It took us twenty six (26) hours starting June 16, 2008 after taking the flight of two (2) hours and ten (10) minutes to Hong Kong, with intervening gap of seven (7) hours after arrival before departing for Sydney which required eight (8) hours of travel and forty five (45) minutes of air travel, with intervening gap of five (5) hours after arrival before taking the flight for two (2) hours and fifty (50) minutes to Tontouta, New Caledonia and requiring one (1) more hour to finally reach Noumea at nighttime.
Notwithstanding the exhausting travel, I woke up early in the morning to immediately experience Noumea.
As the beautiful terrain with the inundating mountains and hills laced with lagoons and other bodies of water approximating the landscape of Scotland were being unveiled, I said to myself that the prolonged, tiring and very expensive travel could be worth pursuing after all.
The beautiful terrain appears to have been further beautified and given orderliness by the French influence.
Notwithstanding the many places of interest to be visited by the tourist bus which circularizes the area stopping at points of interest, we firstly focused our visit to the Marie Tibajou Cultural Center.
The beautiful architecture which attempts to balance modernity with the Kanak cultural beliefs was designed by an Italian Architect named Renzo Piano.
It was my impression that it was established to particularly showcase Kanak’s culture. From my perspective , it is still wanting. The arts and artifacts were supplied predominantly by other countries like Papua New Guinea, Irian Jaya, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, New Zealand, Tonga, etc. thus overwhelming what was left of the Kanak’s arts and artifacts.
On our way back, we had a glimpse of the nickel factory which is giving economic boast to the locality. It was learned during later interaction with residents that the industry was being given preferential attention by the government than tourism. It would help explain the absence of completeness in the display at the museum.
On the second day, we made a visit at the northern part including LA FOA which is the historic settlements where the Kanak ignited a revolution in 1878. We saw also the prison and fortress where we had a vantage point of the scenic points and the venue of the revolution.
We passed by Boloupari where we had lunch in one of the restaurants of the old French inspired villages. We saw at the back of the eatery their national bird called “cagao”, endemic bat, etc. The eatery is decorated with different hats and caps displayed from corner to corner.
We passed by Sarramea with its numerous flowering plants intertwined by trees of all sizes as again engendered by the orderliness and aesthetic soundness of the French governance.
At Petit Couli, we had a taste of their popular delicacy which is called Bounyak comprising of fish and other seafoods with yam, taro and the like.
We had an opportunity to talk to a representative of the tribes, We learned that there were no written records of the historical activities as everything was oral to ensure secrecy.
We saw, however, their big house called Grand Case, surrounded by images of protectors and guardians which was explained to be different from one another. (Until this point in time, I could not see any difference.)
We were informed that they have been Christianized. We learned, however, that nobody was visiting the small chapel except for an old lady as everyone is preoccupied with other activities like hunting, etc.
Notwithstanding my exposure for several hours to the place and my interaction with the guide, I felt my desire to internalize their culture has not yet been realized.
Thanks to Divine Providence, it suddenly came to my mind that there was still ample time to reach back Noumea in order to visit the museum which we failed to visit as it was closed during the preceding day.
I therefore requested the guide to bring us back to Noumea. Though the museum officer said that they would refuse entry as there were only ten (10) minutes left before closure, we finally convinced them to just allow us to have a glimpse of the Kanak arts and artifacts displayed.
The missing Kanak sculptures and artifacts fixated in my mind were all there. These final five minutes did it all to complete the very purpose of my travel to the place.
Thank you very much, Lord.