Roaches, roaches everywhere, and not a drop to drink

Photo JH

Photo JH

I have a confession to make. One of my most absolute favourite things in life is coffee. Peet’s coffee.

I love it so much that I pay a fortune no matter where I am in the world to receive it. I did so years ago in New Caledonia, I did it in Paris, and now I am doing it again. I pay far more than I should in shipping ($40 for 2 pounds of coffee, which at the discounted price is only $10), and  importation taxes (approximately 30% of the total order, including shipping, so another $15). Which basically works out to $65 for 2 pounds of coffee that last me 5-6 weeks. Not that you’re interested, but each cup of Peet’s coffee, when brewed at home here in New Caledonia costs me about US$1.94 (CFP 179 or €1.50). Not too bad, really, when you do the math.

Don’t get me wrong. New Caledonia has coffee. They grow and produce coffee here, no problem. And they even fly some in from France and other places. So when my order occasionally runs out ahead of time (or an order gets stuck at the post office, as is currently the case), I can get coffee. I can. I pay about $10.82 (CFP 1,000 or €8.38) for about half a pound of coffee, and it’s done.

But I love really good coffee. I love Peet’s best of all.

It doesn’t stop there. When I have really good coffee, I can’t just drink it out of any old machine.  Before we came to New Caledonia, we purchased a new Krups espresso/drip machine. And brought all the filters and the decalcification powder with us. We might not have packed enough cleaning products, but I had our filters! Thus, a brief peek into one of my little passions, er obsessions.

Now imagine my joy, my thrill, my absolute rapture one morning last week. I brewed a fresh pot of coffee, and pouring the coffee into a clean cup, noticed, upon pouring in a little milk that, horror of horrors, 2 little – and 1 bigger – brown things were floating to the top. You’ve seen the picture. The one at the top of this post. Yes, that one.


Three of them. In my coffee, my Peet’s coffee, my perfectly brewed coffee, my $1.94 cup of home-brewed coffee. Yes, that coffee.

I promptly poured the coffee down the drain and went off coffee for a day. A day. This is a person who loves good coffee like others love good wine. You may not be traumatised by roaches in your coffee, but my shock, denial, anger, bargaining, sadness and acceptance of my lot over the next 24 hours told me something about my reaction to roaches in my beloved.

The next day, I cleaned the coffee machine out from top to bottom. I changed the filter and decalcified the machine. I ran loads and loads of clean, fresh water through it. I squashed every roach that emerged or scattered across the counter top. (I normally do not kill roaches – which might be my problem – but that day, I showed no mercy.)

We’d had the people come in a few months ago to spray the apartment for roaches and ants and all things creepy crawly. Some of you may recall that I was pretty upset about the situation early on. The landlord, happily, did something about it.

But then about a month ago, while turning down our sheets to ready for bed (and please let me reassure you, we live in a very clean, modern apartment), what do I find, but … another roach. Ah, life in New Caledonia.

But they’re small, you say. It’s hot there. Roaches are part of South Pacific living.

Yes, I say, they’re small. The big ones are down in the parking garage. But these are the little ones that you find in restaurants. These are the ones you can never get rid off. These are the ones that are everywhere.

Yes, I say, it’s hot here. So they’re out. And when it is cooler, I will still see them. I promise you, I will. August is our winter here – and that’s when I saw them first.

Are they part of South Pacific living? Perhaps. But I didn’t see nearly this many (and I certainly didn’t have them in my coffee) our last stay here. Will you see them in hotels? Probably not. I hope not. But you might. They’re in stores, in beauty salons, in schools. They’re little, and they’re fast. And they’re there – there!


11 thoughts on “Roaches, roaches everywhere, and not a drop to drink

  1. Thats pretty interesting and really creepy at the same time. So even with the exterminator visit you are still infested in some way? I live in a hi-rise apt here in DC and occasionally we have a roach problem. While I keep my apt spotless its usually because of folks leaving trash out in our trash room and the building not doing a better job of disinfecting the trash room.

    Most annoying thing is getting up in a middle of the night for a drink of water, turning on the light and SURPRISE that mad scurry conga line of running roaches. You just reminded me to schedule the exterminator.

    Do you do any of your own spraying? Because I would have cans of raid in every room.

    Love the coffee story and that you import it….which begs the question how long does it actually take to get to you? and I’m assuming based on location have had to curb most of your online is amazon not an option for you or netflix?

    • Thanks for reminding me to spray or put traps out, OneRollingStone. How did I forget that part? As to getting up in the night, that is out of the question. I’ve been traumatised by what happens when the roaches scatter one too many times (growing up in Florida). As to how long it takes for coffee to get here – a couple of weeks, but then it can get stuck in customs. My last order was placed 17 February. It arrived at the post office on 4 March. I am yet to receive a notice saying it is here (though according to the UPS site, it is). As for other online shopping, we use Amazon and Better World Books (free shipping anywhere in the world) quite a lot. It takes time for things to get here, but for us, it is the only real option.

  2. We definitely see the occasional roach at our place too but I think being on the 2nd floor might help a bit. The worst are the flying guys that come in and crawl around on the wall near the lamp when we’re reading or something with the window open and then fall on you! Ok, maybe the worst are actually the HUGE ones that have made it in once or twice… We like to think our gecko flatmates help control the population as they hunt in the night…

    • Ah, yes, the plethora of flying insects, and dengue-carrying mosquitoes to boot. Whatever you do, don’t kill the geckos. They’re our natural selection heroes and heroines!

    • Glad to hear you can still get your comforts. Your comment below regarding the flying roaches and mosquitoes and the dengue fever brings up a couple questions I have. Don’t know if you’ve covered this in a previous blog submissions but the recent outbreak of dengue fever, I was wondering how well the government and health care professional do to educate the community on prevention, symptoms and treatment.

      Also what is the state or offerings regarding health care there?

      • All very good questions, OneRollingStone, which I was planning to answer in today’s post. But I decided that we needed to talk about the coal plant today – and will turn to dengue later this week. Promise!

  3. Pingback: Exotic Housemates | Yanks in Noumea

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