My first Saturday on Funafuti brought with it a chance to do some exploring. After the obligatory coffee, I made a trip to the bakery for a loaf of fresh white bread, which I promptly enjoyed by quickly devoured half of.
Following this not-so-nutritious, but none the less satisfying lunch, Carolyn and I jumped on the back of my trusty red moped and made tracks for the northern tip of the islet. Once past the wharf the land narrowed to a mere 50 meters with the calm turquoise lagoon to the west and the sapphire blue surf crashing onto the shore to the east. The scenery as we drove north ranged from simple family dwellings set amongst idyllic coconut groves to stacks of rusted out cars and other machinery laying discarded by the roadside.
The road narrowed, and the amount of filth and rubbish on the roadside had reached epic proportions as we realised that we had stumbled into the landfill. It was a bizarre scene, the unsightly sprawl of refuse, set against a backdrop of swaying coconut palms and the serene Funafuti lagoon. Determined to reach the end of the islet we continued on foot, carefully dodging the multitude of discarded items littering the path. The landfill transitioned into a festering borrow pit, even more repugnant that most, taking up the width of the islet with the exception of a small embankment on either side separating it from the coast.
After exploring the rock pools dotted amongst the rugged ocean coast we made our way over to the gentler terrain of the lagoon side and headed up the coast. The fragments of dead coral lining the shore, smoothed by the perpetual motion of the ocean, eventually gave way to a soft sandy beach. The first I had seen on Funafuti. Our feet sank deeply into the sand, leaving lonely footprints on this otherwise untouched stretch of coast.
We neared the break in the land where the ocean met the lagoon, the waves crashing onto the reef, and then gently continuing on their way into the lagoon. Our vantage point at the very northern tip of Fongafale islet gave us almost 360 degree panoramic view of the surrounding ocean, northern and western islets of Funafuti fringing the lagoon and fongafale itself tapering off into the distance the lush greenery punctuated by only a few man made structures, most notably the gleaming white roof of the government building - soon to be transformed to supply Funafuti with clean energy from the sun.