Day 4 – Noumea

Ah Noumea. We sailed through the Dunbar passage at the splendid hour of 5.30am. Sunrise coloured the waves in a photogenic manner. Forty minutes later I arrived on deck. It was still reasonably photogenic.

After a stroll around town and lunch at a patisserie, we embarked on a tour with wine and cheese. Our tickets stated that it was not a wine tasting tour. After a brief drive through town we arrived at a restaurant and were provided with three cheeses and three glasses of different wine to consume (but not taste). The consumption of cheese and wine was undertaken with grace and fortitude and delight. One could say it was a tasty experience.

Okay, this isn’t working for me. You see, we embarked on a tour but I feel quite conflicted about recording it. Our tour guide had not moved beyond his 1960s education and provided an unremittingly negative view of the Indigenous population. On one hand, I don’t expect everyone to have the same world view (some people find all of Today Tonight’s advice applicable to their life’s experiences). Our guide demonstrated one world view that is held by an expat Australian in Noumea. That’s an education in itself. Even with anonymity, I don’t know that it’s right to publicly humiliate the guy by quoting verbatim what he said then picking at it for posterity. On the other hand I’m still angry, embarrassed and disappointed that the view presented by our guide is what a bus load of people took home with them. With my third, equally attractive and functional hand, I lodged a complaint and expect that P&O’s internal processes will address the issue in a reasonable manner – the crew on the ship is made up of a dozen different nationalities. I hope changes are made with limited suffering.

Some background reading on New Caledonia

But what about now, you say?

  • Here’s a polemic paper discussing emancipation and colonialism in New Caledonia
  • And if you still have time, why not read about the census in New Caledonia and the politics and implications for national identity that ensue.