Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sunshine Days

Current Location: Noumea, New Caledonia
Current Position: 22°16.65' S 166°26.42' E
Next Destination: Undecided, New Caledonia

I am loving the weather here in Noumea. After months of clouds and rain in both Fiji and Vanuatu, the endless sunshine that has beamed down on us since arriving in New Cal is most welcome. On top of that a cool breeze seems to continuously blow, perfecting the temperature such that even the likes of Goldilocks couldn’t complain!

Living dockside these last few days has also been terrific. No wet dinghy rides, no “car-pooling” or schedule synchronization. We just step right off and on and come and go as we please, either together or separate, no longer having to coordinate with each other. Our location is ideal too … just a few short blocks from the city center. Shopping and sites mere minutes away.

The only huge downer is that Chris has remained off and on sick, so we’ve yet to really be able to explore and take advantage of our great location and the ideal weather.

The language barrier can also be a bit frustrating – very few people speak English, and I only know about three words in French. I had an especially comically time at the outdoor veggie market today. MJ (Island Sonata) and I walked over just to grab a few items. I didn’t have any change or super small bills, but the market here is a bit more ‘advanced’ and hoppin’ then other countries, so I thought I’d be alright. First stop was some terrific looking vine-tomatoes. I grabbed three, the vendor weighed them and I saw the price of 144 (which is roughly about $1.50 US). I pulled out a 1000 bill (about $10 US), and asked, “Change?”. The lady gave me a strange look and shook her head no. I was a bit surprised because 1000 isn’t really that much, but figured maybe she was just a small vendor and business had been slow. Not having anything smaller, MJ spotted me some change. On to another vendor …. this time I’ll buy a few more things so I can get change. I pick out some onions and garlic, and he shows me the price on the calculator (as neither of us can communicate the price) – 680. Ahh perfect! I try to hand him my 1000 bill, but he shakes his head no. What?, I’m thinking and re-look at the numbers of the bill thinking that perhaps I grabbed a 10000 instead of a 1000 ($100 US vs $10). Nope I hadn’t. I kind of look at him again and he still shakes his head no, almost looking at me in slight disgust. Gee, well fine, I can’t believe he doesn’t have some 400 in change, so whatever I think and we move on, telling him we can’t buy it then. By now I’m a bit frustrated, I mean, what’s the deal, I’ve got to have the exact amount??? I’m not giving up yet, we move on, but this time before I pick out my desired capsicums (bell peppers) I pull out the 1000 and ask, “This ok?”. The lady shakes her head no. UGH! But with my wallet open she can see inside and points at my money. So I start digging through it, only seeing larger sized bills, but she is adamantly pointing, so I’m still looking. I pull out another 1000 and she still shakes her head no and points. But there’s nothing smaller in here! Finally I just hold out my wallet and tell her to show me, and she touched another 1000 bill. I just don’t get it, I’m thinking, and say to MJ, “But it’s the sa….” and that’s when I notice that the color and texture between the two 1000 bills is different. A closer inspection and I’m feeling like quite the fool… my other two 1000 are Vanuatu money!!! Neither MJ or I had noticed and the other vendors didn’t speak enough English to tell me …. no wonder they thought I was nuts … trying to pay in New Cal with Vanuatu money! Well, I was able to pay for my capsicums and then went laughing back to the onion/garlic guy and showed him my French money and laughed, gesturing dramatically to let him know I knew what a fool I was. He instantly smiled and laughed along, handed me my items and, still laughing, my change …. in Pacific French Francs!

1 comment:

  1. Great website. I've been following your journey off and on for a few months. Admire the great pics. Could have been of some assistance with the french! Alas! super to see fellow sailors conquering the circumnav. Be careful in the Indian Ocean of those Somali Pirates we've heard some of in months past. God's Peace to you and fair skies and following seas....