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A new team member lands on the Island

The adjustment period was over, now it was time to get down to business. Week two in Funafuti came with it some normality and a sense of routine. The early starts, a short jaunt on my increasingly unreliable motorbike, before the seemingly never ending challenges of a day at work on the Funafuti PV project.

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

The following day, soon after hearing the siren warning of an impending arrival, closely followed sound of the plane’s engines screaming past I made my way over to the airport. By this time the plane had pulled up outside the ramshackle little terminal building and its weary occupants had emptied out on to the tarmac, and begun snaking their way through the various checks at the airport. After a short time chatting to some of the other waiting expats, Jon - our Nelson based electrician, emerged from the terminal. We bundled up his bags into the government car I had borrowed and made a beeline for the house. Jon was very quiet during the ride, a bit shell shocked about where he would be spending the next couple of months.

That evening after work we headed over to the hotel for a beer, where we meet Graham, a renewable energy consultant from New Zealand, here working with TEC. Ever eager to find fellow expats especially one from Auckland, and working in renewables, we quickly found plenty in common.

The next morning as I was leaving the office Avafoa called me in and explained that a new Permanent Secretary had been appointed and would be occupying my office, and I would have to move out. Having just tidied the plant room I nabbed a corner and set about throwing together a desk from a couple of cartons which had contained our inverters, and an off-cut of plywood, bringing a bit of kiwi ingenuity to the islands.

That afternoon, just as we were packing up, the peace was disturbed by the drunken pleas of innocence of a palangi (foreign) man being dragged into the police cells across the road. We were off to the hotel for our now routine beer and catch up with Graham to see if we could find out what all of the fuss was about. To our surprise, but great delight there was no more VB left on the island, and had been replaced instead with San Miguel, which the palangi would drink, and the new poison of choice for the locals, a potent 8% brew also hailing from the Philippines, called Red Horse. We soon found out that the ruckus earlier was caused by the American captain of one of the fishing vessels anchored out in the lagoon, who had come ashore with some of his crew for a drinking session at the hotel and obviously got a bit carried away.