Blogging from New Caledonia 1a

This is really just footnotes to yesterday’s sonnet. If you’re looking for excellent writing about Nouméa from the perspective of a USer who lives here and engages intelligently with the place and people, I recommend Julie Harris’s blog, New Caledonia Today. If you just want just one post, try this one, which shines an interesting and uncomfortable light on relations between Kanaks and European New Caledonians.

But back to my footnoting, largely by way of pics.

The corner of our street – where Mallarmé’s languid faun is about as appropriate as the Lindsay satyr in Sydney’s Botanic Gardens:

Mallarmé

Our nearest bus stop, named with similar incongruity for renaissance man Joachim du Bellay:

du Bellay

The tricouleur, not as ubiquitous as the Stars and Stripes in the US, but enough to let you know you’re in France. And some people find it galling to have the Union Jack in the corner of their flag!

tricouleur

It’s not quite true that the tricouleur is the only flag here. Nouméa has its own city flag, of course, but there is also the Kanak national flag. The link above to the New Caledonia Today blog gives an idea of just how contentious this flag is. Here’s the only one we saw, planted on a rock in the bush across the road from a rather grand statue of Notre Dame du Pacifique. There’s supposed to be a referendum on independence some time this year. Interesting times ahead.

kanak flag

The writing on this bin says, ‘Le tri, c’est pour toi aussi’ – ‘Tri is for you too.’ It’s tri meaning sorting as in triage rather than three as in tricouleur, but the coincidence was too good to pass up.

tri

The women of colour, in both senses, are everywhere:

20140131-184410.jpgPhoto by Penny Ryan

20140131-184736.jpgPhoto by Penny Ryan

You can read about the separatist hostage-taking and subsequent deaths in the late 1980s here.

5 responses to “Blogging from New Caledonia 1a

  1. I’ll be very interested to know what your final impression of New Caledonia is. I spent a few weeks there about a year ago and was very conflicted. The variety of different cultures, and the beauty of the islands and the bays was wonderful, but overall the heavy hand of French colonialism seemed to be stifling. The French expats seemed to think they were doing time in exile, even though in many ways it is paradise. They wouldn’t dream of taking a bus anywhere, they are thought to be unreliable and dangerous. Tourists catch them all the time and have no problems. In the supermarkets you could buy 100s of different types of cheeses, quite unnecessary in the tropical weather, but there was little in the way of fruit. But you might have a better time.

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    • Hi Kathy. So far we’re definitely visiting the same place as you did, with the addition that the ferry to the much lauded Ile des Pins is closed for servicing so we don’t get to go there unless we’re willing to spend several hundred dollars on a plane trip, which I outthink we are. We’re loving the buses, though – and we are usually the only white passengers.

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  2. Thanks for the link to Julie HARRIS’ blog.

    Reminds me that the oldest sibling of my great great grand-father traded in the late 18th/early 19th century through the South Pacific – for sandalwood, pork, bêche-de-mer – to Macao, Canton… from Tahiti, Fiji & New Caledonia.

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  3. Thanks for your kind words – and the refreshing photos of a city we see every day. I am enjoying your reflections on this very rich and complex South Pacific island.

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