope that we might see some whale action in the very far distance.
Alas, whales were not seen (although we did spot boats that were obviously spotting whales) but the scenery was pretty spectacular, we had a walk and Norbert got taken through his paces with both Hill and 4×4 modes being active, fords being crossed and very narrowed bridges being negotiated. He also got the traditional coating of orange dust that sticks to everything South of Noumea which Phil spent an hour loving cleaning off on our return.
So what next then?
Well the big news is that I have finished my second year of teaching, and as summer rapidly approaches we are patiently waiting to see if both of our contracts will get renewed, allowing us to extend our stay in New Caledonia past the initial 3 years (jeez this has come around quick, I can remember swearing that we were going for 1 year only).
Until we know our fate, we have largely been ignoring all major life decisions until we know what hemisphere we will be residing in. But for the short term, as the days get warmer, and I no longer have to go to work, we have lots of adventures planned and are hopefully making up for lost time.
Next weekend we are heading North to Fort Teremba for New Caledonia’s one and only music festival where we are going to see….wait for it…. THE DANDY WARHOLS!
Yes, a band that I have actually heard of are headlining a festival here. Phil and I are both pretty excited. This will be my first music festival ever that I camp at, but hoping that the fact there will be less than 1000 people there will mean that I won’t be too overwhelmed…
We then get 4 days in Noumea to recover and we are off again, this time for a proper holiday where I will actually leave New Caledonia! We are off to Vanuatu for 10 days, too (hopefully) stare into volcanoes, snorkel in blue holes and island hop Ni-van style. Again, I cannot wait.
HURRAH FOR SUMMER!