“We were stuck for two weeks in New Caledonia”: a couple from Montpellier testify

“We were stuck for two weeks in New Caledonia”: a couple from Montpellier testify

Stéphane et son épouse juste avant leur rapatriement avec Air Calédonie. DR – DR

Un couple de Saint-Gély-du-Fesc faisait partie des nombreux touristes qui ont été bloqués sur l’île après les émeutes survenues le 14 mai. Rentrés le 1er juin, ils témoignent.

Stéphane and his wife, who live in Saint-Gély-du-Fesc, had a contrasting first trip to New Caledonia. While they were due to return on May 16, it was not until June 1 that they were finally able to reach the metropolis. They tell.

How was your trip??

Very good at first. But while we left on April 26 and were due to return on May 16, the riots and blockades began on the 14th. We were on the Isle of Pines, where our security was assured . We were confined for ten days in a magnificent hotel, but with significant costs. On May 24, we were able to reach Nouméa by boat with the hope of taking the first plane the next day, but that was not the case. The airport remained closed.

What was the atmosphere there??

The climate was more tense there and we had to finance our accommodation. For nine days, we checked emails every ten minutes in case there was room for us on a repatriation flight. Our suitcases were always ready, but our departure was constantly postponed. Daily life in Nouméa also meant finding something to eat before 6 p.m., curfew time. What was stressful was also the expenses that were piling up, several thousand euros more than we had planned.

When were you able to leave?

We were able to have a plane on Saturday June 1st. It was one of the first repatriation flights. But contrary to what the organizers had told us, we were not able to keep our two bags in the hold at Singapore customs. All passengers had to leave items behind in the airport. We threw away the eight jars of jam that we brought back as gifts. It was symbolic, but it added to a lot of inconvenience.

“The authorities were overwhelmed”

"What is the state doing ?" According to St& Eacute;phane, this was the recurring question in New Caledonia, from May 14. "The Australians wereé repatriated very quickly, as well as other nationalities, he testifies. But the French, who were nevertheless on French territory, were blocked. The repatriations were both very slow and very poorly managed. We had no information from the authorities, who were overwhelmed. We had nevertheless taken the necessary assurances".

"It is thanks to the Facebook group "Tourists stranded in NC" that we were able to find solidarity and make ourselves heard by the High Commission of New Caledonia. We have planned to take stock with all the people who have been lésées in order to initiate joint action."

Have you met people who were in the same situation as you ?

All scenarios were represented. With us on the plane, there were two Montpellier residents who had gone to New Caledonia to work until August. They returned because there was no more work there. Many sectors will be at a standstill for a long time. Many Caledonians are also trying to leave the island, because they fear for their safety.

And once we get to Paris ?

We had to finance our own flight to Montpellier on Sunday evening to return to work on Monday morning. I work in a large company and my wife in a community. It was really tense, but we had the chance to find our families and our living environment. While many people are still stuck in New Caledonia, sometimes far from Nouméa, with security or financial problems much greater than ours.

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