Sunday, April 28, 2013


We basically only had 2 days in Funafuti, and so didn't have a lot of time to relax and explore around. But we hit the highlights.

We had planned to rent 2 motor scooters for a day and see the sights together. But when we started walking around on Friday asking for someone to rent us scooters, no one in town had any for rent. Believe me Ulyana and I asked every place we stopped if they would rent us a scooter, and if not, where could we find one to rent. Eventually we learned that a good percentage of people don't own their own scooters, but when the weekend rolls around, they rent one for the weekend. So it's next to impossible to find one on Friday.

Eventually we ended up at "Andrew's". It looked like a mechanic's shop for scooters. But later we found out that Andrew is a dealer for scooters. His mechanics were commissioning a couple of new scooters, and there were 4-5 more in the shop. Ulyana begged Andrew for "just one scooter until tomorrow". He finally relented and rented her his son's scooter.

So, while the guys were back aboard Soggy Paws and Challenger fixing things, Ulyana and I ran up and down the island--to the end of the road to the south, and nearly to the end of the road to the north. Ulyana was driving and I was hanging on for dear life. About 2pm, we met with Jerry back at Immigration, where he managed to get cleared out. By then I had seen all I wanted to see, shopped a little, and hitched a ride with Jerry back to the boat. But Ulyana was just getting started... she connected with a young Tuvalian girl going to the University of the South Pacific, Tuvalu, who had lived in the U.S. for a few years with her parents (who turned out to be the Ambassador to the U.N. for Tuvalu). Ulyana ended up going out partying with her at "The Club". We old folks just went home and enjoyed a quiet moonlit night aboard.

We had dinner out at the one hotel on the water (facing west). This turned out to be an inexpensive but so-so meal. On the west side of the island, it's kind of hot--the easterly wind is pretty much blocked by the hotel. I don't know the name of the hotel, but it's the one right next to the Government Building. We had lunch at Filomena's, the other hotel. It was better and cost $6.50, plus faced the east, so there was a breeze.

Saturday morning, Dave had finished repairing the raw water pump on the engine (it had a small leak), so we borrowed Ulyana's scooter and ran up and down the island again. This time we made it all the way to the north end of the road--where the trash dump is. It's sad to see so much trash dumped right there in such a pretty environment. I know WE generate trash in the U.S., but we have more land to hide it on.

Not all the trash ends up in the dump. We saw some houses that were just disgraceful. Whether they had dumped all that trash in one spot, and it just got washed all over by high water, or whether they just tossed the trash every which way out their back door, we couldn't tell. But there was trash everywhere.

There are only 3 or 4 sights of note in the Lonely Planet. One was the library, another was the Philatetic Society--both of these were closed on Saturday. We found the "earth mover" apparently left over from WWII, and duly took a picture of it. By the time we got to looking for David's Drill, (a drill site from 1898 where Darwin's controversial theory on how atolls are formed was proven true), I was getting sunburnt, thirsty, and tired. Other cruisers had reported finding it after looking for 3 days (but didn't give a waypoint), and said "how uneventful--a concrete base with a small hole in it, surrounded by weeds and bush!" Someone else had told us it was in the middle of a pigsty. So when I was whining about being hot, tired, and thirsty, Dave took a picture of a pigsty somewhere in the general vicinity of its reported location, and called it good enough.

Another thing we were looking for was bananas for sale. We visited 3 or 4 stores but they just laughed at us. No one BUYS bananas in Tuvalu--they grow in everyone's backyard. Apparently we might have found them at the market, but we found out too late that the market runs from 6am-9am and 5pm-??. If we had more time, I am sure we could have procured some bananas, but we'll be banana-less at least until we get to Tarawa.

On the last night, Ulyana was invited to a wake. (and took Jerry along) Jerry said there were about 100 people there, many of them part of the upper crust of Funafuti society. They were introduced to the Prime Minister and several other ranking officials... and treated like royalty themselves. He said it was a good feed, too.

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