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KIRIBATI When the British handed back The Gilbert and Ellice Islands the Ellice Islands decided not to join the new independent nation and they became the country of Tuvalu. The Gilbert Islands became the independent nation of Kiribati (which was later extended to incorporate the Line Islands and the Phoenix Islands). “ti” in Gilbertese is pronounced as “s”, so Kiribati is pronounced “Kiribas”. These are some impressions and images of a visit to Tarawa (anyone know their WW2 history?) and Abemama in the Gilbert Islands.

A journey with my son through a little of the South pacific in 2019.

Stepping off the plane was like walking into an oven. Such intense heat! Such a good decision to get out of the main island and capital Tarawa – interesting but noisy, busy and such a high population density. It was worth the 3 months, 18 emails and 3 bank transfers it took to book a 30 minute flight between Tarawa and Abemama. Crushed coral airstrip and, of course, no one to meet us. So thank you to Makin (from Nauru and Kiribati) for giving us a lift in the back of her uncle’s truck. Abemama Green Eco Hotel – “eco” means basic, “hotel” means huts. What a great experience living on an outer island for a few days. Tekoba Namoori who runs the place made us welcome and was went the extra mile every day for us. Turquoise lagoon, fish to eat every day, crashing ocean waves on the other side of the island, WW2 wrecks. We met lovely friendly Polynesian people every day, walking along the road or paths. The maneabas (meeting houses) are used all day long – tall roofs and open sides to draw the air in and keep people cooler. I thought I knew a bit about the culture and history, but I learned loads more talking to people. The flight back to Tarawa was pretty different – fish in plastic boxes and bags, live lobsters in coconut leaf baskets and the whole inside small plane reeked of fish. So many characters, so many stories. Another amazing experience!

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Sunset over the Tarawa lagoon.

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Typical store on the main (only) road on Tarawa selling second hand clothes, food, drinks and, of course, mobile phone top ups.

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The remains of a US fighter on Abemama.

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Accommodation at the Green Eco Hotel on Abemama.

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Homes on Abemama.

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One of many WW2 artefacts we found on Abemama.

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Abemama airport terminal building.

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Abemama (you can see the airstrip).

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Buying petrol for one of the motorbikes.

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Fishing.

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Old fish traps on Abemama.

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Abemama airport.

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Tarawa.

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