Ouvéa, New Caledonia

Between Loyalty and Freedom

shark fishing
David holds a freshly caught fish among sharks.
New Attempt II
Young kanak casts a fishing net in the blue sea of ​​Mouli.
End of the day tropical
Sun sets over Ouvéa and, in a little while, the surrounding South Pacific.
South Pacific leftovers
Tourists enjoy the clear sea of ​​Lékiny Bay, shortly after visiting the grotto of the Virgin.
Ouvéa family
William's brother-in-law sister and nephews.
Celine and yours
Céline with her children and William.
creative tidying up
Bicycles hanging from a tree over the sea in the Strait of Mouli.
dresses accordingly
Céline's dresses hanging in the cabin she lives in.
couple outing
Céline and William enter one of the perfect beaches in Ouvéa.
easy snack
William prepares a quick late-afternoon meal.
the old church
Natives walk by an old chapel on the coast of Ouvéa.
Pleiades corner
Seductive sea off an islet in the southern Pleiades sub-archipelago.
Geological formation contains a crystalline marine lagoon, Lekiny Bay.
New try
A young native casts a net in the waters of Lekiny Bay.
Family and friends
Céline, William and David at the door of the couple's cabin.
Celine, William & Co.
Céline, William and friends in the bow of a speedboat, heading to the Pleiades sub-archipelago.
New Caledonia has always questioned integration into faraway France. On the island of Ouvéa, Loyalty Archipelago, we find an history of resistance but also natives who prefer French-speaking citizenship and privileges.

We had just landed in what we thought was the furthest reaches of New Caledonia when Céline shows up, introduces herself and informs us that she's going to take us a little further.

She and her circle of family and friends enjoyed the maritime refuge of the Northern Pleiades, a sub-archipelago of the Loyalty Islands which, after being located on the map, seems to us to have been left over from the prehistoric collapse of a large atoll.

From the airport, we go straight to Saint Joseph, at the northern end of Ouvéa. An already cohesive group awaits us, formed by her husband, William, and some companions.

We go aboard a powerful boat that Skipper Jeoffrey maneuvers between rocky and shallow islets, almost all of them inhospitable.

Motorboat passengers, Ouvéa Island-Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia

Céline, William and friends in the bow of a speedboat, heading to the Pleiades sub-archipelago.

A Nautical Tour through the islanders of the Northern Pleiades

We make strategic stops at points with crystal clear water and coral bottom for refreshing dives and some underwater exploration, until the late hour and the energy spent on the exercise call for lunch.

Céline confirms that, over there, you only eat fresh fish. He immediately ordered the service of two of the men on board to capture the specimens to be cooked.

David – William's right hand man – and another friend put on the masks, fins and hunting rifles. They go out to swim towards a coral bank populated by numerous fish. We use the remaining equipment to keep up with them.

In a short time, hunters catch the first specimens, but the group is numerous and more are needed. As they hit shots, the wounded fish shed blood that spreads into the water and attracts intruders.

Between Corals and Sharks

The natives notice the arrival of the first fearful silhouettes but continue with the mission. More blood is spread. The gliding figures multiply and approach the humans in squeezing circles.

David notices our presence. He signals for us to get on the boat immediately. When we return to the surface, Céline and the others, already worried, clap their hands in the water and shout our names.

We shelter from sharks under the protection of hunters who, despite having left two fish behind, continue to harass them.

Spearfishing, Ouvéa Island, Loyalty Islands-New Caledonia

David holds a freshly caught fish among sharks.

David finally appears beside the boat and asks his friends on board to collect the catch: “Hold on to this quick! They are down here. When several hammers appear, the thing is no longer to be played with.”

The hunters still haven't caught their breath but Jeoffrey puts the speedboat in motion. Along the way, they explain to us that encounters with sharks are very frequent in the tropical waters around Ouvéa and even more so in the Pleiades area.

“But you shouldn't be too scared either”, underlines David. “So far we've only had two accidents. One of the victims received 70 stitches in one arm.

The other was left with a slightly disfigured face. No one died." We understand your point of view but are hesitant to agree. In the meantime, we arrived at an island with an open white sand and disembarked in one of the most welcoming bays of that sub-archipelago.

Insular Meal in Ouvéa Fashion

The four men cook the fish in banana leaves, with corn and avocado. When everything is ready, Céline and we eat first, the others will watch. Céline assures us that it's like that, in those parts: the priority to the guests.

We suspected that, because of the sharks, the hunters had brought fewer fish and the hosts wanted to make sure we ate enough. It wouldn't be for Céline that it wouldn't happen.

