After four flights and 36 hours travelling, we finally landed in Fiji. I am in the Pacific for the first time in my life, and as that was not enough: It is also the first time I find myself on a inhabited island (UK and Ireland don’t count!).
It is morning and it’s Sunday on this side of the planet. We have been awake since 03:00 Fijian time, 08:00 (Saturday) Mexican time and 14:00 (Saturday) Norwegian time. In other words: I am a bit ”time-confused”. At the moment I have the Norwegian time on my laptop, Mexican time on my mobile, while Florent is keeping the Fijian.
Our fifth plane will take us from Suva (the capital of Fiji) and to our last stop Funafuti, Tuvalu. So I guess now it is the time to ask what I expect. What am I looking forward to, what am I stressing about and what am I scared of?
I am looking forward to seeing how Tuvalu is and looks like. What the people care about and everything that comes with a new country and a new culture.
Funafuti is the capital but is not the biggest island. Around 50 percent of Tuvalu 11000 inhabitants live here. The island is overpopulated because of the rural exodus process of the past years. There is just one sandy beach(!) far away from the city centre – and on the way there we have to cross the waste dump… I don’t think Western waste management and consumer mentality works as well in small island states as Tuvalu. On the top of that, they don’t produce a lot for export and mainly live of aid and by selling the domain .tv.
There are many thoughts that run through my head on the way to this island. How is it to live on a small island, alone far far out in the Pacific Ocean. How will it be to live for a long period of time in such a small society (5000 people)? How are the people? The culture? And will I be accepted?
When you live on a small island state that in average range 1 meter above sea level, it is natural to be a bit scared of waves. And I am quite scared of those called tsunamies. It can happen on Tuvalu – because apparently they have an alarm system and routines for what they will do if a tsunami is coming. However, thanks to its shape and its reef that will split the big waves in two and then avoid the island, Tuvalu is so protected.
(Tsunamis comes from oceanic earth quakes or land slides and are not (directly?) caused by climate change.)
Typhoons and tropical storms fall into the same category (minus the climate change part – climate change is and will indeed intensify and increase the occurrence of such storms). I thought that Tuvalu lies outside the ”Typhoon area” and that we would be protected against such events. But I was at least a little bit wrong. Apparently it is guaranteed that we will have at least one tropical storm – especially during the stormy season (March). I experienced two of these in Vietnam – and it was not any fun.
Other small worries are trivial things like food and clothes. When it comes to dress code, Christianity stands strong on Tuvalu and consequently they dress conservative. I don’t know what I will do with my cute little dresses and skirts – but I bought three long dresses here on Fiji – so at least I have something to start with.
And then food. Tuvalu has some kind of incidental food supply and produce very little themselves. This means that there is generally little access to fruits and vegetables and more access to breadfruit, cassava, pulaka and taro (all sources of carbohydrates), coconuts, chicken, eggs and pigs (but only for special occasions). And for the record – cheese is expensive – so I will have to let go of my Norwegian habits. (But they got a lot of dry noodles – so my Vietnamese habits are safe for now … he he).
One last worry is the internet access, but I guess we will all see how that goes.