Our bucket list tour down under was coming to a close, but somehow fate saved one of our best stops for last. We docked early in the the New Caledonia capital city of Noumea. This was a French protectorate which was very clear when passing through the city by bus to get to our excursion ship out to Amadee Island. All of the signs on all of the shops were in french, which gave the island an exotic feel. Otherwise, I might have thought we were in the Caribbean.
On the bus to the ship we were warned about the indigenous population of the island, namely the venomous striped sea snakes. A picture was passed around and then our guide explained that the snakes were plentiful on the island but that you were very unlikely to get bitten by one. Their mouths are small and the venom is injected only if something like a finger is pushed way into the back of the mouth. If anyone was uncomfortable around one of the snakes, they were to call him and he would pick up the snake and move it to another part of the beach.
Well, that was all my wife Alice had to hear. She fears small animals, and particularly snakes. I could tell that this was going to be another exciting adventure.
The excursion was an all day trip and there were several activities planned by our guide. The first order of business was to find a spot on the beach to put our beach towels, snorkeling gear, bottles of water, etc. We met another couple on the trip over to Amadee Island so the four of us found a nice spot on the beach under one of the beautiful turquoise colored umbrellas. We had about forty minute until our next activity, a glass bottom boat ride to see some of the abundant underwater life, so I got out my camera and took a few pictures of the beach area and one looking back at Grand Terre Island where our cruise ship was docked. I posted five pictures on Facebook from the trip and you can access them by following this link: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010589645735 . While you are there, you might want to make a friend or follow request. I find it easier to post multiple pictures there rather than on my blog.
Our glass bottom boat tour was fairly typical of others we have taken. On this tour, however, we had a few remora fish attaching themselves to the glass bottom and taking a ride around the reef encircling the island. Now I have an idea how these fish attach themselves to sharks and other large fish. The suckers on the top of their heads are large and very effective.
When we got back to the dock, we stepped off of the small glass bottom boat and then immediately on to the large boat that brought us to the island. Now we were off on a trip around the island that is famous for its lighthouse as seen in the featured image for this blog. From there we went out even further to the barrier reef where I took the picture of the shark breaching the ocean’s surface. That was a lucky shot: right place, right time.
Then it was back to the island where our hosts had prepared a lavish barbecue lunch that included rum punch, and a bottle of french wine with the meal. This was followed by a dancing demonstration with a small band and two hula dancers. All of this was very entertaining on a warm and beautiful day in the South Pacific. But the real entertainment was to follow.
After lunch, we had about two hours to enjoy the beach and take a snorkel to see the reef, the turtles, the fish and the snakes. While I was out snorkeling, Alice and her friend that we met on the boat on the way over decided to set their chairs out in the water off of the beach with the waves just below the seats of their chairs. The two of them were having a pleasant conversation when the great snake attack occurred. One of the sea snakes surfaced near the two of them. Alice’s friend quickly got out of her chair, picked up the chair and ran back to the beach. Alice was not quite so brave. All she could think to do was raise her feet out of the water and start screaming for help. There was no way she was going to allow that snake to get near her legs and feet.
Well, someone near them in the water intervened and forced the snake on a path away from Alice. Then she had to decide whether or not she was going to put her feet back in the water to get back to the beach. After all, there might be another snake in the water that she just hadn’t seen.
Meanwhile, I cut my snorkeling trip short and came back to the beach to help her out of the water. What I told her when we got back was that I was just observing one of the snakes out by the reef as it moved slowly along the bottom looking for food. Well, that was the end of snorkeling for the day. I was not allowed back out, regardless of the fact that the snakes were perfectly harmless and regardless of the fact that I have been on several shark dives on previous trips.
This was just another great memory to tuck into the long list of great memories from our many adventures around the world. Every time I bring up the great snake adventure, I can get a smile from her. I keep telling her that she was the real entertainment on the trip.