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Talk about climate change. After weeks of working on a tropical island in 32 degree heat I’m now crunching across frosty ground on my way to work and happy to be indoors.
The initial challenge on working on the towering Government building with the hot Tuvaluan sun beating down from above was becoming just another day at the office. The biggest challenge we faced was still the incredibly steep 35 degree slope, where ropes and harnesses are needed just to keep us upright, let alone prevent the fifteen meter fall to the ground below. Jon, my other workmates' reference to Everest, wasn't too far off, you don't walk around this roof you climb it.
After a slow, but steady day at work Carolyn and I headed down to Filamoana for dinner where we met Andrea, a long-haired Sicilian PhD candidate from United Nations University in Bonn, Germany, and Vlad a solidly built Russian photographer on assignment for UNICEF. Desperate for a change from VB we ordered the (one and only) wine on offer. The sweet, chilled, red cask wine was far from the best I had ever had but was thankfully drinkable
As I unloaded my provisions with much excitement it felt as if I was setting up the Funafuti branch of Countdown, with the rows of tinned and packaged food lining the shelves. Just as I was finishing up I was joined by Carolyn my new flatmate, a girl from small town Massachusetts here on a study grant. Both exhausted from the heat of the day we made our way down to the jetty by the hotel to go for a swim.
We headed down to the wharf with a truck borrowed from one of the guys neighbours to pick up the gear that we had had shipped over and it appeared that I had spoken to soon about the fast pace things were moving, as our container which I had been told was ready for collection was still being held by customs. For small island nations with little revenue, import duties are very important, and customs processes are strictly enforced. Unfortunately, these processes are more than a little archaic and take an eternity. The influx of goods and equipment into the country for the multitude of aid projects which are currently underway had swamped the system and we were told we would just have to wait like everyone else. If there was one thing I had learnt during my time working in the islands, it was patience. Embrace island time, don’t fight it.