First Days on the Island
After 13 hours over water, we finally saw the islands of New Caledonia as we approached the airport. We spent the first few days getting our bearings, doing a little in-town botanizing and birding, sorting out a rental car issue (the four wheel drive SUV we got at the airport was the size of a large toaster and had less luggage space than my bicycle), meeting with our collaborator, Jérôme Munzinger, at Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), and planning the order in which we will visit our targeted sites in the south province.
Since we are all still waking up at 5:00, we had no problem getting to the daily market in time for the best selection of produce and fresh fish. As you can see from the picture, we were able to get a wide selection of locally grown tropical fruits. These fruits mostly originated in south Asia and the Pacific, with the exception of sweetsop, which originated in tropical America, most likely the Caribbean. Despite the fact that these fruits were locally grown, like everything else in New Caledonia, they were very expensive. Bananas are about $6 per kilogram, or about $2.70 per pound, and they are by far the cheapest fruit! A single papaya costs at least $10.