4 June 2015
We continued our drive to the northern end of Grande Terre, our destination being Hotel Malabou Beach. It was a grey and overcast kind of day, with rain in the early morning but not much for the rest of the day - just grey with low hanging clouds, covering the tops of the mountains as we drove along.
We knew that Malabou was a tiny town, so we stopped in Koumac to buy some groceries and fill the gas tank. Our map indicates what towns have gas stations - some of the towns are so small, gas isn't available. The northern end of the island is less densely populated, and the farther north one goes, the less populated it is.
Anyway, I was totally impressed with the bread options.
So we wound around hills, up and down, glimpses of the lagoon in the distance, dodging one-way bridges and friendly dogs. Suddenly, there was the sign for the Hotel Malabou Beach, we turned and followed the signs, and we hit paradise.
The hotel is comprised of bungalows - little houses that look tiny on the outside, but inside they have either twin beds or one king, built in cupboards behind the bed with lights, storage shelves, a full closet, hot water pot for tea and coffee, a safe, etc. The bathroom is well-designed so there's room to move, but it isn't huge. There's a couch, coffee table, tv, desk and chair. All the mod cons like AC, fan, tons of indirect light, and free wifi. Thatched roof, but it really is just for show, there's treated plywood underneath so no insects. A wood deck on the front with lounge chairs, perfect for reading or just watching the view.
And the view! Really, just across the lawn, maybe all of 30 yards (or meters), right THERE is the beach! A long flat stretch of fine pale grey sand, with ripples from the outgoing tide, and fascinating shells, and the occasional crab scuttling by. The beach!
Plus, at high tide, the water is nearly lapping the edge of the lawn! There's maybe 12 inches (30-35 cm) of beach and then the water! And that little bit of beach becomes cluttered with debris from the trees and the ocean, somewhat protecting the lawn from the ocean water. (It's just a day or two off the full moon, so high tide is probably a bit extra high right now. But I seriously wonder if they have problems during extra high tides. And if there's a tsunami, these lovely bungalows are in big trouble!)
We loved the placed immediately. By early evening we agreed to book another night here, it was that great. Comfortable, roomy, a decent price if booked online, and we have plenty of food from the supermarket. Plus there's a little "snack bar" on the island attached to the property by a sand bar and bridge, serving sandwiches and lighter food during mid-day. (Geologically, it looks like a tombolo but really isn't, since at high tide the sand bar is underwater.)
We had a great time walking around the property and along the beach - the temperatures are in the mid 70s F (20 C), so very comfortable. But there's a strong wind that blows in from the ocean, since the lagoon has a large opening in the barrier reef and islands nearby. Also, the bay is facing into the wind. It was sort of like stormy weather without the rain, just grey clouds and the wild wind.
There were wonderful shells on the beach; since I no longer hold on to things like shells, I just take photos of them.
And then I found a turtle shell. Not the entire shell, just one scale. Which, I found out, is called a scute. (Rhymes with cute.)
This was sad. I figured it must have come from a dead sea turtle. Who are already endangered species. Who we've met and protected while they were laying eggs in Costa Rica. Who are my favorite animal to see while swimming or diving.
I talked to the guy at the reception desk, and he said yes, every so often, maybe once or twice a year, a turtle carcass washes ashore, apparently partially eaten by a shark. We talked about how sad that was.
So I took my turtle scute back to the beach, and said the mourner's kaddish, the prayer we say at a funeral. I just felt as if I somehow needed to acknowledge the death of this sea turtle, and mourn the loss.
Of course, I came inside and did a little online research. Turns out that sea turtles grow new scutes under the old ones, which they then shed. So this could very easily have been a scute that was just shed by a turtle busily growing a larger shell, and living to a ripe old age!
Totally made me feel better!!!
Today we drove up to the town of Poum, or Pum, which is where the national highway ends. More like fades out into sandy roads. It was pretty, but no beach, just a rocky shore. The town of Poum has an elementary school, a police station, a post office, and one store. Which closed at noon. A boat dock. That was it. We saw two cars go by, one being chased by a dog. We saw a few people at the store.
And that was Poum. (No photos here of Poum - haven't downloaded them yet.)
Tomorrow we'll traverse the island and head south on the eastern coast, stopping along the way. We also want to get to the Blue River National Park which is south of Noumea, in what is called The Deep South.
So we still have more exploring ahead of us!