There’s no-one waiting to meet me –I’m getting used to this as well - at Funafuti Airport. I’ve already gone through the tiny rickety customs hall accidentally, without my bag. The ladies waving signs on the road outside tell me it’s no problem as my accommodation, Filamona Moonlit Lodge (sounds so romantic), is just round the corner.
Nothing I read about Nauru is promising and my expectations are low. Alexander Downer (Australian foreign minister) is said to have rated it the most unpleasant country he had visited and I’m told ‘it’s only visited by the very curious’. But even my low expectations so far have been horribly exceeded, in the wrong direction.
Highlights of Wallis Island are a fifteenth century Tongan fort, built out of volcanic boulders, and a giant crater lake with plunging walls. After Kiribati and Marshall Islands this one is positively lofty surrounded by a lagoon that is spectacular when the tide goes out, iridescent turquoise swirls in ultramarine dotted with palm bedecked islets.
I’m sitting next to a lady from Kiribati (say it Kiribas) who lives in the States, but is going back to see her family. She thinks I should stay for two weeks, not four nights. I’m not telling her that the guide books say there is little to do and I’m only staying for four nights because there isn’t another plane till then. She also wants to know how old I am. She says that age is venerated here, not like America. Good.
The Marshall Islands capital is three ribbon strip islands joined by bridges leaving one gap in the atoll. The strips are just wide enough to fit a building at each side of the 32 mile paved road that romps through the middle.
Finally arrive in Fiji but in unscheduled Suva. Only an hour late. Then a taxi ride across the island back to Nadi (say it Nandi) with 2 other stranded passengers. It's really very pleasant, the sun is shining and there are great views of coral beaches and the reefs and islands all along the coast road. About 330 islands here.
They really do have little fox like gingery heads. The locals eat them, of course. (They also quite enjoy the odd meal of dog I'm told. ) If a white bat appears its a bad omen for the royal family. Someone will probably die. Next, fishing pigs- pigs that forage on the reef for small fish and sea creatures, when the tide goes out. Their chomping is so loud I suspect that they are eating the coral too, so that won't do it a lot of good.
The views are worth it, past more charcoal dots in the ocean, (yes turquoise sea again) swathes of palms, beautiful curving white beach. A few tiny iridescent blue butterflies, the odd large pink patterned top shell, skinks skittering (I know I've used the verb before but how else can you describe skinks?) And no human encounters of any kind. At the end an exquisite miniature lagoon complete with volcanic arches and blowholes, demanding that I splash about in it.