It's the end of the month and now that the New Caledonia family have gone back to Tahiti, for the end of their holidays, everything seems incredibly peaceful! Here we are back to just us, and the grandparents on skype for entertainement.
We even have a few days peace and quiet, before the next trick, the salon du tourisme in Tahiti over the St. Valentine weekend. I've just managed to get a huge shipment of jams and monois onto the boat for sale at the salon, so I hope it's going to go well. I've also been spending a lot of time experimenting with my soaps, I'm nearly there....but not quite!
Heimana is coming on a storm, she's full of babble, if only you could understand the half of it! She's also getting to be quite the little menace, pinching and hitting her big sister, every time she doesn't get her way, Matotea dissolves into tears - a strange role-reversal!! So she's growing up in some ways, but not all........I'd heard about kids that breastfed 'til they were four, but I didn't think I'd have one of 'em, however, more than18 months on, Heimana still hasn't kicked the habit and seems more than a little reluctant to. She hardly fits on my lap any more and frankly, after 18 months, I'm feeling a bit tired of the whole lark, not to say leached of nutrients! Roll on february......


The elusive kagu and other New Caledonian memories

I've just been reminiscing about our trip to New Caledonia, back in 2004. I don't actually remember a great deal about it all, things get blurry when I go back beyond the last few years, maybe I'm getting older faster than I think!
New Caledonia lies between Australia and Fiji in The Pacific. I was there for a French science conference, held at the rather magnificent Tchibaou cultural center (left). But we also did make a quick dash to visit the southern forests. New Caledonia is a rather remarkable place in terms of biodiversity, there are extremely high levels of endemism. Having been sheared off the coast of Australia over 65 Mya, it retains many relictual lineages of plants and animals that have subsequently diversified and are mostly now extinct in Australia. An example is the kagu, a rather odd, endangered, quasi-flightless, ground-nesting bird that I did not manage to see in the wild, despite a very quick stop odd at the Riviere Bleue National Park. It's nearest living relative is thought to occur in South America.

New Caledonia also harbours the world's largest remaining nickel deposits, lots of tahitians left French Polynesia to work in the mines or in the logging business, there are also large tracts of relatively intact primary forest, with some BIG ol' trees. There is also a thriving tahitian community die by side with the indigenous melanesian kanak population and the caledoche (the name for the first french colonists, who are now several generations Caledonian). Viriamu's uncle worked as a lumberjack, now he is retired and makes 'mitihue' and 'ma'a tahiti' for sale at the weekend market.


New Caledonian family

Arrivals, the famil at Rurutu airport
The past couple of weeks the guesthouse has been taken over by the descending hordes of family from Nouméa (New Caledonia)! Viriamu and I had visited New Caledonia back in 2004 (way back when before the guesthouse and kids!!!), and now it was their turn to come and discover their roots.
 Viriamu's uncle came with his wife and seven children, with their significant others and grandkids, most of whom had never seen Rurutu.
 It was a total of 16 people squeezed into the pension, which was, how can I put it, intense. Of course Matotea and Heimana enjoyed the opportunity to spend lots of time at the beach, and while it wasn't always easy to share (particularly the swing-set) they enjoyed having friends to play with on hand 24/7.
The family were here during our annual 'Tere' festivities, the communal round-the-island tour complete with stone-lifting, decorated cars and dinner-dance......


The hammock

Ah what bliss! We've got a new hammock, it was a gift for Matotea, but I think it's fair to say that the whole family, and various other passers-by are enjoying the benefits.....we've put it up by the beach
opposite the house, it's a great place to escape the heat in the afternoon or chill out watching the sunset.
Viriamu and Gabriel put it up, it was no swing-set, but it still had its challenges!


Tattie Tracey

Tattie Tracey and her family have just left us, after a weeks'  holiday here, and life just seems
that little bit duller than before (but not for long, we have 16 members of Viriamu's family arriving from New Caledonia....tomorrow!).
It was a fun old New Year that we had here with Tattie Tracey and her family.......
Matotea, in particular just loved having the kids around......and Tattie Tracey is a big favourite too....
It was a much anticipated visit and Matotea even showed up at the airport to greet them dressed as a princess, for a royal welcome!


Matotea's snow(men)

Back in December my parents just made it back home, safe and sound, before they were completely snowed in.....a bit of a shock to the system after spending a month here with us. But in good form they
went straight out to build Matotea a snowman!
Which has really piqued Matotea's curosity about snow and what it's really like.....for our second Christmas celebration on the 30th, I bought some fake snow, Matotea and the daughters of our friends Tracey and Gabi (another British-Rurutu couple!) thought it was quite fun.
Matotea has her own snowman too, though fortunately he's not likely to melt anytime soon! Sometime soon I'll have to take her on an expedition to experience some REAL snow!


Ia ora na i te matahiti api 2011!

Wishing you all a prosperous and healthy new year, full of love and
happiness.......from all of us here in Rurutu!
More postings of our festive season shennanigans to come.........