New Caledonia, Day 4: The quaint corners of Noumea

Day 4: Monday, July 22, 2019


This morning we had a relaxed start, as it was the first day in my trip that Michael didn't have to work. This meant we would get the whole day together, and he would be my personal tour guide.

For breakfast, Michael picked up some fresh baguettes from the market, one of which was charcoal bread: a black baguette that didn't differ too much in flavor, but it was one of Michaels favorites because it was aesthetically pleasing. He asked me if I wanted coffee and jam, to which I obviously replied in the affirmative. He "went shopping" at his house, returning with local honey, nutella, and several kinds of jam. The apartment in which I was staying was already well stocked with butter. Clearly I was in heaven.

look at this breakfast. LOOK AT IT

And to ensure it got only better and better, Michael offered to make me a coffee. He used an aeropress, a typical peace corps coffee snob staple, as it is portable and practical, yet makes a good cup of coffee. Having Michael, a seasoned barista, brew you a cup of coffee with an aeropress is like asking Monet to make you a portrait with ketchup: its not his usual medium, but with it he will make a masterpiece. He proceeded to froth milk, pre-heat the mugs and swirl and pour the coffee to make a delicious brew. Not that I really am enough of an aficionado to know the difference, but it was fun to watch him work his magic.


Eventually we got ourselves moving, and Michael decided to take Milka, the dog, with us to run around, since part of the deal with my free stay was Michael doing some pet-sitting. My twenty minutes of fetch the other day wasn't enough, apparently. Dogs are needy.

With my complete indifference to what we did or where we went today, Michael was in control.

the promenade along the bay

We went exploring by foot, along the Baie de Sainte-Marie, which was a beautifully scenic route. We circled Ouen Toro which I saw yesterday, eventually ending up in the Faubourg Blanchot neighborhood.

This area was uniquely different than what I'd seen of Nouméa so far. Michael's neighborhood is shiny and modern, reminding me of the Ikea-like aesthetic of my host family's home in Valencia Spain. This neighborhood, however, had more of an old world charm to it. Michael pointed out that his neighborhood is a newer development, which makes perfect sense. Here in ----, there is a colonial charm, with wrought iron balconies dripping with flowers and vines, with other homes shielded by beautiful landscaping.

Maison Célières

We stumbled upon Maison Célières, a colonial home that has been converted into a free museum. Something to explore that was free?! I was all in.

The exhibits and photo captions were all in French, unfortunately for me. But even so, the home was nicely preserved, with some of the original owners' belongings on display, such as the dining ware, the bedding and furniture, and the obligatory creepy dolls in the children's room. As we wandered around, a fat orange cat, presumably the home's new inhabitant, followed us around. As we rounded the back patio where milka was tied to a bench, he cried out to us. Yes, milka, I have forgotten you, because this super friendly fat cat is my new buddy. Sorry.

I grabbed a bunch of the free handouts and brochures to bring back to the French teacher at my school in Vanuatu, because I know she can use them for practical reading activities in the classroom. After we took a handful of fabulous photos, we were off.

We explored a few eco-friendly shops in the area. I missed these sorts of places. In Vanuatu, there is one in town but it is extremely pricy and therefore not inviting to locals, who would pay for the more affordable plastic-heavy options available at the main stores. I enjoyed looking at the huge variety of bulk foods and eco-friendly home and body products. As I've mentioned before, I just miss the variety of shopping options, especially those that create less waste.

quiche deliciousness

We encountered a tiny little grocery store that also offered freshly made food options. By now we were hungry again, so I indulged in a quiche (served in an eco-friendly wooden tray) and Michael picked up a bean and corn salad (also served in an eco friendly cardboard tray). Our serving spoons were wooden, and it was a small delight to know that my carry-out was completely biodegradable. We enjoyed our meal in a nearby park, because this is just the area to have a cute little triamgle-shaped park tucked in the middle of its quaint neighborhood.

One of our goals today was to find a few secondhand shops so I could explore what the fabulously fashionable French people discard while cleaning their closets. We walked to Sans Chichi Friperie Chic Femme & Homme where I entered fashion heaven. This was a more upscale second hand, but still affordable. Everything was cherry picked, from top brands to Zara to Topshop. I wanted the first twenty items I saw, and I grabbed them all to try in the dressing room. After narrowing down my choices based on practicality (when would I REALLY wear a navy blue fringe-sleeve suede top in Vanuatu?) I decided on white and navy striped off-the-shoulder maxi dress that actually fit me perfectly. It made me feel like I owned a yacht, but it only cost $20usd! A steal. I also got a nice pair of earrings from the front $1 basket. It was a day of value!

Meanwhile, Michael was off in the back where the men's clothes were, and found some nice shoe and shirt options. Men's clothes are boring.

pups on a roof

As the sun went down and milka grew tired, it was time for us to make our way home. Walking around a town always invites you to see its strange quirks, like a fenced-in home that appeared to be the residence of 16 tiny dogs and a goat, all of which were standing on the roof of the house. Or the beauty of the rose-colored sunset over the McDonald's golden arches. These are the absurd kinds of things you see while walking.

look at that sunset

We returned back to my place and enjoyed some pasta for dinner, before watching more "man seeking woman" and calling it a night. Tomorrow is my last full day in Nouméa, and I was excited to make the most of it.