- 13 janvier 2017
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Why I didn’t like living in Nouméa
We left New Caledonia for some time now, after staying one and a half year, just enough to be able to make a point on our life, and tell you why I did not like living to Nouméa.
In our article “one year already”, we already made a first point on our feelings, it is not easy to speak about what does not please us while everybody thinks that we are in paradise …
I already hear you … “She only complains” or still “it is paradise, what you takin’ about?” … I stop you now, this article concerns only ME, my feelings, my experiences.
Some of these feelings will be shared, others not, but each lives his life and makes its own experiences according to its own desires and his own history. But know that many of these feelings are shared by various people whom we met on the spot, of various population and with various life stories …
New Caledonia is paradise for a lot, but attention, it is not eldorado that it was whether it is about work or about the standard of living. I think that contrary to some who arrive here a little bit accidentally, I certainly a little idealized this country with the memories of my child’s perspective. (See our article on our decision to leave)
I think we told you enough about why we loved to live here, to tell you now what we liked less!
Then why I did not like living to Nouméa ?
A difficult melting-pot
A very sensitive subject but we can only notice when we arrive in New Caledonia.
There is little or no melting-pot between communities, and too many metropolitans in Nouméa. This is very noticeable when you go out to have a drink on bays, for sure, you will not meet many Melanesians, some wallisiens, even less of Asians …
The Melanesians, the wallisiens, the white New Caledonians, the zoreilles (metropolitans), each stays in their corner without being really interested in the culture of other one. Some metropolitan do not know a single Melanesian. Unless a few they meet in stores or at work, but it remains superficial relations.
I didn’t came to New Caledonia for this.
To get an idea of what have the other cultures to be offered, we often needs to go to the bush or go on the islands. There you can share with the New Caledonian, their culture and try to understand them, not to stay in its corner, at the edge of the beach of its luxury hotel, far from the real lives of people of the island.
Loss of the culture
The Kanak culture is not saved by the modernity.
It is blatant to see the young people leaving tribes and losing interest in the custom. In town, the custom is almost non-existent, even if certain families manage to maintain it with difficulty. It’s a pity, because the Melanesian culture is rich and structured.
The Melanesian hierarchy, which works well outside the city, is soiled by a complex identity under the influence of the modernity. An indifference which affects first of all the young people who often meet problems of lack of schooling, violence, crime or alcoholism, in brief, balance is very difficult to find.
Fortunately there are still some “wise men” who allow the custom to survive, and the history to remain very present in the heart and the head of people. We shall never thank enough Jules for his time spent with us and for having shared with us a little of its story.
An uncertain political situation
The political situation of New Caledonia is complex, and tarnished by a bloody history, the Melanesians of which have not digested the outcome yet. The stigmas of the colonization are omnipresent and summarized well by the agreement of Nouméa which suggests finding a political solution between the loyal supporters and the freedom fighters, in a ” common fate “.
In the reality it is more complicated, in 2018 will be voted a referendum of independence, for whom, only New Caledonian, present on the territory before 1998 can participate (one not had already been voted in 2014). Social relationships are often tightened (often stretched out), and the spirits warm up fast between law enforcement and young people in lack of mark.
The country holds its breath… And so do we…
Looking forward to a decision, everybody continues his life, but 2018 stays in the spirits, and it is difficult to put a lot when we know that we shall be kicked out, some day, by the country. It is also what makes that HERE will never be “our home”…
When I hear people who are there for more than 30 years tell me that they do not feel home and know that they will never be, it makes me sad… Each have a place somewhere, apparently ours is not in New Caledonia, in any case not in these conditions. (Never say never eh?!)
An omnipresent racism
Yes, it is necessary to say it, I come from a protected enough city in France, and I never had (or little) myself confronted with racism.
The racism in New Caledonia is not a legend, it exists and we were often confronted with it. But here, the racism is on behalf of all and to all : everybody hates everybody or almost. European New Caledonians (descendants of French colonists), Melanesians, wallisiens, zoreilles… It is one of reasons that makes that the mixing is little in New Caledonia. Often on the tone of a joke, but sometimes very hard to live…
As if people had forgotten where they come from…
But the worst of everything, and what irritates me excessively, is the metropolitans who insult other metropolitans and tell them to go back home… As if people had forgotten where they come from and that they also came through it… Not, just like us, ” you are not at home, and you will never be “.
