Wednesday, May 15, 2013

45 Minutes in Kiribati

That trip to Fiji I was hoping would be later in the month or even better in June got bumped up to today.  I had to leave a workshop in Hawaii two days early so I could take the most direct flight to Nadi.  That route took me through Christmas Island or Kiritimati in Kiribati.

The sign on the tarmac announced Kiribati as home to Phoenix Islands Protected Area, the world's largest and deepest marine protected area.  It is neither, of course.  At least not any more.

I never actually stepped foot on Kiritimati because they wouldn't let us off the plane.  They let us stand on the steps leading to the plane however, so I was able to snap a few photos.

The flight to Kiribati was mostly empty.  A large group of Americans from Washington State were on a retiree excursion to go fishing.  They all carried their fly rods on board and talked incessantly about fishing.  I handful of wives were along for the adventure.

Here's a closeup of the airport's VIP lounge.  I don't know if it is serious or a joke.

And the Welcome to Kiritimati sign proving that I was really there.

I was surprised at how large Kiritimati was.  The flight attendant told me it was the largest atoll in the world, but I don't think that's true.  I thought New Caledonia had that distinction.  Or maybe it was Kwajalein.  The atoll was also different from other atolls I've seen.  It wasn't emerald ribbons in a turquoise sea; it was sandy flats ringed by matrices of copra plantation.

The most isolated place I've ever visited is Maug, but I think Kiritimati might be a close second.  I imagine I'll never visit there again.  But then again, I never thought I'd go to Fiji seven times.

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