Kiribati

July 23, 2015

More scenic was the more rural, less developed, less polluted North Tarawa.

Best pronounced as "KEY-ruh-bas"!

Kiribati encompasses a vast chunk of the Pacific, stretching about as far east to west as the 48 US states. But the total land mass is only about 310 sq miles (800 sq km), not much bigger than little Singapore.
(This map is approximate.)

Cool bit of geography trivia:
Kiribati is the only country in the world that extends into all four hemispheres!

Top: South Tarawa where most people live.
Bottom: North Tarawa islets.
Walking to see relics of WWII,
Molly is standing in a rare clean pathway.
 Don't want to post nauseating photos of piles of
rubbish, so this site has my sanitized highlights.
With about 100,000 residents, Kiribati is ten times more populated and far larger than my last two visited countries: tiny Tuvalu and Nauru.

Many live in sad squalor in South Tarawa where the beaches and alleyways are ankle-deep in trash. It was the stomach-turning worst I've seen since Guinea.

I was told not to worry because once in a while a large enough wave washes a lot of the garbage into the ocean.

In my travels to the three other countries of Micronesia  Palau, FSM, and Marshall Islands ― last year I never saw nearly so much garbage in the towns and beaches.

Also sadly, poor Kiribati is one of the top ten most obese nations on earth with half (51%) not just overweight but clinically obese. (No source of pride that the US is down the list at 33%.)

Seeing my July 20 birthday on my passport prompted
a surprise song and celebration later at dinner.

Loved the smile of this lady (74yo) relaxing
on her hammock cooled by the ocean breeze.

Weaving mats while two other generations play.

Top: Parliament's architecture based on Kiribati sails/roofs.
Bottom: An sympathetic interloper sitting in the speaker's chair.

The Battle of Tarawa in 1943 was a crucial victory in WWII.
Over 6,000 died during the four days in took the U.S. Marines to
defeat the Japanese who had heavily fortified and mined the island.
Even today, over six decades later, many vestiges of the war remain.

Left: Beautiful clams (plus lots of milkfish) at a Taiwanese aquaculture plant,
part of its development aid to Kiribati.
Right: On display at the small National Museum, a necklace made of human teeth, high fashion in Kiribati in the old days.

Causeway linking islets in South Tarawa.

Some of the hotel staff put together an enthusiastic, sweet, informal show of traditional Kiribati dances. One Fiji visitor had brought raw kava powder which this Fiji guy is straining into the sour kava drink that is popular in parts of the Pacific. It supposedly has relaxing, mellow, somewhat sedative effects. I sampled a very small sip.