Instantly at Home After Our Kioa Bimble
At a quarter past nine we set off from Buca Bay in high hopes of visiting Kioa Island, if not we would move on to Rabi Island. Six miles later we found calm conditions, so different from the hoolie blowing yesterday. We anchored in the middle but were clunking on coral, after Scott-Free settled we moved over behind them to the east of the bay and found an area of sand, all set and ready to go ashore to present the village chief with a bundle of kava. Mmmm.
Ashore we met Ben who led us to Loto, the elected Chairman of the Council and one of three village chiefs. He was very grand, welcoming and grateful we offered kava. He bade us sit and a young buck, wearing shades set to rolling a pile of ground root in a piece of cotton. Each of us in turn took a drink – straight down. I have to say whilst it didn’t taste of gritty puddle water, it was just watery with a peppery after hint, I can’t see it becoming the thirst-quencher of choice aboard Beez Neez. After Loto had taken his bowl and clapped three times, we chatted for a while and then he bade us a happy visit, to enjoy wandering and make ourselves at home. Our next stop was to laugh with the assembled children enjoying their weekend, playing under the school sign.
We walked west along the beach and Marina came out of her house for a chat.
Kioa Island was bought for fifteen thousand dollars in 1946 by the people of Vaitupu, an island in the nation of Tuvalu, with money earned from American Armed Forces during WWII and was settled on the 26th of October 1947 by thirty seven original settlers. The Tuvaluans brought with them only their culture, religion and lifestyle. Kioa Island is a Polynesian community in the midst of a Melanesian country. Visiting Kioa felt like we had left Fiji and travelled five hundred miles north to the islands of Tuvalu. We left Bula behind and said Talofa.
Tavita Taulia:- "In the year 1947 at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon in October, a ship by its maiden name the Avahou anchored on the beautiful sheltered waters of Salia bay. A great silence befell all those on board as the tired and weary Polynesian islanders scrambled into life boats to complete the last leg of the journey. As they set foot on solid ground, there was no one to welcome them - only the strange sounds uttered by birds on this uninhabited island as the only greetings offered for these lone travellers.
As the ship heaved its anchor and sailed away, the settlers finally realised they are now left alone in a foreign country far away from their homeland. The constant memories of their home country are the only realities that linked them to the past. What awaited them were difficulties encountered in the early years of relocation and yet a hope for a better future."
Tom showed us how the children were summoned to class by the traditional drum. He is at senior school on the “big island” and hopes to become a vet and work in Australia. We wished him well in his studies and then went to look in the classrooms.
More fun with the little ones.
Bear, his new friend and his treasures.
Across the well kept lawn we looked into the new pre-school building donated by the Rotary Clubs of nearby islands.
The large church was plain but serviceable. The Long Room decorated for ceremonies.
We visited the Council Offices and looked in the Boardroom. No chance with the language, thankfully everyone speaks excellent English – the only language spoken in school and Tuvaluan at home.
Over the other side of the village we saw a tired building that housed a pool table.
A jaunty angle to this kitchen.
A mix of houses.
At the far end of the village we could look back at Beez Neez.
A ‘one careful owner’.
Back the way we came, over the main bridge and time to wend our way home.
At dusk we watched some of the men rowing back from a days fishing.
Opposite on Taveuni Island, the rain fell, hard to believe that at this short distance Kioa is in draught with no rainfall in over three months.
ALL IN ALL SO WELCOMING AND HOMELY
A FRIENDLY, BEAUTIFUL ISLAND