Did someone mention winter? Nouvelle Calédonie has turned on the chill and brought in the clouds especially for us. But who’s complaining, when work is a few thousand kilometres away…
On weekdays at this time of the year, it looks abandoned and a little tired here – a bit like a nightclub strip in the harsh light of day.
Yes, there are signs of life as the cleanup begins for the start of the tourist season in September. But no-one is in a hurry.
It will get done when it’s done. There’s no real drive to lose yourself in busy-ness and you’ve gotta love that!
…and those two-hour lunch breaks, ahhhh. The perfect time to do a few laps of the bay, or keep it low key with a game of pétanque, the French version of boules.
The aim is to throw hollow metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball called a cochonnet (‘pig’). Did I say low key? This is intense stuff and these guys have all the style…
It’s a little confronting to see so many of the Pacific Islanders hanging out in the street, in parks, under trees. We asked a local if unemployment was a problem here, but she just smiled.
“People think they’re sitting around with no work or money, getting depressed,” she said. “But it’s not like that here. They don’t have ‘nothing to do’, it’s just their culture to be relaxed and happy.
“They don’t want a lot – they have what they need. They’d rather hang out with friends and family. It’s who they are.”
Some argue that there’s a ‘welfare culture’ side to it, but I like that they don’t feel the need to accumulate wealth or ‘stuff’.
That they prioritise family and the group. That having a laugh and a chat is way more important than having the right house or car…
So we did a bit of hanging-out these holidays – something new for us. By the end of the week, we got the point.
It’s okay not to be always on the go. In fact, it’s pretty fabulous really.
Could this be a new way of life? I’ll let you know when we’re back home…
Meanwhile, I must get us a pétanque set. Just sayin’.