BANKING EXCURSION

A very humbling experience being here especially seeing what they do with such little. We have it all and we still aren’t satisfied. Certainly changing my perspective being here. So i went to the bank to pick up my bank card a few days ago and waited in line for about 20 minutes. Got to the counter and the lady said “oh u have to go see that lady over there”. So i stood in the ‘right’ line for about 40 mins and that lady after looking through 15 or so papers said “sorry your card was supposed to be here but card processing is delayed. Leave me your number and i will call when it is here”. Kind of disappointed, i walked back to the office and told my colleague who laughed out loud Lol. She would never call he said. That just doesn’t happen in kiribati. Lol. So i will repeated the process next day (one less line this time as i knew where to go. Ha ha ha). I could either get super annoyed at this or just have a laugh which is what i did. The one good thing is that there is no bribery. These hiccups are just a way of life and people simply wait. They don’t rip you off (nit that i’ve come to know). They are humble people. Happy people. That is something we could all learn from them.

P.s. I did get my card- infact, she called! This was a true surprise for everyone i had mentioned it to. So odd things do happen here 😀

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PAY DAY

Friday Every fortnight is payday on Kiribati! The place is buzzing. There are three local women enjoying beer at the the place I’m having lunch. They are looking energised and happy!! That money will be spent on food, groceries, household items and enjoyment today and from tomorrow, the anticipation for the next pay day will begin! The shops are playing loud music, there are bbqs in the local square, the markets are busy and there are many more people on the streets than usual. There’s a different vibe here on pay day! These people live in the moment…the road today is a little more ‘on the edge’ than usual. Ha ha ha

ONE DAY

I feel as though this post needs to be dedicated to my daily routine here in Kiribati. So I wake up around 6:15AM most days! Some of you will gasp at this I know haha. I often wake up quite sweaty from the heat of the sun shining through my window. Sleeping past about 7 is kind of hard. So my day begins…. A hot cup of tea to wake me up followed by filling up of drink bottles with cold water to take to work (usually 2 litres of water). This is followed by a quick cold shower with a citronella bodywash to keep the mossies away. This is followed by the slapping on of a little bit of sunscreen and then insect repellent. Once dressed, it’s then breakfast time… Wheatbix in home made yogurt/milk. Have to have a full tummy- people here don’t snack so the next time I’ll eat will be at lunch (probably good for my teeth to not snack :)). Then it’s time for vitamin supplements and roll-on deo and teeth cleaning! By this time, I’m running a tad late so I chuck on the same pair of jandals as every other day and walk to ‘the road’ to wait for my work bus which arrives depending on the condition of the road but gets there :D. Lunch is usually at 12.30 and I often have panfried fish and rice/chips… This place also serves the only cheese burgers on the island! Lucky I was never a fan but not having access to that food does make them smell appetizing!!

It’s home time just after 4:15PM which is about a half hour ride in the work bus with some interesting mix of music (mostly local but sometimes english and even Indian!!!!), a driver who has a very distinct laughter that every time he laughs, it brightens up my day no matter how hot and sweaty I’m feeling or how dusty my eyes are. This happens a lot… I’ll be walking down the street feeling all hot and unbearably sweaty and then i’ll see a kid smiling at me standing barefoot in the sun, playing with a toy made with a stick and a tyre and all that discomfort washes away.

WEEKEND IN OASIS

Last weekend, I was privileged to be taken to the northern Part of Tarawa. We went on a small boat and the journey took about 40 mins/an hour maybe. No one really keeps a track of time and neither do I anymore ha ha. But it felt like an hour more or less. The boat ride was mesmerising with the ever changing shades of blue. It was hard to tell where the sky started and the ocean ended. The clouds formed creatures of my imagination and then blended into what seemed like the edge of the world.

Approaching the island, the water became shallow and yet again changed colour. As the boat stopped, this young girl about 2 or 3 waved and screamed “me-me, daddy” who were our guides on the trip. Then she saw three ‘immitang’ (phase used for non-kiribati people) and suddenly her excitement dampened but that smile was priceless.

We were shown into our ‘kia-kia’, a hut like open structure with a mattress and mosquito net. This was our bedding for the three nights. I was very excited to sleep in the open under the stars surrounded by peace and quiet. It all just looked so tranquil. The kitchen and the hang-out area too were a similar structure. It was amazing to see how much could be done with so little! Mats weaved with leaves, string made of coconut husk, cooking on an open fire – all of which we were given a crash course in. I had to have my back ‘cracked’ by an accompanying volunteer just to keep going! It’s hard work I tell ya!!

The food we were served was just amazing!! The ingredients were few but what they managed to whip out was impressive! Waru, fish (open fire, boiled, fried), pumpkin (boiled, in coconut cream), breadfruit (chips, boiled, coconut-breadfruit soup), locally made sweet bread, pancakes (with fresh grated coconuts- mmmmm my favourite) and an endless supply of coconut water following by yummy coconut meat :). I was well fed!!

We usually ate while sitting on hand woven mats (changing positions a gazillian times lol) which was also the hang out area. The meal finished with a cup of tea with powdered milk and sugar. Hot tea seemed to have a cooling effect in the heat. Hot and humid it certainly was but felt much cooler than south Tarawa where I am and the lack of dust from the constant repairs of the road was not missed! Ha ha. Although- it was oddly nice to be back to the dusty road and the hustle bustle of the ‘city’. Yeah yeah- laugh all you like ;p

Often after a meal especially in the evening we would play a game of ‘sorry’ – a card game combined with board game which is rather fun. I must remember the rules!!!

On our return, we stopped off at a store to pick up some supplies and oh my god- there were oranges and apples!! Joy joy!!

I have found bananas too close to where I work. A woman sells them on the road size. Each banana is about the size of my finger in length and two in terms of width. Those who know me, know I have little hands and yes, those bananas are small but tangy and rather yummy 🙂

Oh oh oh, i forgot to mention the most interesting part about my trip! So on the first day, night fell and we hopped into our kia-kias under the mosquito net for a good night sleep. I could see the distant sky from one side and people gathering in the ‘mwaneaba’ (community structure) from the other. As my eyes started to shut and I was just about to doze off- my eyes burst open from a loud beat of music- local music but very loud. The song ended and I thought well, it’s rather early, surely they couldn’t go on for too long. I was wrong. Ha ha ha. The music continued…. Kiribati music, English music (party party party…), kareoke from the kava bar and that continued and continued and continued. My ear plugs did nothing!! It’s 5 am and the music is still going and then the roosters began their wake up call but that was muffled by the music. Ha ha ha. Every time a song would end, I would get optimistic that it would stop but it didn’t and then I decided it was time to get up. Few minutes after I got up- it stopped!!! I had lost my voice from the lack of sleep by then… After breakfast- I collapsed and had a long nap! Figured that’s what people must do. The next two days involved a lot of day napping and I did somewhat get used to the noise at night but boy oh boy! What an experience especially as it all looked so tranquil.

It was an amazing trip and an insight into the Kiribati culture… One I would certainly repeat. I’d just nap a lot during the day and maybe join the ‘party’ at night hahaha.

Over and out for now,
From the land of loud music and contagious smiles.