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Airport Adventures: Noumea Airport

by a traveller

"I arrived late in the night around eleven, on a flight from Auckland, N.Z., the last flight of the night. There were many other budget travelers on the flight, and we all congregated outside the now closing doors after claiming our packs.

As the last of the airport staff left in there cars, the last bus to take us into Noumea (40 mi.) arrived, and as others climbed abord I could not justify paying around 30U.S. for a forty mile trip (on a budget you know). I was not alone, one girl a German also would not agree to the bus fare, and we stood together as the bus roared away.

After a brief introduction we decided we should look for a place to sleep in safety, but no structures were present, nothing like a suitable sleeping area was visible from the airport, only saturated grasslands and swamps. So we went out about 50 meters into the grass, where the lights of the airport were not so menacing, laid out our rain ponchos as ground cover and covered ourselves with my mosquito netting. We talked a bit and made a more formal introduction but were constantly fighting off the mosquitoes that carried the fever and had descended on the netting. This went on for hours until we decided it was not going to allow us any sleep, and after each of our long air flights we needed sleep.

Sleep depravation and being pissed off at the mosquitoes voracity in this "Tropical Paradise in the Pacific" had led me to desperation, and the only structure available (or visible) was the airport building. We soon found ourselves emersed in the light we had tried to hide from, a beacon to the night insects and the bats feeding upon them, the doors were locked tight. I saw a chance at a ventilator duct penetrating the thick concrete walls. It was loose and I was inside in minutes making my way down vent ducts until I found louver missing and actually got inside the tiny little airport building. I quickly got to the door and let her (I don't remember her name) inside, we looked for a place that would be less travelled when the airport opened, the most inoctuas spot available...the bottom of a dark stairwell that led to the control tower. We quickly undid our gear and with the aid of a little maglite, laid out our sleeping bags, laughed and hugged each other, then fell sound to sleep.

I was the first to awake at the sounds of the airport personnel coming in for work, feeling sour and sore I leaned up and could see my new surroundings, four concrete walls, concrete floor and ceiling. Looking down I saw centipedes crawling on my sleeping bag, talk about a bad way to wake up! I jumped up and noticed I was covered in what seemed like welts, and I had centipedes all over me...FUCK! I looked at her and where she was sleeping next to me, still asleep in her sleeping bag she was covered in them, her bag, her pack, the floor hundreds of centipedes everywhere! My movements awakened her and after a few seconds of rubbing her eyes she became aware of the situation we were in. She grabbed her pack and slammed all of her things into it, (I'd already done the same with my stuff, figuring the centipedes would die if stuffed hard enough into a backpack) and we quickly made our way up the stairwell. We arrived in time to catch the first morning buss to Noumea, amazingly it was only 10, we split up only to find each other in a youth hostel a few weeks later.

If "you" (The girl) happen to see this PLEASE WRITE!"

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