Celine, William and David, Ouvéa Island-Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia

Céline, William and David at the door of the couple's cabin.

Fed up with life in the metropolis, she had moved to that other-mér territory for ten years, Céline had been married to William with whom she had 3 children aged 1, 2 and 7. I only traveled from Ouvéa to Nice to see the family once a year with the children. William never accompanied her.

The flights of the natives of New Caledonia to the metropolis are considered fun – there are only discounts between islands of New Caledonia – and, as such, too expensive. On the other hand, it also gives us the idea that the husband is not very willing.

The Controversial Relationship between Ouvéa and the French Metropolis

Ouvéa, like the other Loyalty Islands, has always been a bastion of the struggle for independence in New Caledonia, interrupted in 1988 with the signing of the Matignon agreements (revised in the 1998 Nouméa agreement) which validated the incorporation into the French Republic through a strong autonomy and the holding of a referendum between 2014 and 2018.

All this overseas territory was the scene of violent clashes between 1984-88. This conflict culminated precisely in Ouvéa, in April and May 88, with what became known as Prize d'otages.

During this period, Kanak independence activists and members of the FLNKS (National Socialist Liberation Front Kanak) attacked the island's police and held its 31 members hostage.

Old Church of Ouvéa-Loyalty Islands-New Caledonia

Natives walk by an old church on the coast of Ouvéa, historical symbol of the French-speaking presence in the Loyalty Islands.

The Revolt and the Drama of Ouvéa's Prise d'otages

But one of the officers refused arrest. He fired on the rebels and led to a small massacre, the disarming and imprisonment of the 27 surviving officers.

Meanwhile, Paris sent elite troops to resolve the unforeseen events that were also worsening on the neighboring islands of Lifou and Tide.

Huge confusion ensued between the then President François Mitterrand, the Prime Minister and the political entourage of his official residence at the Hotel Matignon.

On the 5th of May, the military launched the operation, allegedly without the knowledge of the Eliseu, and freed the hostages from the cave in which they were being held prisoner.

Silhouettes Falaise de Lekiny, Ouvéa Island-Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia

A tourism only possible because of the Matignon agreements: outsiders enjoy the clear sea of ​​Lékiny Bay.

Members of the FLNKS and other independence activists accused the troops of having summarily executed or voluntarily let die some of the kidnappers after the assault, after they had already released 10 prisoners and while awaiting clarification of the political situation to release the rest.

Shortly thereafter, Mitterrand was re-elected and the new Prime Minister Michel Rochard constituted a dialogue mission charged with pacifying the discussion between loyalists and independentists.

This mission led to the Matignon agreements – signed by FLNKS leader Jean-Marie Tjibaou – and a general amnesty for the kidnappers and the military involved in the conflict.

A year later, during the first evocation of the tragedy in Ouvéa, Tjibaou is assassinated by Djubelly Wéa, an independence kanak who has always opposed the agreement. The decision on the future of New Caledonia was postponed but resentment settled in the minds of many natives.

The Gentle Kanak Hospitality of the Loyalty Islands, via Céline

Returning from the Pleiades, Céline invites us for a coffee at the Grande gite (hut) of the William family. His father received us with warmth and offered us bread that he made.

We see how the French woman has adapted to her new semi-tribal existence and sharing space even with her mother-in-law, who seems to exercise a certain matriarchal domain and keeps her long kanak dresses hanging exuberantly from the straw roof.

Dresses in traditional gite, Ouvéa Island-Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia

Céline's dresses hang in the gite she shares with William and his children.

Not all elders offer the welcome that the father-in-law had given us.

Céline accompanies us to Pointe Escarpée and on several other trips around the island, on top of the family pick-up truck.

We are supposed to return, the following afternoon, to the capital Nouméa and it is she who leaves us at the airport but, as we have time, we stop by gite from William's sister who had taken care of the three children of the tab.

Resentment against the "settlers" that lingers in the Loyalty Islands

His welcome is also cordial, but the head of this family soon turns out to be an angry man, not happy with the visit of outsiders.

We sat on folk rugs and drank iced coffee. The conversation flows over a wide range of subjects, but the bearded kanak remains apart, alienated and suspicious. His posture is in stark contrast to that of his good-natured wife. She doesn't give a smile to sympathy, not even when Céline speaks.

Native family, Ouvéa Island-Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia

William's brother-in-law sister and nephews.

