Fly Down Under & Cruise Back Up - Spring 2018 travel blog

 

local beauty

bike ride

 

 

water snake

 

 

 

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When Captain Cook sailed by here (there doesn’t seem to be an island that he missed), he named the island group New Caledonia. Why he thought of Caledonia which is in Scotland while he was looking at palm trees is a mystery to me, but perhaps the man was getting homesick on his four year voyage. We docked in Noumea, which is the capital of the country and has 40% of the population of 300,000. The New Caledonia island group belongs to France, for whom they must be a huge financial drain. There is a major referendum scheduled here in November regarding the question of independence. Everyone would theoretically like to have independence and be in charge of their own fate, but it’s hard to imagine how this remote spot could make it on their own despite significant deposits of nickel which are being mined here today. The local tribes speak Kanak and French is the second common language.

When I checked the weather report for Noumea last night, I was disappointed to see 100% chance of rain throughout the whole day, It was gloomy and cloudy looking all day, but the rain was mostly little spritzes, which were easy to ignore in the warm temperature even on our bike ride tour. We felt lucky to get on the tour since there were only seven of us and we rode mostly paved bike trail around inlets and coves. The views would have been a lot better in bright sunshine, but it is what it is. As we stood on a cliff overlooking the beach, our guide spotted a water snake. “Is it poisonous?” I asked naively. “Of course,” he answered. It didn’t look happy being up on the cliff instead of in the water where it belongs, but none of us rendered assistance.

After the ride we wandered around the town, which was underwhelming to say the least. RCL brings ships here regularly from Sydney, but the tourist infrastructure was meagre. I think people come here for the beaches and snorkeling. New Caledonia seems to have a huge mix of cultures from Africans to Polynesians to people who look like us. There were a lot of locals lounging around all over town, doing not much of anything. Many of the storefronts were empty. The baguettes looked good…

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