This blog on New Caledonia is for those of you who ever wondered what life on a tiny island in the South Pacific might be like. Tired of bracing winter winds, the stress of an inner city or simply dreaming of a life change? This is a blog about what happens when, in the words of Yogi Berra, "you come to a fork in the road, [and] take it".

30 June 2006

Alternative Sleeping Arrangements in Nouméa

Photo by Laurent Guiader, 2006.
Does swaying in a hammock on a South Pacific island tempt you in times of stress? Here in New Caledonia we have hammocks of all shapes, sizes and colours. Pablo's life is far from terribly stressful (apart from when his mother jumps and shouts when France scores a goal in the World Cup). To combat boredom with sleeping in a crib, Pablo also sleeps outside in his hammock, as pictured above. Oh to be a baby. Oh to have a hammock. Oh to live on an island in the South Pacific!

21 June 2006

Sounds Pablo Hears in New Caledonia

As Pablo and I were walking on the seaside promenade one morning this week, I started thinking about what life must sound like to him (and how it must differ for children growing up in Paris, as Sophie did). Here are the sounds I think he hears, in chronological order:
  1. Mother singing "Good Morning, Good Morning" in her best Debbie Reynolds voice.
  2. Deafening birdsong.
  3. Doors opening and closing. Screen door being pulled to.
  4. Toilet flushing.
  5. Flip-flops on the tile.
  6. Cereal pouring, toast toasting, coffee brewing, fridge opening and closing.
  7. Water running.
  8. Dishes clanking.
  9. Sing-song voice of mother showing him the world.
  10. His own grunting, cooing, squealing, shouting and crying.
  11. Sophie's "You're Going to Live, Pablo" voice.
  12. Laughter.
  13. Diaper being unscratched.
  14. Snaps being snapped.
  15. Kisses in ears.
  16. Music: Mozart, Vivaldi, Bach and lullabies.
  17. Washing machine filling and shaking. \Car engine.
  18. Waves gently crashing.
  19. Palms rustling.
  20. Wind.
  21. Rain.
  22. Cars driving by, motorcycles too.
  23. Voices, quiet voices.
  24. Footsteps, wheels turning.
  25. Cat meowing.
  26. Cat food being poured.
  27. Music on the mobile, music in the play gym.
  28. Windows log-on jingle, skype jingle.
  29. Typing.
  30. Drawers opening and closing.
  31. Voices from far away.
  32. Drum sticks being gathered up, drum pads being tapped.
  33. Bath running.
  34. Water splashing.
  35. Papa's deep happy voice.
  36. Bottle caps being unscrewed.
  37. Pump pumping.
  38. Pots and pans being pulled out, put away.
  39. Phone ringing.
  40. Football being commentated on the TV.
  41. Low voices talking about the world.
  42. Pages being turned.
  43. Lights being switched off (and on).
I've been told that it is very quiet here. Maybe it doesn't "sound" like it, but I assure you it is. Think about all the different sounds you hear every day, wherever you are. Do you have only 43?

11 June 2006

Nouméa's Neighbourhoods

There are many neighbourhoods or quartiers in Nouméa (as you can see on the map of Nouméa's neighbourhoods, above), but everything looks further away than it is. We spend most of our time in the Artillerie Nord, Centre ville, Quartier Latin parts of town as well as Orphelinat, Receiving (named as such along with "Motor Pool" following the Americans' stay during World War II), Baie des Citrons and Anse Vata. But, for example, it only took us 15 minutes to get from Artillerie Nord to Ouémo this last Saturday.

For an interactive map (in French) of Nouméa, I would recommend and for beautiful aerial shots, Google Earth.

Though the map of Nouméa may look large, the city itself is very manageable. The only public transport system it has is bus and there are two lines, I believe. We get around by car and by foot quite easily - though driving can be an adventure. Drunk driving is a bit of a problem here, and many drive without insurance, but apart from these two downsides, driving in Nouméa is rather pleasant.

03 June 2006

Secretariat of the Pacific Community

Photo by Laurent Guiader, 2005.

Have you ever dreamed of working for an international organisation in the South Pacific? Have you heard of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)? A bilingual (English/French) organisation, the SPC works on a variety of issues that concern its 22 member countries and territories, including land resources, marine resources and social resources. Its mission is to help Pacific Island people make and implement informed decisions about their future. Called the mini-United Nations of the South Pacific, the SPC's work programmes aim to develop technical assistance; professional, scientific and research support; and planning and management capability building. The SPC regularly posts job vacancies on its website at and is located right on the water on the beautiful Anse Vata in Nouméa.

For all my Paris OECD readers, tempted?