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Diary (page 2)

I have still to add that my first impression on the country was not favorable; I expected softness of tropical landscapes and I was in front of countless mountains, without direction or uniform heights, covered with a long and yellowish herb. At the back of the harbor, some houses surrounded with gardens, it was Nouméa, the chef lieu… I used the rest of day on official visits; the governor warned me that I would receive without delay indications for my first investigation, and, indeed, on the next day I made my preparations for a visit to coal deposits which had been pointed out around Nouméa. One could move in a range of ten leagues around Nouméa with the most complete safety; this allowed me to walk by myself on foot on the banks of Dumbéa river where I had to examine the coal layers, which had been indicated in these parts.

I left at dawn, just provided with a hammer, a compass of geologist and a hunting gun. For the rest, I counted on the fate... " After six hours of walking in the sun, he finds shelter in one of two Mr. Joubert's domains, that of Koutio-kouéta. He arrives at Koé's station, second domain " only after having climbed and stepped down two very steep and high enough chains of mountains which the common road by-passes; in five hours of forced march, I had crossed only seven or eight kilometers at the most. The coal outcrops are not very far from the station, we saw the already done works of coal research and which had had no happy results; the runned zone did not appear to promise big chance of success "
It is necessary for us to drop the discovery of the huge pigeon notou or Carpophage Goliath, the description of the kanaks, their address to settle a camp of huts in 20 min,the cooking of birds on reddened pebbles, buried in a deep hole, their capacity to put out, as by game, the fire of undergrowth surrounding the group at a distance of 40m … All these scenes would make the happiness of a novelist but the witness of these adventures remains constantly credible: He photographs, draws and the style indicates above all a scientist who wants the precision of descriptions, who is stimulated by curiosity and pleasure of the discovery and the will to understand.

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