I’ve been in Hawaii this week and took a break from the website. I’ve been going to movies, eating junk food and reading fiction. I’m currently waiting for some mail from the mainland to arrive and for a package I sent out to arrive. I’ll probably be here for about five more days I’m guessing.
I have some interesting stuff I’ll post in a few hours.
Yesterday, I was refused entry into the nation of Kiribati.
You read that right. They wouldn’t let me into the country.
The reason is one for the ages…..the ink used by the pen of the official in the Kiribati Embassy bled off the visa stamp (which was visible), so I was denied entry.
THE INK FROM THE PEN BLED OFF THE PAGE!!
The stamp is very clearly a stamp from the Suva, Fiji embassy. On the opposite page are clearly my entry and exit stamps from Fiji two weeks ago. Moreover, on other pages are clear stamps showing where I’ve been in the two weeks in between.
If you have been reading this site, you know the only reason for my previous visit to Fiji was to visit the Kiribati embassy. Getting the visa was the only reason I made the trip and I had contacted officials from the Kiribati ministry of tourism about getting a visa. I jumped through every hoop asked of me.
The immigration official could have made a call to the Suva embassy to verify my visa but didn’t make the effort. I clearly had a visa stamp. I clearly was in Fiji in the last two weeks. Moreover, the visas are issued for three months and the stamps in my passport have been no where but the pacific for the last three months. Kiribati doesn’t have anywhere I could have gotten a stamp other than Suva or Honolulu.
The other people working at the airport couldn’t believe what this guy was doing. It was ridiculous. I am normally a very reserved person. I take everything in stride and just deal with things. ….I threw a shit fit. Grade A, world class shit fit.
They were going to put me back on the Our Airlines flight to Honiara. I told them to put me in jail till Tuesday when I could make my Air Pacific flight out of the country. I also told them that they’d have to get police to drag me onto the plane.
The airport manager (who has zero say over immigration) talked to me, saw my passport, saw my tickets, said it was bullshit but there was nothing he could do about it. Thankfully, there was an Air Pacific flight to Nadi arriving in an hour and I could get on that flight. It wast the same flight I was supposed to take on Tuesday, so when all was said in done, my ‘trip’ to Kiribati got compressed from 4 days to 3 hours.
I’m still furious after twenty four hours. I can deal with different cultures, poor food, crappy rooms, bugs, people trying to rip you off, and boredom. I cannot however deal with clueless bureaucrats who view their job in life as “is there ink on the paper”. This problem would have been so easy to solve in a way that would have been acceptable to everyone, yet taking that extra action was beyond the scope of his imagination. In his world it is a simple question of “is there ink”, not trying to enforce actual policy.
I should also note, that I was unable to send any email to Kiribati from the Solomons. All my attempts to email hotels in Tarawa were immediately kicked back and I had to have Amy do the reservations for me.
I am now in Hawaii. I basically just accelerated the next two weeks and skipped Tuvalu for a later time in my life.
I’m going to veg out here for the next week, see movies I’ve missed all summer, buy the new Dune book that comes out on tuesday and regroup.
The South Pacific part of my journey is now officially over.
I hope to finish Micronesia in August, or at least the first week of September. It should be much easier as flights are handled by one major carrier for the region (Continental)
I’m sitting at the Honiara Airport (which amazingly enough has wireless) waiting for my flight on Our Airlines (former Air Nauru).
I’m not going to get a chance to do many posts on Nauru, so I might as well take the opportunity while I can.
Nauru is small. Very small. The country is so small, that the buildings and airport runway clearly show up on a map of the country. It is only one island, not a chain. It has a population of around 12,000. It is an independent country with a seat in the UN General Assembly.
Nauru might just be one of the saddest stories in the Pacific. The island was used for thousands of years as a stopover for birds which migrated in the Pacific. As a result, Nauru, along with several other Pacific islands such as Banabas became what is known as ‘phosphate rocks’.
In other words, they were covered with bird poop.
That bird poop had extremely good quality phosphate. It required very little processing to get it to a useful state. The British and Japanese who both colonized the island at one point or another mined the island. When they got their independence, they kept right on mining.
At one point in the 1980s, they had the highest per capita GDP of any country on Earth.
That is when things started to go downhill…
If you can see on the map, it’s a small place. There isn’t much to mine and when it was gone, it was gone. They invested the money poorly on musicals and buildings. The people of Nauru shifted their diet to junk food and became the most obese people on Earth. The inside of the island became so gutted out from mining, it looks like the moon. (actually, the moon probably looks better).
So in the end, they wound up broke, fat, and what little land they had was scarred.
A few years ago, the one airplane they had in their national airline was repossessed.
They tried their hand at banking and the US Government came down on them for money laundering. They agreed to stop the banking if the US gave them aid. They stopped the banking, but we never gave them anything.
Like many of the really small countries, they have recognized Taiwan over China. China offered them a bunch of money to recognize them, but Taiwan then beat the bid and they shifted back. Taiwan purchased the airplane I’ll be flying in tonight.
About two years ago, they went missing for a while. There was no air flights or radio contact with the island for like two months.
So in a nutshell, that’s Nauru. My original plans had me staying on the island for three days, but they changed flight schedules, so now I’ll only be here for an hour…. in total darkness. The best I can hope for is to get a passport stamp during the layover.
I guess a single post on Nauru is sort of fitting.