My love hate relationship with Noumea

I have just returned from a quick trip to Noumea. As you probably already know Noumea is the capital of New Caledonia and the biggest city or should I say only city on the island. It’s about 275kms away but it’s on a dangerous and busy two lane highway. And with an average of one person a week dying on the roads here, going to Noumea is a drive we don’t do in the dark nor when we are tired.
So let’s get back to Noumea, the city of juxtapositions. Let’s start with aesthetics alone. Perched on the aquamarine water with Baie D’Orphelinat, Baies des citrons and Anse Vata it’s looks pretty amazing! There are restaurants, beaches and walking trails. There are hundreds of boats and beautiful palms. The first time I saw it, it took my breath away. Also in Noumea, SLN (a Nickel Smelter) and it’s stack pumping out pollution water side, a port and a poor and old part of town. How can a place so beautiful be also so ugly?
On to city planning. Omg! The place is a series of small roads, all named after important French people I have never heard of, making them impossible to remember. I have admittedly been lost many times and often think I know where I am going, only to end up on the other side of town. I blame the insane amount of one way streets. And traffic! Well, it’s chalked full of cars seemingly all headed to the same place. But then on the other end, you can follow the shore and go completely around the city overlooking the water. Gorgeous!
The gap between the haves and the have nots in Noumea is very evident. High end vehicles, posh designer boutiques, and expensive restaurants are splashed among the homeless, beaten up cars and snacks or food trucks. It’s very clear that there are two totally different lifestyles there.
Weather, if it’s sunny it’s spectacular! With little shops to wander in and out of, the beaches, running trails, kite surfing, wind surfing & stand up paddling. There are tons of restaurants with outdoor seating. If it rains, it’s miserable. Suddenly those in and out shops are out and so is dinning.
So, here is the deal. Koné, although growing, is still missing a few things. So quarterly, we like to head there to stock up on the little things that make life easier. It can be like a mini vacation or in true Noumea style, it can also be an exhausting shopping marathon. This last trip was the latter. What was I buying you may ask?
Well here is the list:
Baking powder
Rice crackers
American mustard
Salsa
Cheese(shredded and not emmental)
Nespresso coffee
Worchestire sauce
Cream of mushroom soup
Bday presents for two kids
A bicycle helmet
Ziploc type bags
Brown sugar
Pappadums
Basmati Rice
I found almost everything after only 2 grocery stores! Added treasures this time were cranberry sauce (for Thanksgiving), wraps, mini Spanish style brochettes, fresh broccoli, fresh avocados and Halloween decorations.
The bicycle helmet was purchased at the new and awesome Decathlon store in Dumbéa.
So, as you can see I was happy with my treasure trove of goodies but by noon I was tired of the traffic, the rain and I just wanted to get back home to Koné.
The boys and I hit the McDonalds drive thru and started up the road. They slept and I kept my eyes in the road. It was good to go but even better to come back. Until next time Noumea!

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One thought on “My love hate relationship with Noumea

  1. Pingback: My love hate relationship with Noumea | operation CDL

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