Local research duo Professor Jennifer Gidley and Earle de Blonville have just come back from the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, 2021-2030 conference in Nouméa, New Caledonia.
I can't work out if I'm angry, sad or blissful. It's a strange brew that's fermenting in me. And I don't mean the French wine I had last night with the fish and papaya. I'm referring to the combination of emotions that swirls in my guts. I'm not proud to be Australian.
The woman's face is animated as she talks about our connection to the earth and the sea. I sit, respectfully silent, concentrating hard because my listening skills in French are not great. I sip from a warmish Manta beer.
Slinking past the door where a sign reads 'Cannabis interdit' (Cannabis prohibited) and crouching under the windows so as not to be seen from inside, a bloke creeps to a table tucked away in a corner of the deck.