Baguettes and Brie
14 November 2009 | Noumea, New Caledonia
We've been at Port Moselle Marina in Noumea for about a week now- we left Isle Uere last Monday and were tied up on the Visitor's dock just over an hour later. Check in was easy- I gave up my onions and garlic to the quarantine guy and customs didn't even visit the boat.
New Caledonia's population is made up of about 45% Melanesians with the remainder being mostly European. All New Caledonians are French citizens so the official language here is, of course, French. Meaning my high-school French is getting stretched to the limit. Everyone is friendly enough when you make the effort, though.
Noumea, the capital city, is a fairly bustling town. Not particularly clean- too much graffiti unfortunately- but with a definite cosmopolitan flair which I'm sure is due to it's French influence.
By the way, what is it about French people? They all look so darn stylish all the time. And slim! A cruise ship from Australia was here the other day and it wasn't difficult to tell who were the tourists and who were the French locals... it was all about girth. (And I'm not slamming the Aussies here, it could just as easily have been an American or New Zealand cruise ship.) I just don't get it because I've been here a week and already my pants are getting tighter, what with all the wine, baguettes and brie I'm consuming. But that's what they eat, too- isn't it? So what gives? (Besides my waistband) I've had a week to puzzle it out and my theory is it's all about the nicotine. Boy they love their cigarettes here! And maybe they're not actually eating the baguettes and brie themselves. They just sell them all over the place so they can sit back in their cafés with a glass of wine and a ciggy, feeling superior as they watch fat tourists waddle by.
But I digress...
We have been enjoying ourselves here in Port Moselle. The day we arrived we noticed huge tents erected in the parking lot of the marina. The circus was in town! Of course John's and my first reaction was "Oh, thanks a lot!!" But then we took off our curmudgeon hats and decided that maybe we should take the girls to their first circus. It was no Barnum and Bailey's but it was "The Magic Circus of Samoa"! No animal acts- thank goodness- but lots of fun acrobatics, clowns, trapeze and the de riguer motorcycles in a metal sphere... known here in New Cal as the "Globe de la Mort!"
There's a huge outdoor market nearby, in the mornings they have the most amazing array of gorgeous fresh produce. And since John and I discovered a perfect "boulangerie" a few blocks away it's no more grocery-store baguettes for our daily fix. For the brie and wine (and okay, cereal, milk, and eggs too) there's a large, clean grocery store that's about a 20 minute walk away. (Good for burning off those French calories!)
Today we visited the L'aquarium des Lagons, Noumea's impressive new aquarium. Built in 2007 it has beautiful exhibits showcasing the colorful marine life that exists in the lagoons and rivers of New Caledonia.
Our plan at this point is to wait for an appropriate weather window (have I said that before?) to make the passage to New Zealand.... In the meantime; more baguettes!