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".

28 October 2007

Horseback Riding in New Caledonia

Little did we know, one can (and should) go horseriding in New Caledonia. The terrain and the weather are perfect for it - and there are clubs for all levels. Plus, New Caledonia has what is left of the real outback cowboys, or so it seems to me.

Our last weekend in New Caledonia, we indeed went horseback riding - at Yala Ranch in Dumbea, just outside Noumea.

I had been up on a horse once or twice at school when I was younger and had been traumatised (as I am wont to do by anything bigger or faster than myself). Laurent had ridden a few times before.

Yala Ranch turned out to be the perfect place to go. We spent a couple of hours on the horses, riding through the river, climbing a gentle hill, getting a lay of the land. The guides were very friendly and reassuring - and though Laurent was nearly thrown (he loves to tease the horses), I managed to stay on my horse.

There are several options for horseriding in New Caledonia. I would encourage you to give it a try - for those days when it feels a little too cool (under 20 degrees) to go scuba diving.

26 October 2007

Kitesurfing Season in New Caledonia

Now is about the time of year when one sees a million and one kitesurfers in Noumea (right next to the Meridien Hotel). This video was shot in 2005 by Laurent Guiader, the year we stumbled on an International Kitesurfing Competition.

Watching this makes me want to take the next flight to Noumea, whether it takes 40 hours to get there or not!

video

21 October 2007

New Caledonian Music Featured on "South Pacific Islands"

For those of you who are wondering what New Caledonian music is like, I'd highly recommend "South Pacific Islands", a Putumayo World Music compilation.

The three New Caledonian songs featured on the CD (Nengone Nodegu, Co Era So, and Watolea) are those you hear frequently on the radio in New Caledonia and they are certain to get you up out of your chair away from your screen, or at least a toe-tapping.

For a snippet of these songs, go to the Amazon site and click on one of the songs under "Listen to Samples".

Added bonus: "Co Era So" is available as a music video on the album: you can get a glimpse of our local culture.

I do recommend buying the CD - not only for the New Caledonian music, but the other music from places like New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. On grey days, no matter where you are, this CD will brighten your day.

*My thanks to Caitlin for sending this to me in Paris ... we listen to it nearly every day!

19 October 2007

Looking to Buy or Sell Something in New Caledonia?

Try one of the various free online classified sites available in New Caledonia. You can buy or sell anything from a car to a boat to a baby bed to a computer. Okay, eBay and Craig's List are still to come to the South Pacific, but these sites proved very helpful to us a few months back:

As the population turns over every couple of years (military rotation), you can often find great deals. Definitely worth a browse, as most things on the island are expensive, purchased new.

Occasionally you will find things described in English, but if you need help translating the French, try any of the available online translators to give you a general gist, e.g. Babelfish.

And for currency conversion, try http://www.xe.com/ucc/

Now, speaking of things for sale in New Caledonia, anyone interested in buying our Peugot 206? :)

16 October 2007

Video: An Afternoon in Noumea

Many people ask me what New Caledonia is really like and are often surprised to learn that we have modern, French hospitals, good schools and a few big supermarkets. Life is not as backward on this little island in the South Pacific as one might think ...

For a snapshot of the New Caledonia's capital, Noumea, watch the 7-minute video below. It captures some of the main sights, shows our views, and even pictures our slums (yes, we do have people who live in wooden shacks). You'll also find pictures from our famous Tjibaou Cultural Center, an architectural marvel.

My thanks to "crankycross" for filming and posting this on YouTube in May, 2007.

14 October 2007

Missing Anse Vata

Photo by Laurent Guiader, 2007.

We miss this, of all places. This is the Anse Vata ... I've written about it several times before on this blog. This is a long stretch of beach in Noumea which is particularly windy, and particularly beautiful - with its turquoise waters, white sands, and green slopes.

Pablo and I used to walk it frequently. Just after he was born, we walked it nearly every day with our friends Caitlin and Dorian. When they moved to La Reunion, we continued to walk it, but less frequently. I occasionally ran along it, and his father ran along it three times a week.

This is where Pablo really learned to walk (I would bring him down here to walk in the sand), this is where I sometimes went at 7 in the morning when Pablo wasn't sleeping, this is where we met friends, and where we often walked on the weekends.

Do we walk as much in Paris? I wish we did, but it is not nearly as warm and inviting in Paris. We are not used to the palava of having to bundle up, dodge other people and pushchairs, or navigate narrow sidewalks. We are not used to the sounds of the buses and cars and beeping horns. But never fear, we do walk, and even find ourselves at the base of the Eiffel Tower, on the Champs de Mars.