Notes from Kiribati by Marina Bakova
The country of inordinate exotics, the state which was the first to meet Millennium, the only country in the world which is situated in all four hemi-spheres. Kiribati is a chain of atolls in the Pacific Ocean which are immersing, in other words, which are flooding due to sea level increase as a result of global warming.
Imperor is publishing “Notes from Kiribati” by Marina Bakova, wife of the Archchancellor of the Imperial See.
The flora is remarkably diverse tropical: Palm trees of different types, beefwoods, screw-pines, breadfruit tree, its fruits are used by locals as daily food, swell papaya. One of the most vivid impressions was visit to karaoke kava-bar (Kava – is a root of the plant from Fiji, in people it is named “intoxicating pepper”, by the way Kava is forbidden in Russia). We were amazed not by taste but by quantity of the liquid have been drunk: during the evening several basins or bottles were drunk with ease, but they sing wonderful, in sonorous clear voices they sang immortal covers. Cabinet’s ministers are regulars at this hot spot. Everybody is singing, it is very musical nation. Locals are spending their free time at a buoy – long roofed shed, covered by mat one meter above the ground. Micronesians are lazily dawdling here as in Gauguin’s times, one can pass away of lengthy tropical rainfalls and equatorial midday sun here. Locals are obsessed by children-production process and United Nations help them by supply of free condoms , there are a lot of newsletters posted everywhere telling about this. Perhaps this is my second trip far away civilization. The first one was to Antarctica.
It is interesting to remember Second World War events connected to Kiribati, rather to its capital South Tarawa. Errors of Japanese and American general staff cost lives of 3 thousand young guys that according to Great Patriotic War numbers is a nonsense but in America which has lost 1000 soldiers in senseless and mortal battle it was estimated as criminal error.
One could pass over Tarawa by feet. Without airplanes and ships Japanese station was situated in small trap surrounded by illimitable ocean. And though its leader boasted that this fortress would be storming by million soldiers during one hundred years, it took two days for Americans to capture it, but these were the most bloody days for American army. Only one Japanese military officer and 16 soldiers stayed alive, the rest were died, they showed miracles of heroism killing and wounding lots of Americans. According to our friends’ words locals dashed away on other islands of atoll and thanks to that they survived and gave a birth to lots of descendants. We should tell about it specially, children in families are calculated not in entities but in dozens. Our new friends’ family amounts 21 children, they are rather active, husband is a minister and wife is employee of the president’s administration. Besides they are wonderful singers and are regulars at kava-bar. The island’s inhabitants are mostly youth and children thought there is shortage of work places and place for living for adults already. Unlike the islands flooding, the overpopulation problem seems quite real today. Fortunately the climate allows to live almost everywhere and as one likes, house is supposed to have roof above one’s head which will save from backing sun and tropical rainfalls. The roof stays on columns. Stout buildings are rare and are owned by foreigners or state workers.
Some more information about traditions. Many people criticize Kava because it’s foreign Fiji influence, however alcohol is too expensive here and a secret of our “brazhka” we wouldn’t tell even under torture!) In gardens the most delicious papayas, bananas, coco nuts, screw-pines and breadfruit trees are growing. Pigs tied on their legs are sitting under trees. Pig breeding is a main and honourable tradition of islandmen. Killing of a pig turns into a holiday for the whole numerous family. They are celebrating until everything’s done. There are no cows and sheep and they have never been here. Chicken and rice is a daily food in ration 1/10. There is almost no fish and sea food: “People became lazy”, – locals comment. Women are mostly fattish, even young ladies, this is vision of beauty! Almost all of our friends are Catholics though one third of population here are Protestants. Small graveyards were overfilled long ago and it is common to grave the relatives just near their house entrance. There are small houses for spirits above some graves, it proves that pagan traditions are still alive.