Monday, April 03, 2006

New Caledonia Photos - Mare Island

My final stop in the Loyalty Islands was Mare, the smallest and most isolated. It was by far the most difficult for hitchhiking, and after my plane landed I was worried I would have to walk all night to get to my campsite. Fortunately a truck owned by the Mormon missionaries came by and I jumped aboard. Once again I was the only tourist, but it was cool to live with a Kanak family and see how they live. I don't think I'll ever figure out their primary school schedule, it seems like they go maybe 3 days a week, and whenever they don't feel like having school, they just cancel. A very different pace of life from anything I've seen, thats for sure.

Here is my own private beach. It took about an hour to reach, and as far as I could tell no one had been on that beach in years, as the reef was too dangerous for fishing, and there were no fruit trees to pick. So I claimed it as my own.

Joseph, my gracious host, brought this turtle up from the beach one night after he was done spearfishing. Don't worry, he was released unharmed back into the ocean, but believe me he weighed a ton.

La Rousette, or flying fox to us anglophones. That is the little hand reaching for my knife from beyond the grave...needless to say, it was every bit as disgusting as it looks, and sounds.

Here is my Mare campsite, which was actually the first time I slept in the hammock between two coconut trees. It worked great, although it was a little disconcerting listening to the skull-cracking thud of falling coconuts during the night, but definitely worth it.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

New Caledonia Photos part deux

On Lifou, in the Loyalty Islands. This is Le Grotte de la Joyeux Luengoni.

Below is the inside of the cave. A French nature TV show did an episode on the cave, and made the local tour guide, Noel Pia, something of a celebrity. They dived to the bottom of the underground lake, which went down 150 metres.

Here is the view from Chez Noel Pia. This is the place where I was abandoned at night by the owner. I think the French nature show could have done an episode on the insect life inside the bathrooms of the guesthouse. It was hands down the most squalid place I've ever stayed at.

Ma Famille Francais, with whom I did the cave tour with Noel (in the middle).

New Caledonia Photos

Now that I'm back to reality and proper internet connection, I'm going to start uploading some of my photos, beginning with New Cal.

Ouvea, in the Loyalty Islands. Thats right doggie, 25 km of beach, and not a single person on it. Not even another set of footprints to be found.

The southern tip of Ouvea, a protected lagoon where you can see dolphins, turtles, tunas the size of small whales, and occasional volcanic debris floating down from Vanuatu.

The one daily activity for Kanak (indigenous New Caledonians) men. I once asked them where all the woman were, and the guys patiently explained that the women all had to work, and thats why they could never play volleyball or sit on the beach until midnight, drinking wine out of boxes, as all the men do.

Some of my rasta friends on Ouvea. They were extremely friendly people, even though I didn't speak very good French and they didn't speak any English, we managed to have some laughs.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The (premature) end

I'm sad to inform you, Constant Reader, that this will be the last post of my trip. I've just been in Vanuatu for a week, and after spending 5 days on Tanna island, sleeping next to an active volcano and all sorts of fun stuff, I came back to "civilization"/Port Vila, the capital, and upon opening my email received some very sad news from home. So I'm heading back to Vancouver, as quick as possible, which will probably see me returning on Sunday. I'm going to make the most of my few days here, and get a couple more dives in, visit the Survivor beach here in Vanuatu, and maybe do some more surfing in Fiji. When I get home, I'll have all the time and bandwidth I need to post my photos here for all to see and (hopefully) enjoy.

So until I'm back in the Great White North,


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Sacré bleu! In New Caledonia

Within an hour of arriving in Noumea, I realised that this would be my worst encounter with the language barrier. Nobody here speaks english. Even in the tourist industry, they speak French first, then Japanese. But I feel pretty good now, having spent the past 10 days in the outer islands and speaking at most 2 hours worth of english in that time. When I arrived, I understood about 5% of what was said to me, and now its up to about 25%.
But its totally worth the hardship. This country is absolutely beautiful, and, I might add, the French Caledonians are the most beautiful girls I have ever seen in one place. It is quite lonely though. For all of those 10 days in the islands, I didn't once have any other guests at the same hostel or campsite. That was a streak of 5 different hotels, on 3 different islands, all totally deserted. At one place the owner even left at night, and I was completely by myself, excluding the local stray dogs. But it was all about the experiences: last night I sampled a local delicacy, le rousette, which is french for bat. And believe me, it was definitely a bat. They left all the skin on, the little claws on the wings, and all the innards intact. Surprisingly there's not a lot of meat on a bat, and so today, being back in the capital Noumea, I felt compelled to have a little comfort food at McDonalds.
I'll try to get some pictures up before i leave, but the internet, like everything else in this country, is very expensive. I'll be off to Vanuatu on Sunday.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Leaving Fiji

Well, this is my last day in Fiji. I've had an awesome time, everywhere I went. But alas, it is time to move on. I'm flying to New Caledonia in 5 hours, so time to brush up on my french...It will be nice to stay somewhere with electricity, i'm pretty sure going without power for 10 days is a new personal best.
Now that I'm back in civilization so to speak, i'll put up some more photos.

Here is Jone, our multi-talented hotel manager, running his side business of tattooing. He made his tattoo gun himself, using a pen, wire, and a motor from a remote control car.

Here is our boatman on the way to Naiehehe cave, hard at work.

I think the shirt says it all...Fijian to the bone.

Here I am on top of the Siatoka Sand dunes, doiny my best to pretend i'm a surfer :P As you can see, the weather hasn't been the greatest lately.

Until next time, au revoir (thats french for goodbye)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Club Masa

Yesterday we went up the Sigatoka valley into the heart of Fiji. It was a long, slow 2 hour bus ride through the mountains. It was worth it though, just to see 3 Fiji cops riding the bus to get to a crime scene. Only in Fiji.
Once we made it to this tiny little village, we took a boat across to get to this cave. Now when I heard boat, I assumed something with an engine, or at the very least oars or poles to propel us across the Sigatoka River. No dice. Instead, a Fijian guy got into the water, up to his neck, and pushed the boat as he walked across the river. It ended up taking about 15 mins to cross a 4 meter wide river. Once across we trekked for about an hour to get to the Naihehe cave, and a local chief took us through and told us all the traditions of the cave. All in all it was a great trip, and a good excuse to take a break from surfing and let my sunburn heal. Photos to follow, having some trouble with the internet here.

Friday, February 17, 2006


After a quick but costly two-night stay at Rendezvous, I've moved to an awesome little spot called Club Masa, right by the only beach break in Fiji and the best place to learn how to surf. It is very....rustic, as it has just re-opened after the generator blew up, so no phones, no lights, or electricity, not a single luxury, like Robinson Crusoe, as primitive as can be. Literally. But it is a blast, and the local boys are great teachers. I won't say I'm a great student, but I'm determined to stand up before I leave Fiji on the 25th. Unfortunately my camera battery is dead, and it might be a while before I can recharge it, but I'll have more photos soon.