Our first glimpse of Kiribati
Tarawa, Kiribati. For many people a place theyâ€™ve never heard of, for us the fulfilment of a lifelong dream. On November 04, 2008 we boarded a plane in Nadi, Fiji to arrive on Tarawa atoll in the republic of Kiribati!
Difficult to describe why we wanted to go there. Itâ€™s a combination of pure curiosity with regards to life in a micro nation, combined with the urge to feel a little like an explorer by discovering faraway and unknown lands. We were not to be disappointedâ€¦
It already started upon arrival; Iâ€™ve seen several small airports (Greenland, Faroe Islands, Estonia just to name a few), but Tarawa was definitely different than those.
No gates, duty free shops or computer driven screens. We got a hangar with a hole in it (through which the luggage was thrown by an airport employee), a customs officer writing all the passengers names in a little book and signs handwritten with a magic marker. Bizarre beyond belief, the description doesnâ€™t do it justice!
Welcome to Kiribati!
The heat was another thing. We thought we had gotten used to the tropical temperatures in Fiji, but this was more extreme. Since Tarawa is so close to the equator, and shadow is just as strange here as snow, the two Europeans practically, i.e. usâ€¦;-), melted before even getting to the hotel.
We stayed at the Otintaai Hotel, which is government run. That suggests more than you get really, we didnâ€™t have running water half the time, the door couldnâ€™t be locked and the food was of dubious quality (an understatement, I had never seen brown fries for example). On the other hand, there was air conditioning, we had a spectacular view over the lagoon and we had a t.v., allowing us to witness historyâ€¦ We saw the USA elect Barack Obama as its president from Tarawa atoll in the republic of Kiribatiâ€¦ J
Naturally we wanted to explore the atoll, but the lack of tour guides (or even tourism at all), combined with the scorching heat made it impossible for us to do a lot ourselves.
We checked the hotel reception, and they found it very strange to hear that those two crazy Dutchmen wanted a tour of the atoll. We nevertheless managed to persuade one of the ladies there to guide us around the island the next day. We could hardly wait!
Another one of the atolls