If you find yourself in a maneaba(village meeting house) or any communal gathering with locals, you will almost certainly be sitting on the floor for a long time, which can get a bit uncomfortable. You must remember the following: when eating or talking, you will be seated in a circle, so make sure you are always facing the inner circle. To face away from the rest of the group is considered rude. Also, sit with your feet either underneath you or tucked to the side, or with your legs crossed. Sitting with your feet pointing towards a person can be interpreted as a challenger. After the meal or meeting, you will be allowed to lie down, but if you do so, make sure your head is pointing towards the group, as it is considered rude to do otherwise.
After drinking the juice, Keetia showed us how to use a normal kitchen knife to break the shell open. You turn the knife around holding it by the blade, and use the handle to knock the nut in a circle around the top. On your second round the nut cracks open, and you can use the knife to scrape out and eat the remaining meat :-)
This knowledge became very useful on our camping trip to Biketawa! (pic 2 - 4)
In the coastal areas of Finnmark, Norway, people have the habit of taking a stroll on the wharf when boats arrive. In Kiribati they have the habit of waiting at the airports for the planes to land :-) It is kind of the same thing, homecoming friends and visiting travellers bring news from the rest of the world, and the ships / planes bring goods. When my youngest son was little, we often used to go to the airport to watch planes come and go, too. A little more traffic at Sola airport, though.
As in Finnmark, it is a nice way of meeting the locals, and you are often entertained while waiting :-)
Keetia worked in the restaurant of Hotel Otiintai. We asked her for cocnut juice for breakfast, but they did not have any. The next day, on her day off, she brought us fresh coconuts which her brother had picked and peeled. She then tought us how to rip off the fibres and open up the eyes with a normal table knife. The coconuts we buy in Norway have a very hard, dark brown shell. We have to drill open the eyes and use a hammer or saw to open the nut after drinking the juice. These coconuts are young and fresh, and easy to open.
We asked our friend Keetia from Hotel Otiintai how come all people in Kiribati have such strong, pretty, white teeth. She told us the secret: Clean them with burned coconut. My son wanted to try it, you can see the result on this picture :-)
Our hosts on Pearl Shell Resthouse, Ioanna and Bakaati, are local primary school teachers on Butaritari. One of their collegues, an american woman, was going home after a couple of years, and they threw a party for her. We were invited too, since we were guests of the resort. The other collegues gave a performance of traditional dance.
Most islanders use the ocean as a lavatory. And if not, the sewer leads into the ocean anyway. The picture shows my son going to the loo. In this case, on the ocean side of the atoll. But the lagoons are commonly used as well. Thus I agree with Glenn57 in his warning against swimming in the lagoon. We never did, after seeing what was floating around there :-( In some places, where the lagoon opens up into the ocean, the rise and fall of the tide sort of cleaned up, but it was not a nice sight! Somebody should donate a lot of biological toilets!
The old building tradition is still very common, especially on the outer islands, but also on Tarawa. Houses are built from material found on the islands, that is trunks and leaves from palms and other trees like the pandanus tree. The construction elements are tied together with string made from coconut fibres. The pictures shows me learning how to make string.
People are a bit conservative when it comes to showing the body. Both men and women should wear shorts and t-shirts when bathing and sun bathing. The bikini I am wearing in this picture is NOT deasant. But I took a risk, since we were far from other people and it was in the middle of the night ;-)
Usually,there is a assembly hall in a village. And sometimes,they hold a meeting.PHOTO:DANCE PARTY AFTER RELIGIOUS MEETING.