Thursday, August 04, 2011

Lifou Island and Noumea

The night before we arrived at Lifou Island, Vanuatu, during our cruise, our cranky Sports Trivia host recommended that we search for some hidden caves, for a waterhole and a swim. When we tendered off the ship for this island visit, we followed the directions of going right instead of left, being where everything seemed to be.

After being a little lost, and starting to think Anthony was getting his revenge on our loud and overly successful trivia team, we found a road from the markets to the second church that could be seen from the boat as we docked. Here, we found some villagers with a sign and an apparent successful business plan - and would take us to the caves for a fee.

B, Dillo and I were lead down a little path by a guy, who then passed us onto another guy further down the track. As the track got steeper, and smaller, we wondered if we would make the news, never to be seen again....but soon, sure enough, we reached a final jump down, and a dark cave with a black water hole. Now the locals were totally careful and set up for this, with a torch to ensure anyone coming down could see their footing, and then also get a view of the water. After a local demo of the jump in, Dillo was in.

Freezing, he said, but a pretty cool place to be having a dip! Soon another group arrived down there, and then the familiar voices of Peter and Liam, Narda and Barb and Enya found us too. The kids were straight in, as we marveled at the set up, with just a circle of light above us.

Back out into the world, we then walked back down the road, and to the other end of the road, to the Notre Dame de Lourdes. A view of the cruise ship out at sea, and the beach below, we decided that a patch of sand had our names on it for the next few hours. Perfect.

Cocktails out on Oasis as the ship sailed again, we then joined the big group for Sports Trivia, before this evening we had dinner at La Luna - the Asian inspired restaurant on board. 5 courses, little morsels mostly, but so much of it, the food was so good! We sung happy birthday to Fi here, cos we didn't know when her actual birthday was, and thus declared every day of the cruise Fi's birthday!

Our next and final stop from our ship was the city of Noumea the next day, being back in New Caledonia. Finding the Hop On Hop Off bus, we rode this past all the beaches, to get to the Tjibaou Cultural Centre as our first stop.

Here, we walked through The Kanak Pathway, through the gardens, which journeyed through the story of the mythical founder of the kanak people. The path ended at the door to enter the distinctive buildings, within which were art galleries, both contemporary and traditional, including rooms of history.

Back out into the sunshine and humidity for our hot day of our cruise, we grabbed the bus back around to the beaches, and found a piece of sand. After dozing off for a bit, we eventually wandered back towards town, taking in some ice cream, Saint Joseph's Cathedral, and a rather disappointing Coconut Place (Place Des Cocotiers), before reboarding our ship.

Our usual sail away party as the sun set on the Oasis deck had been featured on the daily cruise newsletter, and thus, everyone was on deck to watch us sail out of New Cal. Pina Coladas, the sun setting and the sky turning pink and purple, as land disappeared.

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