Friday, 25 March 2011

Time for an update

We know you've all been glued to your computer in anticipation, so here's an update on our life in Kiribati.

The Australian High Commission has a (fake) grass tennis court (and a pool!) that they open up on Wednesday evenings for ex-pats (and some locals) to play soccer. We went last week and met heaps of young Aussies, most of who are living here either as volunteers like us or working for AusAID. We have since seen many of these imatangs (white people) again around the street, for lunch at Betio and at Captains Bar, which is the only pub here that ex pats frequently visit. Captains is in walking distance from our house, which is handy.

There is also a more competitive and male-only soccer match on Friday evenings at the soccer field near us. It tends to be imatangs against locals. Pete scored a goal in his first game there (photo of game above). The soccer field has no grass and like everything else here, it is just sand/dirt. It recently had lines marked with melted car tyres before the game. There are real soccer goals, but no nets, the game was quite serious with a referee and linesman. On that point, a French navy ship has been docked in the port here, apparently heading for Hawaii. Yesterday we saw the French navy team playing against I-Kiribati guys on the same field. The French team were fully decked out with matching shirts, proper socks and shoes. Some of the I-Kiribati guys were wearing matching shirts, but at least 50% of them we playing bare foot. The I-Kiribati team were winning by 2 at half time and the French team were getting quite annoyed, plenty of talking and hands in the air. That was pretty entertaining for everyone on the sideline. They played just like their national team, complaining to the ref every 5mins...

We were sitting on our balcony the other night when a mini coconut type fruit came flying at me out of the darkness. It was as though someone standing on the beach had thrown it at me, but no one was there. Odd. We think it must have just been a funny gush of wind that caught it just as it was falling from the tree. We than had a big storm that night that woke us up and the bin toppled over on the deck. When Pete went to check what the noise was, he saw the washing that was on the line barely holding on. We saw a pair of shorts get whisked away in the wind. He ran outside with bare feet and in his pjama shorts doing circles in the yard trying to find it. Remembering what happenend early in the night and given there are numerous coconut trees, he grabbed a towel and wrapped it on-top of his head. Im sure it would have looked quite funny seeing him running around checking anything that resembled a pair of shorts with a towel on his head in the wind and rain. Eventually he gave up when the dogs started to stir. He found the shorts the next morning. The top peak of our balcony maneaba (like a traditional hut-like pergola) which was held down by rocks and string came flying off much later that night in the same storm, but there was no other damage thankfully.

On Sunday afternoon we went with Tess and some girls from her running group to Carrier's on North Tarawa. The cabin section of the truck was full, so Pete and I sat in the tray of the truck. I know that would never be allowed back in Aus, but it is very legal here- even the cops do it. It wasn't overly comfy (especially when going over speed bumps), but was fun and the breeze was nice. You can only drive so far on South Tarawa before you hit water and the road doesn't go any further. People walk across at low tide. It was high tide when we arrived, so we paid 50cents each to get the boat across. We all ordered real cappuccinos (double shot). The local girls didn't like them. They're used to instant coffee with heaps of sugar ("soka" in I-Kiribati). We played some volleyball while we were there. It was heaps of fun. Sport seems to be a good ice breaker when there is a language barrier.

I joined the running group for a 6am run on Monday. They go every Mon, Wed and Fri morning. I missed yesterday because I slept in, but will join them tomorrow. They run along the causeway where there is plenty of room on the side of the road (you could almost call it a footpath) and no dogs.

Speaking of dogs, we had a scary experience when we got home from dinner out the other night. Our driveway was really dark and there were a few barking dogs between us and our house. Those dogs don't belong to the landlord. They're either neighbour's dogs or strays. They saw us coming and barked even louder. We tried to go around and shoo them away, but one went a bit crazy and was closing in on us, growling. We've been told to bend over and pick up rocks to throw at them to make them go away. Someone had swept the dirt clean, so we couldn't find any rocks. We were panicking, thinking we were about to be attacked, when I found a small lump of cement. I yelled and threw it at/near the dog and it landed with a thump on the ground. It didn't hit the dog, but stalled it long enough for us to run up onto the deck. By this stage the dogs that actually live here were barking at us as well and blocking our front door. We thought "here we go again" this will be the end of us, but then they recognised our voices and calmed down. Our hearts were pounding for about 10 mins after we ran inside. We've told this story to people here who don't seem to think anything of it. Dog bites are fairly common, so you need to be careful. We're up to date with vaccinations, so we should be fine. It is more the fear of the agression of the dogs themselves than fear of the bite hurting that worries us. I'm so glad we have fences and leashes to control dogs in Aus.

I feel really sorry for female dogs here. The male dogs want to impregnate any females they can find. Our neighbour's dog has a broken leg, so she can't run away from the males. There is 1 particular big white dog that seems to have taken a liking to her. Poor thing.

A ship arrived on Sunday, so I was able to buy fruit and veges yesterday. Yay! I bought 2 different kinds of apples, a pear, kiwi fruit, oranges, grapes and potatoes. We have been able to buy small sugar bananas on the side of the road, these seem always in supply. We heard they are grown on another island and imported in.

We have been going to lunch each day at the same place in Betio called TKT. Our lunch group seems to grow each day. I think the employees/owners there are getting excited that we're expanding the business, but they don't cope very well with the numbers. They never had enough forks for the first few visits, but they seem to have acquired some more.

Until next time... Tia boo.

From Nicky with a little assistance from Pete.


  1. Lovely to hear all this news. Beware of the dogs! You'll need to protect me when I visit.

  2. It all sounds great, You will soon be almost feeling like locals. It's good to hear you are making the best of everything.
    may you continue to have fun andrealise what great opportunity you have.
    We love you both very much
    God bless,
    Grandpa and Grandma.

  3. What a great insight into life there. Thanks for all the detail; it is much appreciated. I had similar problems with marauding dogs in the kampongs in Malaysia; just awful. At least I will be more prepared this time. Keep up the good work Guys.