The pool bar is deserted save for the honeymooning Korean couple looking a little bored while they sip their cocktails and make a video. They seem to be the only guests on the island. We’ve snuck ashore to steal some wifi and got distracted by mojitos… So we’re spending our week’s budget on the worlds most expensive cocktails. The main clientele is Japanese and since the earthquake the island has remained pretty much uninhabited. Ilot Maitre is pretty little fringed by reef and about 3 miles out from Noumea.
Mary Blair is anchored just offshore in 4 metres of perfect clear water.
At night we hear the heaving breathing of the turtles as they come up for air. They’re more shy than curious, but have come close by to check the boat out.
We can see the little patches of coral and pick the fish we might try to catch for dinner. Although having dived down and swum among them, i’d feel pretty bad frying them. They look like they’re having a lovely life down there, and are far too pretty to eat. Anyway, the fridge is stocked with delicious cheese,fresh rillettes and boudin noir from our shopping trip in Noumea.
The supermarket has everything you would find in France and the boulangerie bakes perfect baguettes and croissants. Most people in Noumea are very French and chic, so we feel extra scruffy. But outside the capital its feels more a south pacific island and the indigenous population more apparent. They’re melanesian in origin and pretty cool, most of the guys look like Bob Marley. Contact with European’s began around the 18th century, with James Cook dropping by and eventually was claimed for France in 1853.
We met up with our friends Emmanuelle and Antoine and their three girls who’ve been living in Noumea for the last little while. They very kindly lent us a car for a couple of days so we managed to explore the south part of ‘la Grande Terre’. The tribal villages Are scattered around the coast and are beautiful flower filled places. Higher up in the mountains there’s plenty of nickle mining activity, and the red earth is exposed thanks to years of deforestation in the early colonial times.
We’re now leaving Noumea for a few weeks sailing around. We’re heading south first to ‘l’Isle des Pins’ before sailing out to the Loyalty Islands. We will then come back to circumnavigate the main island.