July 2004

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2 July 2004 - Lord Howe Island

I was really sad to leave Lord Howe Island because it was great to be there. We did a lot of wonderful things. The first of the things we did was rent bikes at Wilson's Hire. We went there because that is were the Harbor Master lives, or rather: the Lagoon Master. When we were there I saw that you could rent bikes and I thought that having bikes would be very handy when it came to transportation. We rented bikes and they became our means of transportation. It had been about a year since we had ridden a bike. So it almost felt as if I was just learning how to ride a bike ... naaa, only for a for seconds did it feel that way.

On the morning of the second day, Tristan and I jumped into our swimming gear and wet suits. Then we dove into the water for a refreshing swim. After a few minutes I saw a funny shape on the sea bed. I dove down to the bottom and found what I was looking for. It turned out to be a sea egg, which is a kind of sea urchin. In the late afternoon we went to the fish feeding. This was an event we had missed the day before. The fish feeding is fantastic. It takes place on one of the beaches where this man shows up with buckets full of leftovers from the restaurants. In the water you could see big Kingfish and some smaller Sand Mullet. There were also lots of Southern Drummers. These fish are nicknamed Neighbor Fish, because you give this fish to your neighbor when you happen to catch one. This is because they don't taste good at all. We also brought some bread of our own to feed the fish. They would even feed from your hand. When everything was finished I wished that we would do this again before we left. In the end my wish did come true.

Mama had decided that if the weather would turn sloppy and make the anchorage really uncomfortable, we would go to a hotel for however many nights the bad weather would last. The hotel we chose was called Ocean View Lodge. We picked this because it was close to where the boat was anchored and the people who ran it were very nice. The Lodge had the only pool on the island. We didn't even go in it because it was too cold. They also had a pool table, a table tennis table and a full size tennis court. Mama says I have a natural talent for table tennis, just like Tristan has a natural talent for tennis.

While we were staying at the Lodge we did the most challenging hike that we have ever done ... climbing Mount Gower. Actually, I should not call it a hike. It is more like a rock-climbing-ankle-breaking-hike. Around half way we stopped for a little rest and a snack. The views were breathtaking. But if I thought those views were fantastic, I was mistaken, as the views up at the top were so spectacular that you could faint. That was how magnificent they were. Before we got there we had to climb several steep rocky slopes. One of them was really steep. To get there you had to scale a rocky ledge, then climb up. The ledge was actually a long stalagmite sort of thing with a little step carved out of stone at the bottom. You had to pull yourself up by the rope every now and then. We could only go one at a time. When we had climbed the slope it was about one and a half more hours till the lunch rest stop. The hike down was considerably harder and a few people twisted their ankles slightly.

When we left early one morning I looked back and saw Lord Howe Island getting smaller and smaller until it was no longer there.

15 July 2004 - Noumea

We are in Noumea, in the marina. One of the best things here is that there is a market. The market is very close to the marina, so we can walk there every day. You can buy meat, fruit, vegetables, fish and arts and crafts. My favorite place in the market is the arts and crafts area. I have already bought a round crystal sun-stone with a hole in the middle for the necklace and a shark tooth necklace. Almost every day Tristan and I walk to a bakery to get freshly made deliciously crunchy baguettes. What I love about Noumea is that you only have to walk a few minutes to go shopping.

We happened to be in Noumea during Bastille Day. Bastille Day celebrates the freedom of the French people. It marks the end of the French Revolution. On Bastille Day there are parades, fairs and fireworks. If you've ever seen the Kaboom fireworks in San Francisco, the ones here were nothing. But considering the fact that there are only 200,000 people in all of New Caledonia, it was quite amazing. The morning after the fireworks we went to a big boring military parade in which they spend the first hour inspecting troops and giving out stupid medals. There was no execution. After the parade we went to a fair. Tristan and I went on the bumper-cars 6 times and then went on a ... I don't know what you would call it. It is one of those bungie-jumps where you have a trampoline and you wear a harness. Then you jump up and go extra high. On this bungie I could do double back-flips. I would jump up and as soon as my feet left the trampoline I did one back-flip going up and one going down. The day after my muscles in my arms and upper legs hurt like hell (or .... really bad).

23 July 2004 - Baie du Prony

Today we moved to a new bay. After some homework we went on a hike to a lighthouse on Pic Ndoua (189 m high). I didn't want to go on the hike because yesterday I had gone on a four hour hike and had quite enough exercise for a while. I thought so, at least. But no ... I had to go along. As usual, mamma was right, though, it was fun trip, because along the way we came across a small canyon. In a mouse's perspective it would be like the Grand Canyon in Arizona. While papa and mamma walked along the top of the canyon, Tristan and I walked along the dry river bed. While we were walking, I made an amazing discovery! I found out that the ground and cliffs were littered with what looked like naturally tumbled hematite. During our time in the canyon I filled my pockets with these pebbles. We climbed out and then walked the rest of the way to the lighthouse. When we came back to the boat I found out that what I had thought was hematite, was actually chrome. At least that is what we are thinking because the guide books tells us that there are chromium mines all around here. I have a real piece of hematite and when I cleaned it a bit and compared them with that piece I realized that it wasn't actually hematite. This was one of the many adventures we had in Baie du Prony.

The following is a story of another adventure I had in Baie du Prony. Baie du Prony is actually a huge bay, a bit like Broken Bay, with many other little bays inside. This story is about the other hike that I mentioned. It took place in Baie du Carenage. In the morning, mamma and papa decided to go on a hike in the surrounding hills. Tristan did not want to go, as usual, even though the hikes that we go on turn out to be fun. I was totally surprised when he was allowed to stay on the boat by himself. When the 3 of us left I thought for sure that Tristan would call us back to take him along, but ... he didn't! I was totally surprised again!

After 1 ˝ hours, papa, mamma and I stopped to eat lunch by a little swimming hole on the top of a large cascade-looking waterfall. I decided to go swimming, but in the end, I felt it was too cold. We did swim further down the trail, though. The sun was out and it was a beautiful spot. On the way back I found a block the size of the palm of my hand of what looked like raw hematite (this time it looks like it really is hematite). Another thing that I found is that the red earth on the trails is quite slippery when wet. I found this out the hard way. I was jumping from side to side on the trail. Suddenly, I felt my feet slipping out from underneath me and I landed on the rock hard clay! This was a fall out of sheer stupidity, because I did know it was slippery, just not how slippery. The second fall ... ! This one was just bad luck. I was still walking extra carefully because I had just fallen the first time, but somehow my feet slipped from underneath me and there I went ... ! Slipping again! At the end of the hike we arrived at the local hot springs, where we had parked the dingy. I went into the hot springs “hot tub” to make my aching muscles feel better, not to mention my bruises. I now have bruises on my legs, bum, stomach and arms.