Photo of a Moroccan Santa snapped from Saraoni on Christmas day in Agadir, Morocco, 2012.
There has been a lot of soul searching about whether Christmas is worth it in the media recently. Maybe there is every year, but we haven't noticed it as much as this year. Because all of us either endure or enjoy Christmas, whether we like it or not, we thought we might as well add our 5 Pacific francs worth!
What do you do about Christmas when you a) are not a Christian, b) think God is a hoax c) can't stand commercialism, d) have no kids, d) are far away from family or friends, e) are in the southern hemisphere at the hottest time of the year, f) want to get to the shops or get something fixed?
Christmas is sometimes very enjoyable, but at other times it's just a pain in the arse. It's nice to see people giving up their Christmas time
to boost the morale of those at the bottom of the heap, though. It makes up for all the selfish Trumps of this world!
We've done some counting and reckon we have had 40 Christmases together since we first met. The first one was in 1978 in a tent, perched above a small bay in the Coromandel, hidden amongst the manuka. We had bought a chicken to cook in Whitianga, but had no way of cooking it, so ended up swigging our way through a large flagon of red wine instead. Not sure what happened to the chicken.
Some thoughts about those 40 days of Christmas:
• 30 of them we've spent just by ourselves; we have had Christmas with family only three times (in London) and friends 7 times, the most recently with the French /Canadian crew of Arbutus last year.
• We've spent Christmas in 12 different countries;
• The most Christmases have been spent in Australia (10); NZ (9) and PNG (7).
• We spent one Christmas in a cyclone (Thursday Island, 1993)
• The least Christmassy Christmas was spent in Kaş, Turkey, 2009. No sign of a Turkish Santa anywhere! The funny thing was that Saint Nicholas, the Greek guy whose love of kids contributed to the Santa Claus myth, spent almost his entire life in the very next town along the coast
• The most remote Christmas was spent by the Paya River in the Darien Gap, between Colombia and Panama in 1982. We were days away from civilisation in the middle of the jungle. Christmas dinner was a bit skimpy (a handful of nuts and raisins) but we didn't even know it was Christmas! Actually, we didn't even know where we were or whether we would see anyone else ever again!
• The worst Christmas ever was the first of many Christmases we spent in Port Moresby, PNG, in 1988. We had no money, no food and certainly no booze; it was wet and stormy and we were bitten all over by mosquitoes day and night.
The Darien Gap, Christmas 1982!
And as for our Christmas this year, we are in Ouenghi marina. The marina has been busy with French boaties going out to the islands for the Christmas break, but it is quiet today. We were going to go out to an island on the main barrier reef, but the tide was too low in the early morning, so we didn't bother. It's like being on holiday for us here, being able to turn on a water tap and walk ashore whenever we like!
We have drunk all our booze already, except for one bottle of wine, eaten the chicken, and the shops are closed in the nearby village of Boulouparis, so we can't buy any baguettes. Like most days, we have been busy tapping away on the computers making money. Today, it's been a focus on suing U.S. cities for negligence.
The sun is blazing hot in the middle of the day, almost windless, but it cools down nicely at night. Tomorrow we will catch the bus to Parc Riviere Bleue and walk for 4 days through the kaori forest and up through the mountains behind Noumea. If we are lucky, we might see a flightless cagou, the New Caledonian national emblem.
A cagou - there aren't many left - will we see one?
As Christmases go, our 40th is a pretty average one. Happy Christmas everyone!
Saraoni tucked up in Ouenghi marina Christmas Day 2017!