Christmas makes its living from the phosphate mine, but it has five or six years of viability left, so there is pressure to encourage tourism as a new source of income. The island’s USP is the red crab, there are many millions of them, they live on the forest floor and keep it clean. Once a year, not now, they migrate to the shore in order to spawn, and then come back, in their millions, crawling over anything in their way. The road-kill is apparently stupendous. We were given a tour of the island, we walked in the forest and climbed over the inhospitable terrain, we admired terrific views, were given talks on nature, and saw lots of crabs. There is excellent fishing, diving and snorkelling.
We rounded the visit off with a top-class steak and chips at the (literally “the”) pub-come-restaurant. It was Friday evening and many of the local population were there. The men were invariably in a uniform of flip-flops, shorts, wife-beater vests and baseball caps, the latter worn both indoors and out. It makes you wonder whether they plan their Friday evening outfit in advance. Which vest will go best with my new cap?
There is a problem with illegal immigration and boat people from Indonesia. No less than two Coast Guard cutters were sat on station during our stay, what a depressing occupation and consumption of resources.