Marjorie and Robert. A Franco-Kanak Couple Fighting for Life in Ouvéa

The time is approaching for us to go to Hulup airport but Celine makes a final stop at the gite of some artist neighbors who worry her. “They do what they can to hold on but it's not easy. They are very young, they already have a daughter and everything is so expensive here!

They go through a lot of difficulties with what they earn just selling the sculptures. On top of that, their house is poorly insulated. They are bitten too often and dengue torments them”.

Marjorie appears with her daughter Sanjana and shows us some tribal sculptures at her business stand. Shortly after, Robert appears, visibly sleepy and absorbed.

We confirmed Céline's information. These are children.

Network launch, Falaise de Lekiny-Island of Ouvéa-Islands Loyalty, New Caledonia

Young kanak casts a fishing net in the blue sea of ​​Mouli.

Marjorie is native, a little older. Robert has the blond and pure look of anyone Metro (born in mainland France). He hardly seems to have entered adolescence.

“His parents returned to Nouméa and made sure he went too.”, tells us Céline. "Never wanted." He loves Marjorie and the girl.

He steadied his feet and stayed, but they just survive. On top of that, they got used to smoking weed to alleviate the difficulties. It can be very complicated, life around here.”

We realized that freedom comes at a very high price in Ouvéa.

The Matignon accords provided for a referendum in the next few years. For the natives, the main question is how much this price will rise if New Caledonia, the Loyalty Islands and Ouvéa, in particular, decide to sacrifice French rule.

Coconut trees, Ouvéa Island-Lealdade Islands, New Caledonia

Sun sets over Ouvéa and, in a little while, the surrounding South Pacific.

Harare, Zimbabwewe

The Last Rales of Surreal Mugabué

In 2015, Zimbabwe's first lady Grace Mugabe said the 91-year-old president would rule until the age of 100 in a special wheelchair. Shortly thereafter, it began to insinuate itself into his succession. But in recent days, the generals have finally precipitated the removal of Robert Mugabe, who has replaced him with former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
LifouLoyalty Islands

The Greatest of the Loyalties

Lifou is the island in the middle of the three that make up the semi-francophone archipelago off New Caledonia. In time, the Kanak natives will decide if they want their paradise independent of the distant metropolis.
Tahiti, French Polynesia

Tahiti Beyond the Cliché

Neighbors Bora Bora and Maupiti have superior scenery but Tahiti has long been known as paradise and there is more life on the largest and most populous island of French Polynesia, its ancient cultural heart.
Honiara e Gizo, Solomon Islands

The Profaned Temple of the Solomon Islands

A Spanish navigator baptized them, eager for riches like those of the biblical king. Ravaged by World War II, conflicts and natural disasters, the Solomon Islands are far from prosperity.
Morro de São Paulo, Brazil

A Divine Seaside of Bahia

Three decades ago, it was just a remote and humble fishing village. Until some post-hippie communities revealed the Morro's retreat to the world and promoted it to a kind of bathing sanctuary.

Formosa but Unsafe

Portuguese navigators could not imagine the imbroglio reserved for the Formosa they baptized. Nearly 500 years later, even though it is uncertain of its future, Taiwan still prospers. Somewhere between independence and integration in greater China.
Grande Terre, New Caledonia

South Pacific Great Boulder

James Cook thus named distant New Caledonia because it reminded him of his father's Scotland, whereas the French settlers were less romantic. Endowed with one of the largest nickel reserves in the world, they named Le Caillou the mother island of the archipelago. Not even its mining prevents it from being one of the most dazzling patches of Earth in Oceania.
Papeete, French Polynesia

The Third Sex of Tahiti

Heirs of Polynesian ancestral culture, the Mahu they preserve an unusual role in society. Lost somewhere between the two genders, these men-women continue to fight for the meaning of their lives.
Maupiti, French Polynesia

A Society on the Margin

In the shadow of neighboring Bora Bora's near-global fame, Maupiti is remote, sparsely inhabited and even less developed. Its inhabitants feel abandoned but those who visit it are grateful for the abandonment.
Île-des-Pins, New Caledonia

The Island that Leaned against Paradise

In 1964, Katsura Morimura delighted the Japan with a turquoise novel set in Ouvéa. But the neighboring Île-des-Pins has taken over the title "The Nearest Island to Paradise" and thrills its visitors.
Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, Wildlife, lions
NP Gorongosa, Mozambique

