Friday, October 05, 2007

Thursday 4th October

New Caledonia

22 17.173 S
166 26.266 E

It was really nice to wake up in a marina berth – no chance of us having dragged anchor during the night, no chance of the anchor light having gone out due to shortage of power and plenty of fresh water available for any use. We scrounged around for something to eat for breakfast – eggs and bacon were off the list as they all vanished with the quarantine lady yesterday! I walked up the dock for a shower in the dock ablution block whilst Gerry fiddled about sorting out the internet connection (we bought a prepaid card yesterday that I forgot to mention). By the time I got back he had read his mail and sent off a few emails, I levered him out of the comfort of the nav.station stool and pushed him towards the shower, he couldn’t be bothered to walk up the dock so showered on board using the excuse that he wants to empty the water tanks here and refill them with fresh water (I can help with that project – Hollywood showers for the rest of our stay here!). I checked my email – disappointing to find the mail box empty – my friends and family where have you all gone? Anyway I did get the blog underway and then Gerry reappeared announcing that he was going off to pick up a hire car from over the road and was I coming with him. I decided to stay put and finish with the blog whilst he went for the car. It wasn’t long before he returned with the car and a bag of croissants – that solved the breakfast dilemma! The next thing was getting in the car and having a drive around the place to get our bearing and to drop off the laundry, someone had pointed out the laundry to us and we drove around a couple of blocks until we found it. We then headed out of the center of town, towards the next bay – where we had anchored for the night on arrival here, we continued along the coast for a while and found a lovely restaurant on the end of a pier; we stopped there for lunch – it was mega expensive but very nice – I guess we were paying for the ocean view – as if we needed it after almost a year of sailing! Any way after lunch we followed the coast road which eventually turned inland and we found ourselves heading towards mountains. The road was excellent after the ones we had driven on recently in other places. We came upon a natural spring on the side of one of the mountains, the water was diverted through about 8 spout points and there was a steady stream of locals filling their plastic water bottles with the free spring water, we of course didn’t have a bottle of any sort in the car at the time but I did jump out and take a couple of photos of the place and the view out towards the ocean from this point.
We traveled a bit further and found ourselves approaching mountain passes – not where we wanted to be heading this late in the afternoon so we turned the car around and retraced our drive back to the center of Noumea. We returned to the boat for about an hour and a half and then decided that we were hungry enough to go and seek out someplace to eat. I had read that there were night markets on each Thursday in the park in the center of town and persuaded Gerry that we needed to go there first as they might have food there. We drove the short distance as it was quite chilly, found a parking spot and made our way through the Place des Cocotiers – a sort of park which has a band stand at one end, light vegetation and walkways through the center section and a lush tropical garden at the other end; the market was set up in the center part with stalls selling all sorts of things, I found it a little disappointing as there was nothing that I thought worth spending money on. I have to say at this point that the things for sale were rather odd – one stall sold just deodorant (?!) anyway we walked from the tropical end which I fear is a great haven for spaced out druggies and homeless old men, through the market stalls to the bandstand end where there was a group of young dancers performing belly dancing. We watched for a while but were rather conscious of the presence of loads of ‘iffy” looking youths and the fact that we had loaded wallets under our hands in our pockets. We didn’t find any food stalls to speak of and decided to find somewhere else to eat, we asked a group of gendarmes for a recommendation, we had read that there were Roulottes (the vans that we ate at in Tahiti) supposed to be in the car park next to the market and though we would eat there if we could find them. The gendarmes obviously don’t eat out as they couldn’t point out the car park with the roulettes and they couldn’t think of anywhere in the center of town to recommend! We decided at that point that we would get in the car and drive around to see what we could find, I had the names of several places from the lonely planet guide but not the addresses (and where was the guide when you needed it?- on the boat!) As we drove around I spied a place that was one of the recommendations – a Moroccan place called La Kasbah. We made our way inside, were the first people to arrive for dinner (they all eat European late here) and ordered ourselves a meal. Gerry’s starter unfortunately came complete with a piece of rubber glove attached to the underside of the meat – enough to put you off you’d think. The main courses were huge and I’m happy to say were just delicious – no extras in these! There was far too much food for us to finish and we had no room for dessert – these were little delicacies displayed in a glass cabinet at the center of the restaurant and looked divine – I would have taken a "to go" box of them but Gerry wouldn’t let me. They didn’t charge us for Gerry’s starter (or the piece of rubber) and we had a hard time assuring them that the meal was good apart from this especially as we had left about half of it due to being full. Following dinner we made our way back to the boat and had an early night.



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