Monday, October 08, 2007

Sunday 7th October

New Caledonia

22 17.173 S
166 26.266 E

Cards, flowers, phone calls, champagne, breakfast in bed, beautifully wrapped gifts, surprise airline tickets for lunch in Paris, a hotel suite in the center of London – what more could we possibly want for our wedding anniversary? OOOPPS – reality check!
29 years on and we did managed to wish each other many more agonizing years together to come.
We began our day with taking the jib off of the boat – it’s going for restitching of the sacrificial sunbrella this week, there were the usual arguments and yelling that accompany taking down a sail but we got there in the end, bundled the sail into a sail bag and dragged it up the dock and put it into the car ready to drop off at the sail maker tomorrow morning. Being a Sunday everything was closed and the town was quiet. After showering and dressing we decided that we would make the most of having a car and go out for the day, drive around some more and see the scenery – after going to the grocery store which was open for a couple of hours, we didn’t need much there and it was a quick trip back to the boat to unload the goods. I had read about the Tjibaou cultural center and hunted out the information to see if it was open on Sundays –it was! Off we went in the direction of the place; it wasn’t too far away but definitely a car ride. The car park for the place was almost empty and there didn’t appear to be many people around. We paid and went in, walking along the designated pathways to the center. The place was, according to the literature, supposed to be “a vehicle for restoring and ensuring recognition for Kanak culture as a key aspect of the country’s identity”(1). We expected some sort of cultural history exhibition but were a little disappointed to find that the exhibition halls were full of art from all over the pacific – it wasn’t what we had expected at all. The building was most spectacular – it is an architectural dream come true I think, there are 10 buildings, divided into 3 villages which are impossible to describe – the photos will hopefully show why I can’t describe them in detail.

Then there is a small area where 3 “traditional Great houses” have been built – they contrast dramatically. The entire center is set in a huge park with fantastic views across the bay. From what we could tell there are usually tours and shows etc. but not today! There are 2 libraries within the complex which house an extensive history of the Kanaks, one of which was closed for the day. We wandered around the place, took in what we could of the exhibits and after a couple of hours we returned to home base (via MacDonald’s) –a little disappointed as we had expected a great deal more of the cultural center. The afternoon was spent doing very little. I varnished all the wooden artifacts that we have collected along the way as I don’t want to relinquish them to the quarantine authority in Australia when we arrive there. At cocktail hour met up with Peter and Kerry, were joined by Ralph and Jean -Claude, and sat drinking at the Marina bar until we were embarrassingly the last table in the place to go home. A lot of sailing stories and jokes were exchanged and we had a really good evening.

(1) quote from Tjibaou cultural center information pamphlet, handed out to visitors when admission fee is paid.



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