Friends old and new (part 1)

One evening, a few days before Christmas, I happened to wander around Noumea’s Place des Cocotiers. I had met with Kane (my fellow traveller) and another guy called Jérémy to eat a falafel (slow and expensive, but delicious). Afterwards Kane was searching for some yoga friends in the crowded square, and I kind of followed him, not having anything else to do at that point. Then I heard someone call out my name.

I was very pleased to find that it was Sophie, whom I had met in 2014 during my first visit to New Caledonia. Sophie was in Place des Cocotiers together with her entire family, including her husband Daniel and their two children. It was lovely to have a little chat and to meet all these wonderful people. Had I not walked around the entire square three times, she might not have seen me among all those other people!

After a few minutes Daniel informed me that they would soon meet with some friends in a different part of the city centre. One of them, Stéphane, would surely be glad to meet me and to exchange a few words in German with me. At first I didn’t know what to say. Why should I want to speak German? Wasn’t I here to practice my French? My expectations were not particularly high at that point.

But when we saw Stéphane and his girlfriend Patricia, I immediately liked them. And I have to admit that it was good to speak German. It turned out that Stéphane’s mother is German. And then a most wonderful thing happened: Even though we had only just spoken for a couple of minutes, Stéphane invited me to stay at their place in Mont Koghis, a suburb of Nouméa. And as if that wasn’t enough already, he also suggested that I spend Christmas Eve together with him and his entire family at his mother’s place. Wow!

I thought this was very remarkable, and I still do. Especially since it wasn’t just me who was invited, but also Kane (who took the photos at the Christmas dinner table, by the way). I felt as if in a dream! Throughout the entire evening we spoke a wonderful mixture of French, German and English, and with Isabel (Stéphane’s mother) also Schwäbisch. Well, in fact she was the one who spoke immaculate Swabian German, not I…

It was a wonderful evening, and I felt most privileged to be part of it!

So Kane and I put up our tents in the garden of Stéphane and Patricia’s place and stayed there for the last couple of nights in New Caledonia. Once I visited Stéphane at his workplace, the aquarium des lagons in Nouméa.

Always worth a visit, even if you don’t know any member of staff!

Then I was asked if I could kindly take a few pictures of Patricia for her social media pages. DUH!

Patricia is a professional singer (this is her website: www.patriciasegui.com), and I felt very honoured, of course, to photograph her in her own garden.

And not just her, because after a while she was joined by Stéphane …

…and their four lovely dogs.

On my final evening in New Caledonia (December 27), I was invited to come along to the not-so-cheap Hotel Le Méridien in Nouméa. I saw many familiar faces there, I watched (and heard) Patricia perform French chansons, and I drank the most expensive beer ever. What a smashing evening, again!

So, yes, I am blessed with new friends now at the other side of the world! If everything goes according to plan, I will see Stéphane, Patricia and Isabel again this summer, as they are planning to visit Perpignan in France (Patricia’s hometown) as well as Stuttgart in Germany (where Isabel grew up) with a bit of Black Forest strewn in for good measure. I am already much looking forward to our reunion.

And who knows: maybe I will have the chance one day to stay in their newly built holiday appartment in Nouméa…? I definitely wouldn’t mind!

Published by Sebastian

Geographer, naturalist and photographer (www.schroeder-esch.de). Based in Germany, but always keen to travel and explore

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