It was a watery and cultury couple of days.
Sunday was a glorious day, but Mum wasn't feeling too well, so we took things slowly. The Aquarium is very close to our hotel, so we walked down there. It is a terrific looking building, low, and with a blue glass wall with water coursing down the sides into a moat. Quite something. It was a fabulous display, segmented by fresh water, reef, medium depth, very deep. There was a display of fluorescent coral that was really beautiful, lit with ultraviolet light, glowing orange and purple. There was a sad exhibition about sharks, with an electronic display counting up as we watched, showing the number killed since the museum opened. A shocking number, and the knowledge that most of them are killed by having their fins sliced off, then thrown still alive back into the sea, is the stuff of nightmares. We spent a lot of time there, and it was a beautiful display.
It gave me a taste for snorkelling. On previous walks I had seen a sign (on Anse Vata beach) showing an underwater walk on Duck Island, or Isle aux Canardes. One got there by taking a water taxi. So that's what I did. Got there just as the taxi was leaving, and a couple of minutes later I was on the islet. Did a quick walk around the crushed coral perimeter, dropped my stuff, and put on my mask. Didn't take my camera, so no pics. What a treat. Numbered buoys had submerged signs telling what was to be seen, and what things there were! The most brilliant fish, zillions of them. At least as many and in as much variety as at Molokini Atoll, or at Hanauma Bay in Hawaii. What really distinguished it was the amount and variety of coral. There was a whole forest of it, all brilliant colours and shapes, it was just fantastic. Enough to take one's breath away. I have my own mask and snorkel, which was good, and I almost never wear fins, preferring just feet. It was, for me, the highlight of the trip. Wowee.
We ate out last night, at La Boucherie. Mer et terre for me, with foie gras sauce. Delicious. I am impressed with the availability and range of frou frou non-alcoholic cocktails. Last night I had something coconutty and pineapply, with parasol and dyed green shredded coconut frosting the rim of the glass. Michael had a bananacolada, also with froufrou. Mum had a glass of white wine, and chicken liver/potato warm salad. My meal was terrific, the meat excellent and the prawns really good. A great end to a perfect day.
Monday saw more culture. First on the list was the Museum of New Caledonia, near the main market. Snapped some 'tribal art' on the way.
We parked easily, and paid about 70 cents as entry. What a great museum. The first display was a roomm full of carved wooden posts - some doorposts with faces and chevron patterns, others great poles that are the central poles for the huge thatched structures. These structures are called case, and are wonderful spaces.
I particularly enjoyed the weaving, and the netting for fishing nets, and the money skirts.
We had seen the P&O liner Pacific Dawn arrive this morning, so there was a market on the first floor of the maritime terminal to greet the tourists. Mum and I went to look at it, while Michaell went into town to a shop with nic quality stuff, and bought a shirt. Mum and I will go back to this shop and look at the beautiful handbags and some of their clothing. No, you will NOT see me in a Mother Hubbard muu-muu (comfy though they appear). There are sosme nice old buildings where the French influence is quite evident.
We then had to go to the supermarket, because amazingly enough we were out of the ch's - chocolate, cheese, chips. Not to mention icecream, Orangina, bacon and eggs, and fruit. Shopping is constant. I can see the appeal of being on an ocean cruise where all food is provided constantly. That might be the only appeal, though.
After lunch and a nap, Mum and I decided on a late afternoon swim, this time at Anse Vata beach. The water was pleasantly cool, but lots of churned up sand. I couldn't see much at all - just some sea grasses and a few shells and corals on the bottom. I was feeling a bit disappointed, when I saw something large and moving in front of me. I thought at first it was a big ball of seaweed, but it was a turtle, quite a large turtle, swimming underneath me and off to my left. I let him go, and felt utterly blessed to have seen him.
We returned happy, and had our afternoon game of cards and some knitting. I have almost finished my socks.