A small reminder to those who would have forgotten it, you are considered as tourists until one year and a day of presence on the territory, then remember by where you passed before criticizing, and respect premises and what they have to offer you.
A very present insecurity
For all the reasons that I quoted previously, we often feel in insecurity in New Caledonia. Then yes, it is not Africa either, or as in Mayotte, but I never felt really safety, especially at night. Without making a majority, passed a time, when the alcohol begins to pour, spirit warm up and it’s then better not to be in the area.
I admit that being “assaulted” (everything finished well, feel reassured) in a bus stop on the first week on the territory, did not help me to be in confidence… We do not count any more news items, and sometimes even that affect people who are close to us, making all this finally more real, difficult to live and to accept. Often we do not even dare to tell our political thoughts concerning the independence, simply to speak about it and be interested in it, not knowing how is going to react the person in front of us (it shows real-life experience and it is not cool).
In all this is added the road insecurity, New Caledonia holds an sad record of deaths on the road, even not appearing in the statistics of France. A real stress every time we took the car, even if the roads are short, an accident very fast arrived, and they are often mortal…
For proof, our last road to the airport did not escape the rule : a very dangerous overtaking without visibility on a white line in front of us, and an accident on the opposite side with a motorcyclist on the ground…
A recurring pollution
New Caledonia is very late in what concerns the ecological questions.
Even if efforts are made these last years, it is very difficult to set up, and to change in mind of all.
The selective sorting is little made, and people often took us for fools to have three bins of sorting at home… Yes the sorting is made on the island, maybe not as much as in other countries, but know that waste reception centers in Nouméa are opened from Monday to Saturday. More and more united actions are launched everywhere and are only waiting for you to move forward.
Furthermore, it is not rare any more to hear on the radio that such or such beach is closed because of pollution (most of the time due to the overpopulation of the bays), and I do not speak about distressing views on the beaches the days of big rains. There are trash cans everywhere, the beach is not a trash can, and neither fishes nor turtles eat plastic or paper…
In all this adds the air pollution which the SLN (Society (Company) Le Nikel) causes every day, to which is added numerous pick-up and 4×4 all more polluting than other and often so useless in city center…
A very expensive life
As many island countries, the life is expensive in New Caledonia. It is understandable, but what is less, is the exaggerated taxes which exist on the territory as well as certain exaggerated monopolies. Sometimes more than 40 % of taxes on all which is not produced in New Caledonia… As for example the taxes of exit of the territory, to go on holiday is not given to everybody.
An important disparity in the wealth distribution
What shocks me even more is the big disparities which exist in the wealth distribution. I am not going to complain, I made well enough my living, but I have difficulty understanding the differences which can be between two salaries and two jobs sometimes not so different. The minimum wage is lower than in mainland France, for a life sometimes until 1,5 times as expensive, with almost non-existent social benefits (knowing that like everywhere, those who take advantage of it are often the ones who less need it but that it is another debate!).
In Nouméa we can go from a district with big luxurious Beverly Hills villas, to squats on the roadside either hidden in lands without electricity, nor tap water.
Very often nothing is worth the life in bush or on the islands where everything is simpler.
Finally in Nouméa, we may have the impression all the time to be on holidays, we enter fast a routine of life as in mainland France. We often go out to the same places, with the same people.
Friendships are fast, numerous, but also often very superficial.
We arrive all here for a certain reason, and for a while or not, but rare are people who stay. In these conditions, it is rather difficult to find its place, especially when we think to the friends that we left in France, and which are lacking every moments.
In reality, I believe that I did not like the fact of having the impression to be always in France, but has thousands of kilometers of people which are dear to us, a lot of distance, but finally not much disorientation.
It is an error we made, because of the safety of my job, and because I had the position I wanted, but if we could do it again, we would leave more quickly for bush or on the loyalties. Nouméa is good, but you should not remain locked there.
New Caledonia does not resume to Nouméa
A reserved picture, which did not prevent to us from making great meetings and from spending incredible moments.
Yes New Caledonia is all this, but it is also an incredible relaxed rhythm of life, breathtaking landscapes protected from the mass tourism, the magnificent and protected sea bed, the possibility to make activities that you would not have made somewhere else.
New Caledonia is a country of contrast, but it’s also this 😉 that makes the charm !
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