The Wild Heart of Mozambique shows Signs of Life

Gorongosa was home to one of the most exuberant ecosystems in Africa, but from 1980 to 1992 it succumbed to the Civil War waged between FRELIMO and RENAMO. Greg Carr, Voice Mail's millionaire inventor received a message from the Mozambican ambassador to the UN challenging him to support Mozambique. For the good of the country and humanity, Carr pledged to resurrect the stunning national park that the Portuguese colonial government had created there.
Mount Lamjung Kailas Himal, Nepal, altitude sickness, mountain prevent treat, travel
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 2th - Chame a Upper BananaNepal

(I) Eminent Annapurnas

We woke up in Chame, still below 3000m. There we saw, for the first time, the snowy and highest peaks of the Himalayas. From there, we set off for another walk along the Annapurna Circuit through the foothills and slopes of the great mountain range. towards Upper Banana.
Treasures, Las Vegas, Nevada, City of Sin and Forgiveness
Architecture & Design
Las Vegas, USA

Where sin is always forgiven

Projected from the Mojave Desert like a neon mirage, the North American capital of gaming and entertainment is experienced as a gamble in the dark. Lush and addictive, Vegas neither learns nor regrets.
Passengers, scenic flights-Southern Alps, New Zealand
Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand

The Aeronautical Conquest of the Southern Alps

In 1955, pilot Harry Wigley created a system for taking off and landing on asphalt or snow. Since then, his company has unveiled, from the air, some of the greatest scenery in Oceania.
Jumping forward, Pentecost Naghol, Bungee Jumping, Vanuatu
Ceremonies and Festivities
Pentecost Island, Vanuatu

Pentecost Naghol: Bungee Jumping for Real Men

In 1995, the people of Pentecostes threatened to sue extreme sports companies for stealing the Naghol ritual. In terms of audacity, the elastic imitation falls far short of the original.
Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

The Legacy of an Historic Shuttle

The founding of Colónia do Sacramento by the Portuguese generated recurrent conflicts with their spanish rivals. Until 1828, this fortified square, now sedative, changed sides again and again.
Fogón de Lola, great food, Costa Rica, Guápiles
Fogón de Lola Costa Rica

The Flavor of Costa Rica of El Fogón de Lola

As the name suggests, the Fogón de Lola de Guapiles serves dishes prepared on the stove and in the oven, according to Costa Rican family tradition. In particular, Tia Lola's.
Tombola, street bingo-Campeche, Mexico
Campeche, Mexico

A Bingo so playful that you play with puppets

On Friday nights, a group of ladies occupy tables at Independencia Park and bet on trifles. The tiniest prizes come out to them in combinations of cats, hearts, comets, maracas and other icons.
Spectator, Melbourne Cricket Ground-Rules footbal, Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne, Australia

The Football the Australians Rule

Although played since 1841, Australian Football has only conquered part of the big island. Internationalization has never gone beyond paper, held back by competition from rugby and classical football.
Sunset, Avenue of Baobabs, Madagascar
Morondava, Avenue of Baobabs, Madagascar

The Malagasy Way to Dazzle

Out of nowhere, a colony of baobab trees 30 meters high and 800 years old flanks a section of the clayey and ocher road parallel to the Mozambique Channel and the fishing coast of Morondava. The natives consider these colossal trees the mothers of their forest. Travelers venerate them as a kind of initiatory corridor.
São Nicolau, Cape Verde

Photography of Nha Terra São Nicolau

The voice of the late Cesária Verde crystallized the feeling of Cape Verdeans who were forced to leave their island. who visits São Nicolau or, wherever it may be, admires images that illustrate it well, understands why its people proudly and forever call it their land.
ice tunnel, black gold route, Valdez, Alaska, USA
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

Sensations vs Impressions

Guardian, Stalin Museum, Gori, Georgia
Upplistsikhe e Gori, Georgia

From the Cradle of Georgia to Stalin's Childhood

In the discovery of the Caucasus, we explore Uplistsikhe, a troglodyte city that preceded Georgia. And just 10km away, in Gori, we find the place of the troubled childhood of Joseb Jughashvili, who would become the most famous and tyrant of Soviet leaders.
Cable car Achadas da Cruz to Quebrada Nova, Madeira Island, Portugal
Paul do Mar a Ponta do Pargo a Achadas da Cruz, Madeira, Portugal

Discovering the Madeira Finisterre

Curve after curve, tunnel after tunnel, we arrive at the sunny and festive south of Paul do Mar. We get goosebumps with the descent to the vertiginous retreat of Achadas da Cruz. We ascend again and marvel at the final cape of Ponta do Pargo. All this, in the western reaches of Madeira.
ala juumajarvi lake, oulanka national park, finland
Winter White
Kuusamo ao PN Oulanka, Finland

