Thursday, October 2, 2014

Noumea Town

We sat in the hot sun this morning and practiced our French with a small group of school kids, while we waited for everyone to arrive. Sunscreen, mosquito repellant, selfies, snacks…. Seems to be the modus-operandi first thing in the morning.

We headed off to Anse Vata in the local bus. While the kids explored the shops, we adults sat and had coffee, a milo milkshake and pain au chocolat, before we walked along the shore towards the Aquarium.

It was interesting to see so many tropical fish in the Aquarium, and to recognize some of the fish that were seen while snorkelling at Duck Island and on the glass-bottomed boat tour at La Pare Armadee. The Turtle pool was the definite favourite with everyone, and it helped that they had shaded seating, so while resting and being entertained by about 5 turtles, we were lucky enough to still be there when the staff came to feed them.

After the Aquarium we wandered next door to have lunch at Quick. Quick is a French fast food restaurant, very similar to McDonalds, but definitely not quick!

We then walked around to the Bay de Citreon for a swim and a relaxing afternoon. It’s quite a busy place with shops and restaurants across the road, and there were many people sunbathing and swimming. Some of our girls swam out to the pontoon anchored a little ways off the beach.

I think the highlight of today was the Le Choo choo train tour around Noumea.

We all crammed into the back carriage, leaving the front two empty. Our guide was a lady named Lida, who we recognized straight away because she had been helping the other day at La Phare Amedee. She has a very distinctive voice, an American accent, although we later found out that she is originally from The Netherlands.

She gave us an interesting talk about the history of the island, pointing out important landmarks. The Americans, it seems, have had a big influence here, building 5 hospitals, after they occupied New Caledonia during WW2.  Lida and the train driver took us up to the top of a hill so we could look out over the city and all the way over to the Lighthouse island.

There were canons up there that the Americans had used during the war. On the way back, Lida took us through the old French colonial part of Noumea, with their pretty houses and colourful exteriors and the shuttered windows. Because there was no glass available for windows at the time they were built, the shutters were practical for their ventilation as well as protection.

Lida wanted to show us her favourite building. I think she is quite passionate about it, as she wanted to walk us all the way around us to show the graffiti art that the young people of Noumea had done on the building. It is a day once a year that they all come up there and express themselves in this art form.

From Rosa Parks to Amy Winehouse, it was quite impressive and as Lida said, all done from spray cans. It was a lonely place though and we found an area around the back where someone had made a home behind the iron gates.

From here we drove back into the center of town to catch the bus back to school. Tomorrow the kids will spend most of the day at the school puttin ghteir presentation together and in the afternoon join in some sporting games and activities.

Sunset at Bay de Citreon.

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