Easo, Lifou, New Caledonia

Arriving at this small island, the cruise ship was unable to dock.  Passengers were taken back and forth to shore by four-60 passenger tenders (boats).  Moving nonstop throughout the day, the tenders accommodated the whims of the guest.   With 10,000 inhabitants and no industry, the appearance of cruise ships to the island has been a boon to the economy, but
there is no real infrastructure to support tourism.  No banks, money exchanges, hotels or restaurants are available.  What they do offer is friendly locals in an incredibly beautiful setting.  We were greeted at the dock by a group of men and women singing in one of the native dialects.  Offers for hair braiding and massages, followed by a market place, were our introduction to the island.  The market sells clothing, jewelry, handcrafts and food. 

Once on land, we purchased a mini tour of the island.  French is the primary language but our driver spoke some broken English.  Luckily, her English was far better than my decades old,

unused French.  Stopping along our tour at a produce market, we were surprised to find no item, except cabbage, recognizable to us.  The local bakery offered some enticing pastries and chocolates, but unfortunately, without French Pacific Francs, we were unable to make any purchases.  Catholic missionaries came to the island in the 1850’s and 2 large churches can be seen within a half mile of the bay where the ship was anchored.  We stopped to visit one of the churches along with a nearby native grass hut.  The huts were still being used until very recently.  Similarly built huts are still used as meeting places.

Santal and Jinek Bays offer swimming and snorkeling.  Alan snorkeled at Jinek for an hour or so.  Upon leaving the water, he claimed this to be the most outstanding snorkeling of the trip.  A colorful variety of corals and fish were available.  Sunburned and weary, we returned to the ship, on to a new port tomorrow.  

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