Tuvalu - Will this country soon be gone?


It's not a joke nor is it fake news. This country is vanishing slowly in the ocean and it doesn't require a biologists eye to see that this is true. A quick stroll along the shore shows me salt soaked palm trees and trunks which are in state "dead", "dying" and "death is watching you".

May 22 - Arriving in Tuvalu

Coming from Tonga via Fiji and then to Tuvalu. Flying to/from Tuvalu is only possible on Tuesdays and Thursdays and only von Suva (Fiji). I didn't want to spend almost a week in Tuvalu and so I decided on the options Tuesday to Thursday.
One long stretch of a land
Tuvalu from aboveVisa application cardTuvalu visa

In Fiji airport at the customs, I was heavily asked by the immigration security officer, due to my stop and goes in and out of Fiji the last few weeks and about my itinerary in general. They asked everything about my trip from where to where and what I have done. She wanted to see all my visa and even asked how expensive it was but denied to answer that question. After 15 minutes she let me go and I was surprised that the plane took off exactly on time from Fiji and arrived on time in Tuvalu. I didn't expect that at all! 

Don't have to mention that there is only a small airport in Tuvalu and immigration is quick and easy done at a small one-officer counter in front of the airport.
Small renovated airport in funafuti 2018

After six years I finally have the chance to visit here....

It was only five-six years ago when I for the first time heard about the country Tuvalu and it was because of some news about the rising sea level. Water reaches the street in Funafuti

Back then there also was a movie in theaters. "Thuletuvalu" which was about the melting ice in the place called Thule in the Arctic and about Tuvalu, which is getting all the water from up there. I was the only in the cinema watching it and I traveled for one hour to the cinema to see it.

Since then I wanted to see Tuvalu before its vanishing in the Ocean and what I found out on my visit, six years later after watching the movie, the destruction and vanishing in the ocean scenario is REAL and VISIBLE.

Trees and palms are soaked with saltwater
Tuvalu disappearingThe ocean eats through the palms of TuvaluTuvalus shores are dying

So this is Tuvalu

What to see and do in Tuvalu

Due to the low amount of days Ill spend in Tuvalu, I made an accommodation reservation all in advance and am staying in L's Lodge, which is really nice with good air-conditioning.

There is Wifi on available in Tuvalu but its expensive, of course. As in many other countries, here it's Tuvaluan Telecom that is the guru.
Expensive internet in Tuvalu

A first walk through the streets.
The winner gets all the fish
Tuvalu is slow paced and people are taking it easyIn Funafuti is the big school without airconditionHome of Tuvaluan family

The first day was finished after dinner at the Chinese restaurant. And when I say THE Chinese restaurant then I mean the Chinese restaurant, as there are only about three restaurants in total anyway and this was the only proper and fair priced restaurant that was open. They had good pork-rice.
Chinese restaurant in Tuvalu

May 23 - I want a motorbike - like a Tuvaluan

So many motorbikes here. Feels like every Tuvaluan has a motorbike. The narrow streets are cramped and flooded in rush hour with big wide people on motorbikes, sometimes even with two or more persons on a small motorbike, which is funny to observe.
Not much space for all the motorbikes in Funafuti
Tuvaluans love their motorbikesOne mainroad connects north and southOne mainroad in FunafutiBusy street in FunafutiIts possible to rent motorbike at several places in Funafuti

When I started to ride the motorbike I asked some pedestrian which way I best should ride to visit something of Tuvalu. The friendly person laughed:

Hello friend, welcome to Tuvalu. Sorry to tell, but we only have one road and in this direction it ends at some big palm and in this direction it ends at the Tuvaluan dumpsite.

The whole island of Tuvalu and its capital Funafuti is a long slope of an atoll and there is one long main road from north to south which can be driven with about 15 minutes by motorbike drive.

Basically, that's it, no further "long-distance" roads. The slim stretch of land is surrounded with very high sea level and at some points its visible to see both sides of the water, the lagoon side, and the ocean side.

