Time to re-cap on our stay in the Kiribati. For us it was a nightmare
Betio Tarawa the big smoke, the capital of the Kiribati. The dirty streets were lined with dead kittens, puppies a variety of other road kill and rubbish slowly fermenting in the midday heat. When it rained, the streets became a mixture of mud, sewrage and who knows what else. The beach was a place you only went to if you had gastro and wanted to join the locals in expelling your bowls. To say the least the place was filthy
Over crowding was at its finest. Little shanty shacks made of rusted away tin were crammed onto land like sardines in a can. The land slowly sinking away from them. Kids with snotty noses skipped along down the street next to you, begging you for $1. I couldn’t help myself but hold there hands, sucked in by their smiles. I would walk with the kids each day to the George Hotel. Here you can find internet that was around $3-6 for 2-8hrs. It’s slow and drops out but it does the trick.
When we arrived we anchored off the town of Betio. For us the anchorage was never nice. Waves crashed through our hatches at anchor ! Clearing in to Tarawa was reasonably straight forward. The officials came out to the boat after calling them on VHF. Customs was sorted out with in minutes. They didn’t go through any of the boats except one. If you plan on going to the outer Islands make sure you have your letter ready with your desired destinations on it to give to customs on arrival. This will make things alot quicker and you will have your outer Island permit with in a few days.
Immigration on the other hand decided not to show up. This involved a very crammed bus or truck ride down to the immigration office in Bairiki. When we arrived the place was packed. Once all formalities where done, we were free to wander around. There was a christmas fair on during december if cheap plastic toys, sarongs and secon hand clothes are something that interest you.
On departure a $50 feed is charged and there is alot more fiddle farting about. Going and seeing the port captain, paying your fee, then visiting customs and Immigration. The customs office is just off the port opposite the coconut oil factory. Coconut oil is $3 for 2L. With head lice running rampant, you might want to purchase some. Drown hair in coconut oil and cover for 24hrs, brush with lice comb, repeat as necessary. We got headlice alot with the girls unable to resist cuddling and head smooching the other kids.
You will dock your dinghy in the little harbour, off the city dump. We did see one of the boats with shallow draft take his yacht in there and tie off. Rat guards are a must, unless you enjoy the hairy little vermons and need some company.
We spent a little too much time in Tarawa with sick little girls and a broken engine. This is one place you dont want to get sick ! If you do, you probably want to get air lifted the hell out of their. The hospital didn’t have the facilities to give Beany a drip. Thats how bad it is.
The outer Islands of the kiribati are completly different however. Blue clear water, palm tree lined beaches, white clean sand and very friendly people.
Their customs is to share a “wee moto” drinking coconut, when a guest arrives. We drank alot of coconuts and I am talking like 6 or 7 each time we went ashore. Most houses had a squat toilet similar to the ones you see in asia. Handy info once you have drunk 6 coconuts. They will clean it up before you use it.
Its paradise sitting under a palm tree drinking coconuts and watching all the kids play so happily. Helping the men go net fishing off the shore, while the pigs squeall with excitement eating the left over coconut.
A police man came out in his dinghy and checked our outer island permit. He was very friendly, took our paperwork, wrote all our details in a book and went on his way.
The outer Islands were beautiful, if only you didn’t have to go through Tarawa to get to them. I guess the dirtiness of betio was worth it to see such beautiful atolls.
This was just our experience and like I said we had very sick girls, which had us very worried and very annoyed at the place.