It’s quite difficult to explain what Kiribati is like so I wanted to give you some imagery to ponder upon (my grammar teacher would cringe at my long, comma filled paragraph :D)

Houses made of any material available (tarp, corrugated iron, iron bars/grill, wood, leaves, any kind of metal, car doors, plastic etc), taking shortcuts through stores because the alleys have water blocking the way, sleeping dogs, barking dogs, fighting dogs, hungry dogs, muddy puddles, cars parked (with sleeping driver) on the kerbside on a bend at an intersection, car parked on the footpath, food stalls made with a temporary tent like structure on the footpath,people gathered at Bairiki Square for a function/celebration or an educational campaign, empty concrete structures, the whoosh whoosh sounds of firm brooms used to clean the sandy ground, fish stalls giving out a smokey fume as I drive by in the super fast local bus, the occasional stall made of natural materials selling the only colourful produce I note along the street side (paw paws, cucumber, cooked fish and rice, breadfruit, some cherry tomatoes, green peppers and massive pumpkins which taste very different, coconut sap, local sting, coconut candy and sometimes bags made of two minute noodle wrappers), rusting wrecked cars missing most essential parts, a large rusting shipwreck, small fish vendors sitting with large cooler boxes and a weighing machine often showcasing a large fish on top, children (some in school uniforms, other half dressed and some butt naked), people disappearing into the low tide walking to find fish and setting traps, the sea wall populated by intoxicated men and giggling women as I walk past at night (i once nearly walked on top a guys laying on the road completely passed out), men up in coconut trees cutting todi or off loading coconuts often singing tunes, loud music playing in shops and in local buses passing by, people indulging in paint bucket showers with well water (the public-private boundary is astonishingly thin here), people tossing buckets of water on the road to keep the dust settled, the dust flying around as a car passes by, the fishing boats and commercial ships in the distance, the colours of the setting sun and silhouette of children playing on trees, the sounds of someone giggling or singing in the distance or a child crying, the ubiquitous holes in the road, the orange cones and washed aways bags from seawalls, rubbish washed back onto the shore revealing some interesting items (one wonders the harm all this plastic and non-biodegradable items must be having on the sea life around here), the strong smell of the landfill as you drive past, trucks piled with people on the back, the ubiquitous ‘mauri’ (hello) whenever you pass anyone walking on the street or a “where are you going” (my answer to which is usually – “that way” while pointing in the direction I’m walking- I realised they don’t really want to know where you’re going but it’s more like a figure of speech like ‘hey, how’s it goin’), the oddly matched clothing, bright- sometimes dull lava-lavas, the bare chested men walking around, bare feet walking on the road and on the coral, the signature black and black/red jandals that all i-Kiribati seem to wear, the occasional i-matang driving past or a honking local you acquaint with, the sometimes grey and stormy clouds in the sky, the bright white coral sand/rocks (bright enough that I struggle without sunglasses), the turquoise of the lagoon, the deep blue of the ocean and the white of the crashing weaves on the reef break, the dancing coconut leaves high up in the sky, the buzzing mosquitoes, painful red ants and the stubborn flies, the occasional frangipani tree and the ever smiling faces.

Words really don’t do justice but neither do pictures so try a little bit of imagination why don’t you 😉


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