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Round the World 2007
Blog covers Italy, England and New Caledonia.
Italia - Last days of June, 2007
Here I am again...
Here I am again, ready to start. Another Round the World Trip, to dream again bigger dreams and more magnificent fish.
This time not in so a totally free way, but making a treasure of past experiences, past places, men and women already known, by now friends.
And in a somewhat shorter way, only two months, with time counted in a perhaps horrible but oh-so-common way.
And, above all, no longer alone, (if not underwater...) My partner, Federica, a great traveler, accompanied me on this RTW, enduring noisy geckos with dubious hygienic habits and solitude imposed by my sometimes long freediving "adventures". Federica who would become my wife two years later!
First stop, New Caledonia, Ouvéa again, hoping to find some interesting tuna perhaps. And perhaps some fewer sharks compared to the last time I was there. Not really believing that one, really.
And, at the very end of the trip, the last days, in New Zealand, in full wintertime, perhaps, perhaps, a huge folly...
London - June 30, 2007
After a VERY early wake up (three in the morning!) this trip started with a few bad words addressed to Lufthansa:
L. "You have to pay something more for that sport equipment."
Me. "No, look, it's not a SPORT equipment, it's a PROFESSIONAL equipment. Let me show you..."
L. (very fast) "It does not matter. You have to pay anyway!"
Destination London for a more-than-24 hours stop following the complicated rules for the RTW ticket.
The arrival is greeted with the news of the Glasgow terror airport attack.
Frantic titles at the TV. "Security at every airport has been raised to maximum level." Please read it as paranoid.
Really good news for next day in Heathrow!
Where to sleep was offered by a Federica's friend, in a soggy London borough, near Greenwich. Rain all the day and the night long, the summer forgotten, growing doubts about going to the Tropics, but in wintertime.
Really MASSIVE the security at the airport but, slowly (and surely, of course), we all crawl to the gate for the direct flight London - Auckland.
More than 24 hours of being captured inside a rumbling aluminium tube...
New Caledonia - July 4, 2007- Nouméa
A LONG trip, London to Los Angeles, stop for a refueling (and a change of traveling companions) - and of course some few other security controls by USA. Then LA to Auckland (NZ), longer than the flight before.
In Auckland we've 10 hours of Jet Lag, and more than 24 hrs of flight time, not counting Venice - London in the confuse past.
A couple of hours strolling in the airport, another security control, and then the flight to New Caledonia, Nouméa, 9.40 am
Fantastic view of Baie de l'Orhpelinat from Eric's new home.
Eric is an old friend, I've been at his home even the Trip before.
He has new pictures and videos to show, and stories to tell. Above all about that one of the couple of White Sharks he filmed in the water without cage because he needed to take biopsy samples for genetic analysis.
Nouméa is as always a bit of France Riviera dumped in the Pacific.
Relaxing, even if somewhat strange. And expensive, of course.
New Caledonia - July 5, 2007- Nouméa
The flight has been in the funniest plane I've ever seen. Perhaps in the picture you can't appreciate it but it's intricately covered nose-to-end with cartoons characters.
Oh Saint-Exupéry's lost heroics night flights over Sahara endless dunes...
New Caledonia - The biggest lagoon in the world.
New Caledonia - July 6-8, 2007 - Ouvéa
The nights are COLD here, just after the sun comes down temperature drops, new Caledonians suit up in mountains outfits, long sleeves and heavy caps.
Nights are best spent under double comforters on the beds. Well, “BED” is a big word. Better mats on the concrete floor on (sometimes) beautiful coloured straw rugs.
No spearfishing at least for a week. Pierre, my landlord also in the 2005 trip, is away on affairs in Nouméa. He's sorry to miss me, he told me, but he HAS to go.
In the meantime weather is slowly changing. Dark clouds and a change of wind are dimming the horizon.
A sadly too-often-seen spectacle in the previous Trip.
In Ouvéa, finally at rest after a week of hurtling around the World. Time for sleeping, for synchronizing with the timeless, careless time of the Islands.
Long strolls at dawn on the almost infinite, incredible Ouvéa lagoon beach.
The cold light of dawn on the endless beach of Ouvéa.
New Caledonia - July 9, 2007 - Ouvéa
The weather has take a tourn toward the worst. It's RAINING! Hard, all the night long, all the day long too. Palm trees tossed by the wind, hibiscus flowers drenched, ocean gray all over against a gray horizon.
New Caledonia - July 10-12, 2007 - Ouvéa
The wind is still here. The sun luckily too.
