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.