We asked around- no-one knew much about it, no-one had ever been there. So, obviously, we had to go! Whilst I love to revisit familiar places (we go to the same camping spot each year)- we also adore exploring new countries and cultures. I'm one of those embarrassing mothers who talks to strangers, I love to hear peoples' stories- what makes them tick.
|John the tour guide and local ladies|
I’m not sure what I was expecting- but we were very pleasantly surprised by the successful mix of european/ Kanak (indigenous)influences. After a lot of quite recent (1980s-90s) unrest things have settled down politically and there was a definite feeling of harmony. Colonised by France it has a real mix of French flair and pacific laissez-faire, all with a lovely French accent and gallic shrug.
|Award winning Tjibaou centre|
I had two must-dos on my list: 1) No internet (for me) for the week so I could have total relaxation and read my too-large stash of books; and 2) I wanted to see turtles. The islands are surrounded by one of the world’s largest lagoons where, so I’d read, turtles happily laze away their days.
|at the museum|
So I decided to work on item 2. Turtles. The weather at the start of our holiday was gorgeous-a lovely thick heat that thawed our bodies and fed us great hope for a fabulous holiday. We poured over our dive/snorkel brochures and planned our boat trip for the middle of the week.
We managed to fill our days. We took a tour out into the bush and ate a fabulous lunch of organic roasted venison with papaya salad at a restaurant owned by a woman with 24 kids!! (Some are adopted.) We met lots of friendly people, visited three museums, the amazing Tjibaou centre (designed by Renzo Piano who designed the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the new Shard in London) and great zoological gardens where we saw the cagou- the New Caledonian flightless bird.
Then! We found the aquarium. Coral…yeah. Fish….check. Sharks…yeah. TURTLES! Well- turtle. I saw one. One. But it was just too gorgeous for words.
|music is a common language|
In the end it didn’t matter that the sun didn’t shine, we laughed and ate our way around and spent some lovely quality time with each other. Don’t be surprised if my next hero’s french, or the setting’s in New Caledonia- it certainly left an impression! [If anyone’s interested- I’m not sure I’d take the kids again- they had a great time, and would have been in heaven if they could have swam or snorkelled- but the prices for other activities/food/tours meant that we were conscious always of how expensive everything is there.]
So-what do you like to do? Stick to holidaying in the familiar or trying places a little off the beaten track?