October 16, 2008 – Noumea, New Caledonia
More heat, more tropical breezes, more humidity. In Noumea I was weary of stop-and-go port hopping.
Gordon and Fiona joined us again, and we hopped a van for a two-hour “country tour” of Noumea. When I look at the day’s photos, I see how beautiful it was. But the cramped van and inexperienced guide made the small investment ($25 each) seem a waste of time and money.
Plus I’m learning quickly that tropical heat is not a good match for someone who’s spent her life in cooler climes. Guess I’ll have to re-think visions of doing volunteer work in some exotic hotspot.
By the time the van dropped us off at Place des Cocotiers, Noumea’s city centre square (rectangle really – one block by four blocks), Robin rightly saw that I was not a happy traveler.
We made a quick stop at the visitor centre, where friendly staff pointed us toward a nearby pub, Le Bilboquet. A cold “Pression Number One” (aka draft beer), accompanied by the standard Noumea dish of olives, plus slices of fresh baguette to sop up the savoury sauce, and my spirits were restored.
Checking e-mails and uploading the blog were next on the list. Our waiter pointed us in the right direction, and I spent the usual frustrating hour with a slow server. This trip is reminding me what a wonderful luxury our fast line back home has been.
We returned to the ship in late afternoon and were happy to just relax in our floating home. The best part of the day for me was realizing how quickly I’d be able to pick up French again. Over half of Noumeans are French expatriates – much easier for me to understand than our own French-speaking people back home.