It is now Sunday, november 26th, our last evening in Noumea and we are staying in “hotel du Centre” with good internet so it is time to finish my update of New Caledonia.
When Hannah and Wence left us in Lifou, on October 26th, we continued sailing to Ouvéa another island of the Loyalties group. Ouvéa was enlisted as a Unesco World Heritage site in july 2008.
New Caledonia was annexed to France in 1853. France was looking for a strategic military location and a penal settlement. The first convicts arrived in Noumea in 1864 after a 6 month journey from France. Till 1897 about 25000 convicts were sent to New Caledonia. NC status was changed after WWII from colony to a French overseas territory. In the late 70’s the independence movement became more popular and France agreed to talks with the pro-independence leaders. After a series of tumultuous events the UN General assembly voted in 1986 in favour of NC reinscription on the UN’s decolonisation list. In april 1988 the Ouvéa crisis erupted where a separist group took 27 people hostage and demanded instant independence. 19 hostage-takers were killed (Ouvéa memorial) and 2 military people died. In 1998 the Noumea Accord was signed between the French government and the independence parties. This Accord stipulated a 15-20 year period of growth and development ending with a referendum for independence. This referendum will be held in 2018. If the independence vote fails the Accord provides that 2 more referendums will be held in the following years. We are curious to see what will happen but many doubt the pro-independence vote will win. To be continued.
We have sailed around for about 1,5months in NC and there is still so much more to be discovered. Hopefully the weathergods are with us in April of next year and we can sail along the East Coast of Grande Terre up to the north with maybe some diving along the way. But now we are looking forward to be “landlubbers” for 4 months while we travel Australia and Vietnam.