Last Saturday (last week, i.e. before my trip to Lifou island) I was invited to a birthday party. My friend Larissa, whom I got to know back in June 2014 and with whom I’ve kept contact ever since, organised a party for her son Nolly’s fifth birthday. All the family and many friends from the tribe were there, and so was I! It felt like really I was the one who had received a huge present.
I went to the place outside Nouméa some time around noon. It was hot and windy and very dry. The first thing I noticed was a huge, yellow bouncing castle that had been placed in the middle of everything. It was uninhabited then, but that was to change later… The bigger attraction at that moment was the inflatable swimming pool which was there too, and heavily frequented by people from all walks of life, mostly between two and seven years old.
I understood immediately that this would be a memorable day not only for Nolly, my „frangin“, but also for me!
I was there for maybe seven hours altogether. People came and went, there was plenty of food and toys for the kids, and the atmosphere was just wonderful. Old and young together, everyone having fun, everybody seeming to enjoy the presence of the others.
I almost envied Nolly for having such a great party for his birthday. Larissa and her husband Arnold had been to New Zealand recently (their honeymoon!) and they had brought loads of themed decoration, including all kinds of marvel comic merch stuff to put on the birthday cake.
That was actually the best part, at least for me: I was amongst wonderful people, I was allowed to use my camera for those incredible photo moments, AND: I got to eat altogether three huge chunks of that delicious cake.
By the way, I know exactly I had three slices. So did everybody else, because Larissa did a great job in counting and then telling everyone. In case she wanted to embarrass me in front of everybody else, she failed!!!
Some more impressions:
Towards the later afternoon, I was invited on a little tour of the hills that belong to the Naniouni tribe. There were four of us, and the atmosphere then was very different all of a sudden. Still very positive and friendly, but a lot calmer and even solemn.
I have noticed (on that particular afternoon, but also on various other occasions), that Kanak people seem to enjoy places overlooking the landscape. Just to stand there, let the gaze drift across the scenery, talk, contemplate. We did that a lot during our little tour! And it was magical.
I feel I’m repeating myself over and over again. This surely must get boring at some point! But I really want to express my deep gratitude for this unforgettable day and all the encounters I had.
So thank you, Larissa, for inviting me; thank you, Nolly, frangin, for having me at your party; thank you, Arnold, for showing me around your house and for answering all those questions I asked; and thank you, everyone else, for making it so easy and enjoyable for me to spend those hours in your midst.