The water is very high all along the whole country.
Tuvalu is getting smaller
Tuvalu has wonderful beaches

Dogs in Tuvalu are same lazy as their masters

The south of Tuvalu

At the south of the Funafuti is ... nothing. Just some bush and then the shore. The water is almost at the same level as the street and there about 1 meter left. When the water rises, there is no way to go. You can climb like Chuck Norris, but you won't be Chuck Norris enough to escape the rising sea level in Tuvalu.
Want to escape the water in Tuvalu on a tree?

Unfortunately, the US resigned from the Paris Agreement and therefore don't contribute any further to stop climate change, together with other countries. Of course, they don't admit that. Did they maybe the best they could do and sent this blue bucket to Tuvalu as help, to get rid of the water?
Tuvalu has its own bucketlist. Highest priority is to survive.

Tuvalu is Drowning

The north of Tuvalu

At the north of Funafuti is the Tuvaluan dumpsite and as I found out being a waste manager to coordinate and organize dumpsites in Tuvalu is a very high paid job. Totally understand that this is a huge challenge!
Waste management in Tuvalu is challenging

A lot of waste as in many other Pacific countries. Almost anything can be found.

The airport "air-super-field"

And then there is the airfield, oh yes the airfield, which is for multiusage purpose. Not much used by planes with two flights per week.

During the day it is used as a small highway to travel from north to south of Tuvalu, or as a huge roundabout to bring food to the pig farms on the right side of the field.
Multipurpose usage of the airfield in Tuvalu

When the working day is done, half Tuvalu is assembling around the airfield for playing sports.
The airfield is used as playground in the evenings

Everybody is gathering around the airfield

A lot of fun at the airport in Tuvalu which its code is FUN

But for Tuvaluans its the event area and the holy piece of land. But that makes sense as it is the only big open area in Tuvalu and therefore it is used for playing volleyball, rugby, athletics, and even the national soccer team is training there.
Right next to the airfield is the Volleyball court
Mainsport is Volleyball in tuvaluVolleyball is a main activity every evening

Among them also the police for improving their fitness level and playing football :).
Police officers in Tuvalu playing football or soccer

So yes the airfield is the main communal area for all Tuvaluans and every day around 4pm it starts becoming really busy, like a huge event, people from all over Tuvalu gather every evening and play sports there on the landing slope :)
FUN is busy every day and evening

On the other side of the airfield and at the shore to the ocean, all pigs from the whole island are kept. Farmer goes there every morning and afternoon to feed them. They are all under shelter and have a fantastic view of the blue ocean with fresh wind. Pigs live couldn’t be better.
Have a great view directly onto the ocean


May 24 - Go to the airport and then slightly left to SAMOA

The day started very early as right in front of the hotel a 15-headed construction team showed up to build a small piece of a 10-meter concrete road. Probably its necessary to have special skills or methods to build streets in Tuvalu, as on every full moon the water from below the earth is rising to the surface and floods huge areas of streets, including sometimes the airport.

It takes about three days to build a 10-meter piece of road (blue).
They build streets in Funafuti

Bye Tuvalu, hope there is no exodus going to happen

After breakfast, I packed the underwater camera and went to the shore where the Tuvalu-Ship was anchored. Wasn't able to go diving here in Tuvalu, but at least I wanted to make usage of the camera that I brought all the way from home :)

The ship looked like a Noah's ark that gets filled up and its last varnishing, before leaving Tuvalu behind.
Will it depart soon and evacuate all people?

The last activity for me in Tuvalu, here in a country which I never ever will visit again.

NOT because I didn't like it, (I absolutely liked my stay in Tuvalu), but because this country is so very difficult to reach. And in addition, maybe in already a few years this country will be evacuated even more intensively anyway, as a living here on a vanishing country gets more and more difficult.

SAMOA, I'm on the way now!

1 comment:

  1. In particular I like those eco-friendly motorbikes everywhere ;-)