Thank you for all your messages of concern. I am safe and well here in Kiribati. Pam came our way but veered off before too much damage was done. The road has more pot-holes than the stars in the night sky at the moment with traffic travelling at little more than 10-20Km/hr. The Journey to and from work has doubled in time and I tend to get to my destination with rattled up organs. Not far from my house makes for an interesting sight. Half the road has just fallen in. It looks like one of those 3D paintings that look good enough to fool you. The causeway from Betio to Bairiki has copped most of the damage and last I heard was down to one lane and a 2 Tonne maximum capacity. A dear friend lives in Betio which right now probably makes for a lonely place to be with the minimal transport options. The winds and the rain was impressive to say the least. I told you about the leakages in my last post. Did I mention the flooding in our driveway (I use the term loosely)? Well, the water has dried out and the sun has been shining these last few days but the clouds are still lurking around. Hoping there is no more of the crazy weather we saw last week and that the people of Vanuatu get through this safe and well. Heard on the news this morning that the death toll was upto 24. Living in a fragile ecosystem like Tarawa makes you realise how vulnerable life is in these parts of the world. We are expecting a high tide this Friday. The resilience of people here doesn’t seize to surprise me. Life really is lived on a day to day basis.
While things have been a little grim on the weather front, life has been fairly lively in the volunteer corner here. A number of gatherings, local boutaki (party) and lovely dinners have kept things interesting. There was an impressive local dance performance and nice Kiribati food at the boutaki I attended last night. The rest of us, honoured with garlands on our heads and being sprayed with perfume, boogied to a fast Kiribati song as the MC decided we needed to lighten up the mood before dinner. It is customary for the audience to come up to the dancers and spray them with perfume in appreciation. I’m sure my dance partner would have got into trouble when he gets home as he reeked of women’s perfume by the end of the dance. Giggles.
My Japanese flatmate, 2 Japanese neighbours and another Japanese friend have brought the Japanese influence back in my life. We drank Shochu and ate rotis the other day making for an interesting cultural experience enriched by a semi local friend (Kirbati ancestry, Solomon born and raised). Oh I should mention that one of my Japanese neighbours is trained in traditional Thai massage and my semi-local friend is a trained masseuse. How cool is that!! I was lucky enough to experience both their talents :D. I have also started taking local dancing lessons and by the end of my assinment, I should be able to move like Shakira ha ha ha.
On the weekend, my flatmate and I went shopping and found pears, apples, oranges, cucumber and onion. Jackpot!!! Life is good right now. I am still coughing away at night and early in the mornings and look like a bandit with my scarf covered face when I’m on the road but a bit of an apple/orange at the end of the day makes it all better. Comfort food has an altered meaning here in Kiribati. My chocolate supply is still intact but fruit before chocolate here it seems!
On the work front, things are on an upward motion. Yesterday, I photographed a staff member striking a 10 on the happiness-metre! Felt great :). Our whiteboard looks like a war plan and I guess it reflects us trying to declare war on the chaos around. Finding a black space on it nowadays is a tricky task and every time we talk, we seem to refer back to the board. Success! We are a functioning team now.