Tender at the wharf

There were just 2 ports of call left before we arrived in Sydney, both in French New Caledonia.

Tender at the wharfArriving at the wharf at Easo

Once again we sailed for 2 nights and a day from Lautoka to Easo on Lifou (also spelt Lifu) Island. There was no harbour which could take the Cruise ship so we were once again tendered to the Island. There were excursions arranged by the ship and Trevor decided to go on the one to see the caves and I went to see what was described as the Vanilla Plantation and the Cliffs of Jokin. Sadly, we both returned feeling we had been misled even though we had seen some beautiful places and things.

The first of the excursions left at about 09:30 and it included Trevor’s group to the caves. While they were gone I walked around the little village close to the beach. As one arrived from the wharf there was a large cross up on the hill which had been planted by the first missionaries to the island. These Anglican and Roman Catholic Missionaries arrived in the mid-1800s and they taught the people to read and they built a school and a university.  

Cross planted by first missionariesThe cross planted by the missionaries

Local church 4The Roam Catholic Church on the main road

The village was quite interesting. I walked passed the back of a restaurant which looked as if it was falling down. Next to it was a very nice home and 2 upmarket cars. 

Rear of a restaurantRear of the restaurant

Owners home and vehiclesThe owner’s vehicles

I noticed that each home had a Totem Pole and some had names and in some cases were quite funny as was a sign for a club and its parking site.

Home with Totem and a nameA home with its Totem Pole and is named Tapaka

Funny signsSigns to the club and parking site

The trip to the caves group returned just before the Vanilla Plantation group departed so Trevor was able to give me the camera. When we discussed our excursions later we discovered that we had both been rather disappointed. The caves had been described as deep and dark with stalagmites and stalactites but it turned out that there was just one cave and it was more of a sinkhole. There was no way that anyone could climb down into the ‘cave’ safely and the stalagmites and stalactites were no more than small strips of scale and clay. The drive there and back as well as the walk to the caves was beautiful. They were also shown 2 types of traps set by hunters – one for crabs and the other for larger animals.

Animal trapAn animal trap 

crab trapA crab trap

Cave entrance 3Entrance to the cave

Once our group got going our guide gave us information on what we would see and we all expressed surprise when she said that our first stop was at the Botanic Gardens which had not been mentioned in the description given to us by the ship. On the bus I sat next to a gentleman, a retired Professor, who was so angry when he heard that we were not going to a vanilla plantation as we had been told. He even refused to get off the bus when we got there. Our guide had told us that the ‘plantation’ was at the far end of the Gardens so it was a bit of a walk which turned out to be along rather rough and difficult to walk on. When we arrived at the ‘plantation’ we discovered that there were all of 5 trees! The most beautiful thing to me was a huge air plant which grew across from 1 tree to another about 5 metres away.  Because we had been misled everyone on this excursion we were refunded 50% of the cost.  (We learnt later that the actual plantation was a 2 hour drive away). 

Vanilla plants 2Vamilla plants

Huge airplant 3The huge airplant

We were informed on the production of vanilla essence and it was interesting to learn that vanilla seeds had been introduced to New Caledonia by farmers from Mexico. The plants themselves took to the new ground with gusto as they spread almost wildly BUT New Caledonian bees are different did not from those of Mexico and so they refused the offer to pollinate the new flowers. Each flower has to be pollinated and then closed by hand. We finished this part of the excursion with a small cup of cold, vanilla flavoured tea. Not my ‘cup of tea’.

From there we drove for 20mins across the island to reach the coast where we would see lovely on corals in a clear aquamarine water and the Cliffs of Jokin. We stopped at the home of the local Chief and had coconut milk as refreshment. We were free to wander around the property without going into the home. The first interesting part of the stop was the ablution block. There were 2 doors from the outside of the small building on which there was no indication as to which was male or female. The ladies claimed the left side as once inside there was no difference.

Corals in seaCorals in the sea

Corals and cliffs of JokinPart of the Cliffs of Jokin

While walking around the grounds my first place to look and photograph was the corals and the cliffs. These were both really beautiful and worth the trip. Higher up a hill we discovered an interesting grave which had the inscription, “Jo Kin 1842-1992 with a key and a spear”. The meaning of this inscription is not clearly understood. I have Googled it but cannot find it. There were a few other graves but sadly all had been damaged.

Inscription on side of graveInscription on a grave

Next to the graves was a small Protestant Church which was very simply designed and furnished. We were told that it had an active congregation. Of the 10 000 population of this island, the majority of about 75% are Protestant, with about 20% Roman Catholics and then there are some who still have Pagan beliefs.

Ent and bell tower of churchEntrance and bell tower of the small protestant church 

As we returned to the wharf there was a covered shopping area where islanders were selling their wares. I found a lovely cool, cotton top and a magnet.

Services offered by the local peopleVarious services offered to visitors. Prices are in US$ and Aus$

Then it was time to return to the ship for a late lunch and an opportunity to read our books and rest for a while. We went out on board to watch as sail away from the island on our way to Tadin on Mare the next day.