No spearfishing till now. Pierre is busy with the organization of a big event here in Ouvéa, "La fête du Lagon" (Lagoon day).
However he promised me going out Friday, Saturday AND Sunday. We’ll see. I do not think we’ll be able to go as usual to the Pléiades, the small islets ring south and north of Ouvéa, the ocean surface is way too rough.
Perhaps we can go around the island and spearfishing on the East side, usually off limits and rarely dived because of the prevailing winds. Pierre told me he has a spot where can be found Sailfish, Yellowfin Tunas and even Swordfish.
Again, we’ll see.
In the meantime, lazily bike wanders around this wonderful island. Landscapes to fill of wonders every winter for many years in the future.
New Caledonia - July 13, 2007 - Ouvéa
Pierre is always busy. Weather is now perfect. Balm winds, sun all the day long. Still no dive.
New Caledonia - July 14, 2007 - Ouvéa
Finally! We went fishing! It was a perfect day, almost no wind to speak about, flat seas and sun with no clouds.
Pléiads du sud, near the fabulous Pass de Anemata. In the water with the Old Faithful Tuna Gun. Luckily, even if the nights are COLD (the breath shows evidently, thank you) the Ocean’s temperature is perfect with my new wetsuit.
Gray sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) everywhere as usual in Nouvelle Calédonie. The usual five or six lazily swimming around, slowly ascending to give a closer look at what the commotion is.
A nice dogtooth tuna (Gymnosarda unicolor) shows himself on the bottom. Slowly approaches. I dive, evidently disinterested. The shot is a good one but it’s not a stoning one. In a blink of the eye the tuna is hurling everywhere, rubbing himself on the corals, tangling the steel cable on every rock he can find. Sharks from any corner of the ocean, suddenly fifteen and more of them, in HOT pursuit. Fast grey bullets on the tail of the tuna. Myself in the fray pulling like a madman on the cable and pedalling at full steam toward the surface. Breathing is a good thing!
From there I can pull more efficiently and in good time the tuna is in my hands, intact. Not a big one but a good 10-15 kilos. Pierre will be happy.
One hour after. A big gray shark swims toward me, diving deep and slowly falling toward the bottom. Three meters behind him and five meter deeper a good dogtooth tuna. I slowly angle my fins, drop in his general direction, at five meter I aim at the head. I pull the trigger. The spear suddenly disappears from the gun and appears in the fish. Stoned! Slowly the tuna start rotating, belly up. The sharks around all have a collective hiccup but that’s all. No chasing around, no biting the wounded fish, nothing.
The fish is, will tell me later Pierre, is a good thirty kilos sturdy, heavy dogtooth tuna.
New Caledonia - July 15, 2007 - Ouvéa
Second day. Pléiades du nord. Day, if possible, even more perfect than the day before. Ocean surface perfectly flat, no wind, no waves. Destination the “cailloux dolmen”, a single coral head reaching down deep under the surface.
From the boat we can see the first shark for the day ascending, almost touching the hull, then slowly sliding down again.
Dive after dive, no tunas today. But a big, wary, shape materializes slowly. A big green jobfish (Aprion virescens), aggressive teeth and big scales. Massive fish for his species.
I dive, he swims away. I dive again and again he glides away. Third dive, the last one, I know, with any possibility to catch this fish. He arrives, showing big teeth in a superior smile, six-seven meters from me. I slowly extend the Tuna Gun. He swims away, already one meter farther than before. I aim fifty centimetres before his nose, the distance is now a good seven plus meters, and pull the trigger.
Sharks accelerating all around, the jobfish pulling mighty on the rope, I really caught him! In an instant he’s tangling himself around a coral outcrop, two sharks closing dangerously near. With the last oxygen molecules I manage to jerk him free. No more pulling, I’ve to breathe.
From the surface I look down. A faster shark is already almost nibbling his tail but now I can pull well and I manage to tug him out of his jaws. Soon I’ve the fish in my hands.
The scale, back at Pierre’s place, will denounce almost eleven kg, not SO far from the world record.
Not so far from the world record...
New Caledonia - July 16 - 19, 2007- Lifou
Three lazy days waiting for the next Country, Vanuatu. Lifou is perhaps a shade less "pacific" than Ouvéa but has dreamy beaches, sometimes hidden away from the main roads, like Peng Beach in the Santal Bay.
Not a single person in view, literally. Green coconuts trees, sand slowly turning from crystal white to emerald entering the still water. A sensation of being totally alone in the middle of the Pacific. Federica is truly fascinated.
Tons of pictures, colours enough for long future European winters...
See you in Vanuatu!