Mauri from Kiribati!
This week we finished up in Tuvalu, hit the road (sea) and have arrived in Kiribati (this is pronounced kiribas – apparently they forgot to make an “s” when creating the alphabet, so “ti” is an “s”). Like most of the countries in the Pacific, it’s tiny. It’s made up of several small atolls spread over 1 million square miles of ocean, so no surprise that it’s the 4th least visited country in the world. Also like most countries in the Pacific, it traded hands before, during, and after the world wars. It still bears war scars of a US battle in 1943 and British and US nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s.
You don’t have to look far to see this either. The tools and shelters of war are now little more than rusting, moss-covered playgrounds that children are running all over. It’s a stark contrast to the beautiful coastline to come upon sets of guns and bunkers. Locals say that there is even more under the water – heaps of Navy ships – but the water has been way too choppy for any type of safe snorkeling.
Like Tuvalu, Kiribati is concerned about rising sea levels as they are only 4 meters above the water. I was sitting, watching the water when I met Eria-Terra. He was out organizing a beach cleanup with his friends and family. They are also severely affected by their own pollution, so he is trying to change the “colorful beaches” as he calls them (the trash being all the color) and help educate his people, who he says haven’t made the transition from consuming natural goods whose waste doesn’t pollute into modern consumer goods that come in cans and bottles and create trash. He’s just a concerned, educated citizen, working to effect change (and asking the government for help). I can’t wait to show you my interview with him.
We’ll be here for at least the weekend, and then head on to the Marshall Islands. It’s a bummer that customs and immigration will let you go to the outer islands, but you have to come back to the main island to check out. Because of this, it makes those trips unappealing as that’s a lot of ocean miles to back track, so not sure if we’ll make outer islands here, or in the Marshalls.