I am going to skip right past the apologetic part (of not posting more sooner) and get right to the subject. After all, the end of the year is a mere 27 hours away.
Initially I wanted this posting to touch on just about everything we did or experienced in 2011, to make up for non-existing posts earlier in the year. And I was going to include links to I-don’t-know how many pictures, but let’s face it, no-one other than my own parents would go through all of that. And they are already the best informed.
But I have taken to writing a year-end letter rather than sending out Christmas cards, and by doing this electronically and distributing to subscribers, Facebook friends and email contacts it is even environmentally-friendly. This is actually the second time I am writing this, because even my first ‘short’ attempt was getting way too long. Must cut down!
So here we go:
This year we: experienced our first (and only) cyclone, celebrated that 6 other new friends had their birthdays very close to mine (one even the same day), moved away from the construction site,to a new house, had our first overseas visitors (my parents), discovered the semi-kid-friendly caves of Koumac, did our first ‘home-visit’ back to Timmins (and Toronto), saw Nathalie get addicted to running ‘raids’ (cross-country races through beautiful scenery in the North of New Caledonia), got a taste of the still-present traditional lifestyle in a ‘tribu’ (or tribe), saw Gertjan travel to Australia twice for work (which was a very different experience from the first time in 1996), closely followed the Rugby World Cup with a large group of friends (and felt really sorry for the French loss. NOT), explored the stunning southern region beyond Nouméa (the Goro mine-site not included under the ‘stunning’ label), got Gertjan more interested in mountain-biking after doing the 29-km distance during the Megarando (mega-cool, mega-exhausting and no picture, because who wants to see me in spandex), continued the Halloween party tradition in the neighborhood, got the family hooked on camping after buying our first 6-person tent, saw Gertjan spend more time traveling than visiting during a work-visit to a mine in Colombia (beautiful country, questionable safety situation) and ended the year with a wonderful local Christmas dinner hosted by new friends (seafood galore!) followed by an awesome camping trip at the east coast of New Caledonia.
When I look back at the year I can see that we went from newbies to integratees (I know, I know, but what other word can I use). Less and less things here shock or surprise us and we have a real routine. Matthé and Mireille are in school and now speak Canadian French (at home) and Caledonian French (at school). Nath runs the household like a tight ship and manages to find time to exercise and get ready for the 2012 Raid-season. And as for myself, I work. Long days and never done. Fortunately no need to continue working during the weekends, so we use those well to spend time as a family, and with our friends.
2012 already has a lot of exciting things ahead of us. It will be the year that we are officially starting up the nickel mining operation for which we came here. But we will also host our second overseas visitors in just over two weeks (Nath’s parents) and with them we will be traveling to and through Australia. We hope that this will be an early highlight of the year. We also hope to make our way back to the Netherlands at some point in time (but are still working on the logistics). And of course we will continue hauling our tent and family out to unexplored corners of the island, and some of the smaller islands around us.
So as we slowly close the books on 2011 and turn a new leaf for 2012, we want to wish all of you out there a joyful, healthful and prosperous New Year. We will do our best to keep you abreast of our urban-expat-adventures and we are always happy to hear about what is going on in your lives.
There, I kept it to under 700 words. Just.
Happy New Year – Gelukkig Nieuwjaar – Meilleurs Voeux