Thursday, December 8, 2011

Marakei ... the people

The following are randomly (more or less) placed photos of some of the beautiful people of the atoll of Marakei. It takes far too long to try to move them around on this blog ...
not the friendliest thing to work with!

The Mayor ... and chief tour guide!
They look after you very well on Marakei ...
and they adorn you with handmade head-dresses.
Singing and dancing are a specialty of the
I-Kiribati ... and they often want you to join in!
It's rude to decline!
You won't go hungry, either!
Waro are especially tasty ... as was the lobster, chicken, pork,
and of course, the fish!
Put a couple of those on the barbie!
Gracious (and happy!) hosts ...
Quench your thirst with a little of the liquid from the coconut ...
so pure it was injected intravenously during
the last cholera epidemic!
A few of the locals we met ...
Her husband is a seaman who trained at the centre
where I work ... after 18 months of training, he gets to spend
another 11 months at sea! I asked her where he was, "At sea."
She had no idea where ... Marakei only got mobile phone
service the weekend we arrived!
She also has a 3-4 year old child who has probably
barely (if at all) seen his father.
Sending money home from overseas employment
is a major source of revenue for the country.

This gentleman liked my sunglasses!
And he looks almost as good in them as me! ;-)
Motorised transportation is as economical as it gets ...
No space is spared ...
Three is not uncommon ... the kids must
have terrific balance!
Did you ever have trouble getting your kids to make their bed?
Here it has a whole different meaning!
Just like the rest of the world ...
it's the youth of Kiribati that are it's future.
They are happy and love to have their pictures taken.
They are cheeky, too!
They don't make big demands ...
this girl played with the day's catch for a very long time!
Digging for sand crabs ... much more exciting
than any video game ... and useful!
And the older kids take care of their younger siblings ...
More smiling faces ... these kids tried to teach me
some Kiribati ... most speak a little English.
I don't think "dangerous" is a word in Kiribati!
So, can you help save my country from perishing due to climate change?
Can you reduce your carbon footprint just a little?
Really? You can't do with a little less,
so that we can just have a home?
Will my country even exist by the time I'm old enough to have my own family?
Don't you think I'm worth it?
Don't you think we deserve a little of the planet, too?
50% of the population of Kiribati is under 15 years of age!
That's about 50,000 kids who will have families in the next
15 years ... they start young here ... life expectancy isn't that good.
What does the future hold for them?
Some things are just too valuable to be about profit.
It's more in your hands ... than theirs.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Marakei Scenery

Marakei ... a small atoll a few degrees north of the equator ...
about a 15-20 minute flight from Tarawa.
Air Kiribati can get you there for less than $40 one way ... well worth it!
Upon arrival (and after we organised our accommodation) we were given the obligatory anti-clockwise trip around the atoll ... to meet the goddesses of the atoll.
Luckily we were able to use motorbikes for the journey ...
much more comfortable (and fun!) than the back of a truck!
And who else to take us on the tour ... the Mayor, of course!
The Mayor told us the stories behind each person
and we left a gift to ensure our stay on the atoll was blessed.
We left a little tobacco in the shells that graced each shrine.
Once you have completed the anti-clockwise trip, you are part of the family and are able to travel at will. The reason behind the direction of travel is ... well, I can't tell you that, can I?
That would be divulging family secrets! You'll have to become family first!
Marakei has some lovely scenery, and I thought I'd show you a little on this posting. Much of what we've seen so far has consisted of coral shorelines ... it was nice to find some sandy beaches!
The coconut palms are the main source of raw materials and food in Kiribati.
They also grace some lovely views.
As an atoll, Marakei is one who's lagoon is nearly encased by coral land.
Here the land is encroaching into the lagoon.
What coconuts don't supply in the way of food, is made up for mainly by fish. If you don't want to spend all day, everyday, fishing (sounds horrible, doesn't it!), then you build a fish trap.
There were a few pretty good sized fish caught in this one.
Maybe you would rather snorkel for your dinner? That can be arranged as well.
Nice coral reefs with lots of life here. Of course the kids love to help you out as well.
Imagine leaving your young kids to play all day in the ocean ...
without worrying about them!
Not much surf while we were there ... but really ...
could anyone surf on an old piece of styrofoam packing?
Why yes they can! And quite well, I might add!
But this is what I love about this place ... the serenity!
Think I could see myself lying in a hammock outside my hut here
... sipping on a coconut or two!

Next post I'll show you a little of our accommodation and food ... make sure you aren't hungry when you look! Wouldn't want you drooling all over your keyboard! ;-)
(Disclaimer: Haven't proofread this post ... time to go ...)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Off to Marakei

Heading off to Marakei for the weekend.
It's an atoll about a 15-20 minute flight north of Tarawa.
Apparently there are some very interesting traditions
practiced there ... such as all visitors must take a
counter-clockwise tour of the island the first day they visit!
Around the atoll there are 4 shrines at which you are also
expected to leave gifts (such as tobacco).
View from the Space Station
Accommodation and facilities are very traditional.
We will be sleeping in a kia kia and it is advised you
take some of your own water. Food will be whatever
is available ... looking forward to the adventure!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fishing Derby

On Tarawa, there is a fishing derby held on a Saturday each month.
Boats and fishermen register, go fishing for the day, and have to be
back at Captain's Bar by 5 pm to weigh their catch.

Captains is a pleasant little watering hole about 5 minutes
from where I work ... I finish work a 4:00 pm and have been
known to be working on a cold beer (XXXX from Quensland)
by 4:07 ... and that included the staff bus ride from school!

Seating next to the water ... always a cool breeze!

Ross (a former volunteer) with a nice yellowfin tuna.

Karotu with a lovely wahoo.
And Ross again with his prize winning sailfish ...
That was just some of the catch ... a good time was had by all
... except for maybe the German volunteer who was
sick and threw up on a dolphin!
Didn't think chumming was allowed!

I am hoping to land a spot on a boat next month ...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

"Prevention is better than cure"

There's been an outbreak of dengue fever to the north of us,
and rubella to the south ...
combating mosquitoes is the key.
Set up my bed properly today ...
whatever mossie gets through the insecticide
impregnated net deserves a feed!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Marine Training Centre, Tarawa

The MTC in Batio (pronounced Base-O)
gives I-Kiribati (pronounced E-Kee ree bus) young men training
which enables them to gain employment
in various capacities as ship's crew members.
Training is for 18 months, and the cadets, ranging in age
from about 18 to 28, come from all the islands of Kiribati.

I know the next time I see crew on a ship,
I will certainly look at them differently.

Here you see some cadets training on the Bridge Simulator.
And the navigation simulator ...
Yes, all cadets are known by a number ...
and they dress appropriately for the climate and job.
The centre is run like a ship, with two parades a day.
The cadets live on campus and get shore leave on weekends ...
if they earn it!
Cadets returning from a day of sea rescue training ...
The centre has a comprehensive range of safety vessels...
Staff say if there is a tsunami, head for the capsule that's
perched high on it's launching mechanism ...
only takes a second to launch!
Where I sit for lunch!
Usually a nice breeze blowing ...
won't get any complaints from me!