Under the Arctic's Icy Spell

We are at 66º North and at the gates of Lapland. In these parts, the white landscape belongs to everyone and to no one like the snow-covered trees, the atrocious cold and the endless night.
Visitors to Ernest Hemingway's Home, Key West, Florida, United States
Key West, United States

Hemingway's Caribbean Playground

Effusive as ever, Ernest Hemingway called Key West "the best place I've ever been...". In the tropical depths of the contiguous US, he found evasion and crazy, drunken fun. And the inspiration to write with intensity to match.
Herd in Manang, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna Circuit: 8th Manang, Nepal

Manang: the Last Acclimatization in Civilization

Six days after leaving Besisahar we finally arrived in Manang (3519m). Located at the foot of the Annapurna III and Gangapurna Mountains, Manang is the civilization that pampers and prepares hikers for the ever-dreaded crossing of Thorong La Gorge (5416 m).
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Flock of flamingos, Laguna Oviedo, Dominican Republic
Natural Parks
Oviedo Lagoon, Dominican Republic

The (very alive) Dominican Republic Dead Sea

The hypersalinity of the Laguna de Oviedo fluctuates depending on evaporation and water supplied by rain and the flow coming from the neighboring mountain range of Bahoruco. The natives of the region estimate that, as a rule, it has three times the level of sea salt. There, we discover prolific colonies of flamingos and iguanas, among many other species that make up one of the most exuberant ecosystems on the island of Hispaniola.
UNESCO World Heritage
Hungduan, Philippines

Country Style Philippines

The GI's left with the end of World War II, but the music from the interior of the USA that they heard still enlivens the Cordillera de Luzon. It's by tricycle and at your own pace that we visit the Hungduan rice terraces.
aggie gray, Samoa, South Pacific, Marlon Brando Fale
Apia, Western Samoa

The Host of the South Pacific

She sold burguês to GI's in World War II and opened a hotel that hosted Marlon Brando and Gary Cooper. Aggie Gray passed away in 2. Her legacy lives on in the South Pacific.
Moorea aerial view
Moorea, French Polynesia

The Polynesian Sister Any Island Would Like to Have

A mere 17km from Tahiti, Moorea does not have a single city and is home to a tenth of its inhabitants. Tahitians have long watched the sun go down and transform the island next door into a misty silhouette, only to return to its exuberant colors and shapes hours later. For those who visit these remote parts of the Pacific, getting to know Moorea is a double privilege.
Aurora lights up the Pisang Valley, Nepal.
Annapurna Circuit: 3rd- Upper Banana, Nepal

An Unexpected Snowy Aurora

At the first glimmers of light, the sight of the white mantle that had covered the village during the night dazzles us. With one of the toughest walks on the Annapurna Circuit ahead of us, we postponed the match as much as possible. Annoyed, we left Upper Pisang towards Escort when the last snow faded.
End of the World Train, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
On Rails
Ushuaia, Argentina

Last Station: End of the World

Until 1947, the Tren del Fin del Mundo made countless trips for the inmates of the Ushuaia prison to cut firewood. Today, passengers are different, but no other train goes further south.
emperor akihito waves, emperor without empire, tokyo, japan
Tokyo, Japan

The Emperor Without Empire

After the capitulation in World War II, Japan underwent a constitution that ended one of the longest empires in history. The Japanese emperor is, today, the only monarch to reign without empire.
Ditching, Alaska Fashion Life, Talkeetna
Daily life
Talkeetna, Alaska

Talkeetna's Alaska-Style Life

Once a mere mining outpost, Talkeetna rejuvenated in 1950 to serve Mt. McKinley climbers. The town is by far the most alternative and most captivating town between Anchorage and Fairbanks.
Curieuse Island, Seychelles, Aldabra turtles
Felicité Island and Curieuse Island, Seychelles

From Leprosarium to Giant Turtles Home

In the middle of the XNUMXth century, it remained uninhabited and ignored by Europeans. The French Ship Expedition “La Curieuse” revealed it and inspired his baptism. The British kept it a leper colony until 1968. Today, Île Curieuse is home to hundreds of Aldabra tortoises, the longest-lived land animal.
The Sounds, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Fiordland, New Zealand

The Fjords of the Antipodes

A geological quirk made the Fiordland region the rawest and most imposing in New Zealand. Year after year, many thousands of visitors worship the sub-domain slashed between Te Anau and Milford Sound.