Saturday, September 20, 2014

Friday in Noumea: Cultural Centre and Opening Ceremonies

After breakfast in my room I headed out to the Tjibaou Cultural Centre, named after a Kanak leader. It's a beautiful set of buildings set on a peninsula, and is quite beautiful. There were some exhibits about Tjibaou and the struggles of the Kanaks, as well as sections displaying a variety of traditional and modern art. It didn't take long to go through it, but it was nice, and the setting was very peaceful. I walked up to a panoramic view by a statue of Tjibaou, and then returned to the centre for lunch.

View of the Tjibaou Cultural Center,
with its 10 hut-like structures rising from among the surrounding trees.

Statue of Tjibaou

I drove over to the Magenta climbing wall, site of the competition, and after a while figured out where to park where security didn't have a problem with me. I showed up to help with registration, but they already had more people than they needed, and there was little for me to do other than politely greet the Russian team in Russian. I walked over to the volunteer headquarters, got a new badge that will admit me to that area each day of the comp, got a second volunteer T shirt, and checked in with my team in the shipping container that serves as the office for the Communication team. They have a laptop there for me to use to help with the translation (French to English) of articles to be posted on the web site, in case I need it, but I'm hoping to be able to do all that work on my laptop, and rely on email to send stuff back and forth. I also got the passwords for a few of the wifi networks set up for the competition, but it's not clear how well they are going to work.

I hung around and chatted with coaches and parents from a few of the other teams (other Canadians, Americans, South Africans), while awaiting the start of the open ceremonies. That started at 6pm, and apart from the athletes walking in behind each of their flags (26 countries are represented here), the ceremonies were pretty long and boring. There were a bunch of speeches from politicians and important climbing officials, all of which were full of platitudes that didn't really add anything to the event (in both French and English). At the end was a choreography performance featuring a dozen or so acrobatic young men, with a little traditional Kanak music in the back ground. Some of what they were doing was impressive, but it went on for quite a while, and overall was not very interesting.

Back to the hotel, somehow finding my way back in the dark with the tiny map on my phone helping out, and got to bed around 10pm.

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