Day One: the adventure in Funafuti begins

Liam Fox, Lead Project Engineer at solarcity is currently stationed in Funafuti, a small Island in the Pacific for the next two months as he completes a solar installation with Infratec Renewables on the Government Building. He shares with his experience of life on the Island so far. 

After sitting in a steamy departure lounge and enduring a two and a half hour flight from Suva over the open Pacific Ocean we started to descend through the clouds and I got the first glimpse of Funafuti, the Island to be my home for the next two months. I lugged my 72kg of luggage through the over-crowded arrivals area to the outside of the terminal where I was greeted by Apisai, our logistics contact on the island, and Clara, the Australian woman managing the other solar project underway in Funafuti. We loaded up all of my luggage and headed down to the wharf with Apisai to inspect the waiting containers. After wandering around aimlessly for a few minutes I realised that there was no real system or logic to the location of the containers, and that we would have check the numbers of each of the containers one by one. Eventually we located our five containers and headed back to the office.

Apisai then dropped me off at my accommodation, which had been described earlier by Clara as “the three storey one” I can only assume it is the only one of such a great height on the island. We pulled off the sealed road and pulled down a side street which was really just one big puddle from the earlier rain. We pulled up outside the famed three storey apartment, a white concrete building, with a completely open bottom floor, shielded only by a patchwork of brightly coloured cloth hung up in the openings.

We collected up my heavy luggage once again and hauled it up the stairs. I passed through a timber door, with a cracked perspex pane, which had curiously been stitched back together with fishing line, the sort of resource strapped ingenuity necessary in small islands such as this. The owner rushed ahead of us with his bottle of “Mr Muscle” spraying it around the rooms like air freshener.

After settling in to my room and having a poke around the house I headed down to the store around the corner. The options were limited to say the least. I came back with a jar of peanuts and a packet of breakfast crackers, not quite the lunch I envisioned.

It was time to investigate where I would be stationed for the next couple of months. As I neared the site the government office building towered into view, the Taiwanese gift to Tuvalu looming over its neighbours. As I entered the lobby, I was taken aback by the scale of the building relative to the minuscule nation it served. I navigated the poorly labeled corridors to make my way to the office of the Works and Energy Ministry and set up for the work ahead.

Later that evening, as I made my way through the kids riding their bikes on the runway, and volleyball games alongside it a smile came across my face as I realised what a special place this was, and with it a sense of excitement for the coming months, in my new home, Funafuti.