I rose at first light and headed down to site to meet the local workers. First to arrive was Masi, a friendly, well spoken guy, kitted out in his hi-vis, safety goggles and hard hat. The second, Peni a tall, softly spoken man with a long black beard and sunglasses, that made him look like he could be part of Hells Angels Tuvalu styles, of course no such thing exists. We set to work organising the equipment left behind since the teams last visit in January.
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.
We headed back for lunch at a stand which had been set up next to the airport. The large, rounded man tending to the bbq was plucking lamb chops and sausages out of a bucket, slathering them in sauce and arranging them neatly on the flaming grill. They came served in one of those horrible styrofoam containers atop a mound of rice, and doused in more of the BBQ sauce it was a delicious, albeit messy meal, especially in the absence of cutlery.
Having worked my way around half a dozen Fusi (small co-op stores) over the last couple of evenings I had rustled up enough ingredients for my first home cooked meal in Funafuti. Tonights culinary delight consisted of two minute noodles with some frozen mixed vegetables and chopped up omelet. It tasted fine, but certainly made me long for the grocer down the road from my Ponsonby apartment.