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".

29 January 2006

My Wish for the Chinese New Year

In the words of Philip Pullman, "I think we should act as if. I think we should read books, and tell children stories, and take them to the theatre, and learn poems, and play music, as if it would make a difference ... We should act as if the universe were listening to us and responding. We should act as if life were going to win ..."
Photo (taken at the Ile des Pins) by Laurent Guiader, 2005.

28 January 2006

A New Year's Activities and Ruminations

Photo (taken at Phare Amédée) by Laurent Guiader, 2006.

January has been a busy month.

In a nutshell, Sophie has been in Europe (London and Paris), visiting friends and family. I think the cold nearly killed her, but with the purchase of a huge furry coat, a jacket and various sweaters, it looks like she'll warm up in time to return to sunny Nouméa later this week.

Laurent returned to work after a few days off at Christmas/New Year's. He has resumed his early-morning rise of 5.00 to run three days a week, and the rest of the time he starts at 7.00. He has been studying English more and more often and is busy mastering the likes of MSN and Skype. He's also been building a database in Access, but having pushed a wrong button somewhere along the line, is now stuck and mightily frustrated. Will he have to start all over?

He and I have had friends over for drinks and dinner a couple of times. We've visited the Rivière Bleue and the Phare Amédée, have swum with deadly sea snakes, trekked through New Caledonia's outback and even spent an entire rainy weekend in working.

As for me, I have resumed my usual work schedule and have been writing a little more often. I've been wracking my brain for good ideas and good presentation, and have found these come best after a short nap (Einstein was right again - we can't solve a problem in the same state we created it in). I have been researching a few topics, have finished reading a few books and back issues of The New Yorker, and have been catching up on a few long overdue e-mails.

Of late, I've been thinking a fair amount about the invasion of Iraq - and was surprised to learn recently that as of December 2005, over 2,100 Americans had been killed. This did not surprise me. What did was the number of Iraqis killed since the American arrival (well, between January 2004 and September 2005): 26,000. This number does not include the Iraqis killed by Americans - it represents the Iraqis killed by insurgents (see the acticle on the Afghan-born American Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalizad, in the 19 December issue of the New Yorker: "American Viceroy"). Many of us were dead-set against the invasion - can those responsible for going in really think they have done the right thing?

13 January 2006

Nothing Like a Bouquet of Tropical Flowers

Though flowers are aplenty in New Caledonia, florists do not appear to be. I was used to a florist (and a pharmacy and a bakery) on nearly every corner in Paris and spent many a long empty moment staring at the colours and the textures of various bouquets. Here the bouquets are all the more fun to gaze at - as birds of paradise and lilies are part and parcel of the natural landscape.
Photo by Laurent Guiader, 2005.

Right, a photo of the bouquet Laurent had delivered back in November for my birthday, and a peek at our furnishings in our little villa in Nouméa (for those of you who have requested more photos of our daily surrounds!).

09 January 2006

About This Blog: What's Working?

I've created this blog for you. How is it working out? Are you finding photos or articles that interest you?

Photo by L. Guiader, 2005.

What would you like to see more of?

  • More photos
  • More description of the history, geography, population, politics in New Caledonia
  • More information about daily life in New Caledonia
  • More links to other sites about New Caledonia
  • More information about the blog's main characters

What would like to see less of?

  • Fewer photos, please
  • Shorter descriptions
  • Less personal commentary
  • Fewer facts about New Caledonia

Finally, how is the frequency?

  • Would you like more posts, more often?
  • Fewer posts, less often?

Feel free to comment here (by clicking on "comments" below) or send me a note regarding these questions. Your input will help me know what you are most interested in - and will make the blog all the better.

Many thanks to all of you who have already sent in comments/feedback!

08 January 2006

An Online Travel Guide for New Caledonia

Considering planning a trip to New Caledonia? "South Pacific Organiser", a handy little site at, with author David Stanley, is well organised and sets out very helpful information about New Caledonia on:

  • Fast Facts
  • The Land
  • Weather
  • Flora & Fauna
  • Dateline
  • Highlights
  • Activities
  • Public Holidays
  • Events
  • Practicalities
  • Getting There
  • Getting Around

05 January 2006

New Caledonia's Mont-Dore: Fire Reduced to Embers

Some of you have written to say that you have been watching New Caledonia in the news. 'Tis true, until recently, our Mont-Dore (Gold Mountain, so named as traces of gold were first found there) was burning for days between Christmas and New Year's. Thanks to two helicopters sent in from Australia, and firefighters flown in from France, the fire was hastily beaten down earlier this week. Small fires threaten to grow, but for the moment, things appear to be under control. Mont-Dore is just outside Nouméa and until yesterday we could see it burning in the distance.
Photo by Laurent Guiader, 2005.