Exactly one month ago, packed to the hilt in our rental car, we pulled into the driveway of our new home just outside Pouembout, New Caledonia.
I had spent the drive telling myself that this was the beginning of a fabulous new chapter in our lives.
"We have to be positive everyday," I told my husband in the car. "Nobody is making us do this: it's our choice. It's up to us to make it great."
|Jack was desperate to go to the beach in our first few days.|
Somehow, it's partly the fact that it's NOT too easy that makes it good. Having to think differently about how I shop, how I cook. We eat white tuna fillets for dinner now. Wouldn't be doing that back home.
When we arrived, I rejoiced that our house was small. Just right, actually. A little tight in some places, but really all we need. Cleaning is a lot quicker, especially not having carpet. And mopping is good too - the floor dries quickly in the warm weather. Winning!
|Day 4: Turning 4!|
It did take us a couple of weeks to get all the furniture we need, and there's still some things like a drier (I'd love to live without it, but I'm a realist) and some floor rugs (a small concession to carpet...). And toys. Nellie is so full of energy, it's hard to find enough activities to keep her busy. I've begun to trawl local shops for cheap necessities such as toy brooms and easels. Thankfully I packed the teaset and pencils - these buy me some peace!
|Nellie exudes confidence in Noumea on our first weekend in NC.|
For a couple of weeks, Jack kept talking about needing to go home. Going to kinder. Seeing family. Those first few weeks were also difficult because we had hardly any equipment for him. He had no walker or ladder, no specialised stool or standing frame. He could only sit at his table or on the floor. But lately, since his equipment has arrived, he has become more interested in where we are living. He asks for translations of words into French. He knows the words for car, truck, road, thankyou, hello, goodnight, please and others. He also knows a few phrases. If we can keep on track with his physical side, hopefully nurturing the mind will be easier.
|The aquarium in Noumea|
It was important to me that we get out, especially on weekends. Our first weekend was Noumea, which was mostly about furniture shopping but we made some time for the beach and the aquarium. We've been an hour and a half up north to Koumac a couple of times, to the beach and also found some great spots for casual lunches. We've begun to plan our weekends in terms of places we want to go. Until a month ago, it used to be planning tasks that need to be done around the house.
One of the first things that hit me when we arrived at our new house was the garden. Or no garden. Or fences to contain Nellie. I have to say I did despair a little - particularly as it had rained before we arrived and the ground, devoid of grass, was persistent, intrusive, sticky mud. Rainy episodes since then have confirmed the challenge that people have here to garden and make outdoor spaces useful and not painful to use.
|After the rain...|
Nellie has also confirmed that she needs space to run free, as this modest little house has no hope of containing her energy and curiousity. Happily, it appears that some grass and fencing is soon to arrive - and I can't wait. I so want to make our garden a great extension of our house. Outdoor areas which are useful and fun and comfortable to be in. But patience, patience!
|At the harbour near Koumac.|
The best part of our first month, though, is far and away the people we have met. Locals and fellow expats alike, everybody we've met have been generous, welcoming and super supportive. We went to the birthday of a colleague of Rob's last weekend and felt very much part of the group. Which is exactly what feeling at home is all about.
Happy 'One Month' to us!