Julie and Maryanne started as work colleagues way back in the nineties. Back then, the computers had a big handle on the side that you had to pull when you wanted it to calculate. Since leaving that job, Malcolm and Julie have taken short-term jobs when they could to pay for extended travel in between. They are both avid scuba divers, Malcolm is a pretty serious mountaineer and Julie has become a highly-ranked paraglider. So far, they have been to more than twice as many countries than we have.
Noumea with old friends - Do you see the size of those SHRIMP!
We only had the one day together, so we all agreed to start with a walk to the nearby aquarium so they could see a bunch of underwater stuff in tanks instead of in the wild, like we’re all used to.
The aquarium was actually pretty good. The thing that stood out for us was the Mantis Shrimps. I had known they were the world’s loudest animals, with their supersonic claw snaps that they use to stun prey, but I had no idea how big and gruesome they are. I thought they were little multicolored things, but they are the size of lobsters and nowhere near as cute.
Following that, we all had a long walk along the waterfront punctuated by a long lunch. I often find myself getting impatient with waiters in Europeanized areas because it can take ages to get the check or even get anyone’s attention to get the check after the meal is done. We usually stop at restaurants for a meal, not to hang out all day. Sometimes, we like to linger afterwards, but already having the check means we can leave at our pleasure, not the waiter’s. This time, we stayed so long talking that our waitress asked us to pay the bill because her shift was ending soon.
We all walked the long way back. By the time we made it back to our dinghy, we were right in time to row into the sunset. They were going back to Australia to earn some money for their next trip, on which they hadn’t yet decided. We would be going back east again in the lagoon past where we had come from. From Begonia, we waved goodbye to them in the orang-ey light of dusk. They waved back and headed back to their hotel.