Last time I posted was about a month ago, and then it was only a link to Nath’s post of the cyclone that ended up passing us by a few hundred kilometers. Yup, I am doing exactly what people told me would happen: the frequency of posts reduces as you become integrated into the local lifestyle. In fact, we have gone through the cycle as we were told we would: the first month or two were full of new discoveries (the so-called honeymoon phase), then we got this sense that the vacation was over and it was time to go home, shortly followed by the realization that we were not going anywhere. This hit us just before Christmas, but as we went through Christmas and New Year’s we became adjusted and now we have all found our routines and know now that this is where we live for the next few years.
Having said that, we are changing houses in a few days. Behind our existing house they have opened up a construction site where a new subdivision is going to be build. Right now they are still in the middle for earthworks and they will be for a while still (we are actually used to this island-pace by now). This means trucks and shovels literally in our backyard. So on Thursday we are being moved to another house that has become available. We are actually very lucky, because the house is in a quiet corner at the end of a dead-end road. As we speak, we are packing everything up and once again we are surrounded by boxes. Fortunately the kids are very excited about the prospect of the new house.
So as our life here is becoming ‘normal’ it becomes a bit harder to find a decent subject to post about. And as long as I can I will not post about my job. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job here!
I believe the local fauna is worthwhile mentioning. Not because there are many exotic animals here, but actually rather the lack thereof and the few ones that are. When we started looking into living in New Caledonia, we found out very early there is little to no threat from animals. The biggest predator is a medium-size bat (the Rousette, which apparently tastes really good…) and there is only one poisonous snake, that you may find on the coast. The snake bite is venomous and dangerous, but so rare to occur that the anti-venom needs to be flown in from Australia if ever it is required. This is because it expires after 10 days. I have been told that it has been 16 years since they last needed the anti-venom. Needless to say that the snake is not aggressive and it will slither off before you can even get too close.
I have written before that here are lots of wild horses, deer and swines on the island, even though we haven’t seen too many of those yet. Also very prominent are several (semi-)flying insects. Don’t try to stay outside right after sunset, because the mosquitoes will eat you alive. And if you leave the light on outside, you will end up with a circus of bugs in no time, with the praying mantis as the main act.
So not much to worry about. Except for one! There is one insect present that can cause you a real problem. It is a centipede that goes by the name of Scolopendre. It can grow pretty big and it hides out in the grass of our lawn. At night, they will actually try to get into your house, so most people have a potent insecticide applied around the perimeter of the house. If you get too close, you will get bitten and it’s bite is fierce and leaves a very painful mark that can actually make you sick.
I have had my first encounter with one a few months back. I was actually sitting on the couch at night when I felt something tickle on my leg, in my pants. Before I knew it it bit me and when I jumped up it fell out of my pants. It was a relatively small one (2 cms long) and the bit left a mark but no pain. Since that evening, we have found at least four more around the house. Most of them were dead or dying (we also had the perimeter treated), but also much bigger than the first one (6-7 cms). Nath found one on the patio this week, just before Éloïse wanted to pick it up. Using a small garden tool she cut it in 4 pieces and kept them to show me how big it was. When I saw it (several hours later) the pieces were still moving…. We now carefully check our shoes before we put them on, because that it where they like to hide when it rains.
Great, it just started to rain outside. And my shoes are out there…