October 23

We have been here at Tarawa about 4 days now and we’ve gotten a lot done and seen a bit of the place. The first day after we cleared in with customs and immigration we took a local bus the length of the island (or at least as far as the bus would go) and back again. It was quite interesting. They use vans for busses and they just keep packing people in until they are sitting in each other’s laps, literally. Though as visitors we were not expected to take anyone in our laps. From the bus you can see the entire spectrum of island life, right into people’s homes which mostly have no walls due to the incredible heat. The place is very crowded with over 15,000 people packed into a space of about 15sq miles.  

The next day, Tuesday, we didn’t do too much except shop. In the morning I went to the Immigration office to pay the visa fee which I couldn’t pay the day we arrived as I hadn’t enough currency (they use Australian money here). But when I got there they couldn’t find the paperwork! So, come back tomorrow. I also visited the internet café but couldn’t upload photos (which was my main goal) since they had a firewall and a proxy which would not allow ftp (file transfer protocol) to work. I did some shopping at the stores. I found peanut oil which I find essential for wok cooking (Chinese food) which was unavailable in Vanuatu . I also bought some nice cheeses (Australian cheddar which is not bad) and other odds and ends.

Yesterday I went back to Immigration and this time they found the papers (visa applications) and paid the fee ($40/per person) and had our passports stamped. Then I found a different internet place at the telephone office and I was able to use ftp to upload the photos. In the evening we were invited to a pot luck at “Dirty Dotty” and met the crews of 4 or 5 other boats in the bay (“Rainbow Chaser”, “Sailor’s Run”, “Dancer” and William from “Piet Heyne”). It was quite a crowd and lots of fun.

Today was diesel day and we went to shore in the AM and bought a 55 gallon drum of fuel and transferred it to jerry jugs and then to the boat. Mark from “Dirty Dotty” loaned us his portable fuel transfer pump which made quick work of pumping the fuel into the tanks. We bought a second drum and sold about a third of it to James on “Rainbow Chaser” so in the end we took on about 84 gallons of fuel which puts us in pretty good shape.  

In a few minutes Mark and Dorothy from “Dirty Dotty” are coming for dinner and I am making a beef curry and Indian rice with saffron and some chapatis (whole wheat flat breads). Mark is hilarious and Dorothy is lovely and we are expecting to see a lot more of them in the coming months as we are all going to be spending time in the Marshall Islands .