I never had a dream to leave the cold Norwegian winter and settle down on a tropical island, but that is what I did. It all started with with a rest from sports and job in advertising. But when I returned from the needed holiday-trip to Micronesia I found I missed the warm smiles and blue ocean. One and a half year later I sailed back.
When Coco Loco was wrecked in the Solomon islands I took a short trip
to Norway to publish a book and say hello to family and friends. After a few
shivering months in long underwear I was heading south again, by plane this
time. I visited friend in Kiribati, and then headed for the neighboring country
of Tuvalu to say hello to my friend Iakopo. I met Iakopo, he was now stationed
on the outer island of Nukulaelae as a radio-operator, but I also met Emma Toematagi....!
Well, the sworn bachelor proposed after knowing Emma "Last Wind" for a week, without knowing that she was the daughter of the old chief and without even giving her a kiss on the cheek! Pure Pacific magic if you ask me!
One month of wedding celebrations, with the bridge-groom in grass-skirt and flower-garland, and then we decided to settle down on the uninhabited coral-island of Motuloa where we had spoken to each other for the first time. Three kilometers across the lagoon from the small village with 350 people, one days sailing by ship from the nearest airport, in the worlds fourth smallest country. 900 people on 9 atolls with a total land-area of 26 square-kilometer!
Live on an uninhabited coral-island??
The first problem was of course to build a house where we could live, but finally Emma's family helped us building a large main- house, a cookhouse, an outhouse and a small guesthouse. Who needs tiles and carpets on the floor when coral-pebble covered with woven mats is much more comfortable and looks prettier?
Food on an uninhabited island? Well, some of my most pleasant memories are the strolls we took on the reef at low-tide. Seashells and delicious crabs - in an hour's time we had enough food for our dinner. And a moray-eel, hunted down with my machete, to use as bait on our shark-line. Have you ever tried reef-shark marinated in homegrown sweet basil and then fried on open fire?
Something cold to drink? My friends in Norway will refuse to believe me if I tell them that I did not long for an ice-cold beer for all those years on our island, but it's true!
So just don't believe that you need all those things that the commercials tries hard to tell you that you cannot live without. I have lived without Coke, Levis, McDonalds, aftershave and fancy shoes for many years -and I would love to do it again!
you do when there are no newspapers to read and no TV to watch ?
Well, when you have pigs, chicken, ducks, a cat, a dog, land to clear, coconuts and firewood to collect, fish to catch and a garden to attend to - you have no time to think about next episode of X-Files or Manchester United's last home-match. And you don't want to. To live a simple island-life is enough, and you would not want to change it for anything in the world!
Why did we leave our paradise?
All the islands of the independent nation of Tuvalu are coral-islands: atolls barely peeping out of the water. Yes, the top of our concrete water tank is in fact one of the highest solid points in the country, less than three meters above the sea-level - at low tide!
The laws of physics tells you that you will not have hurricanes in the equatorial belt. Somebody should to wake up old Einstein and Newton; We had three hurricanes in a row about Christmas-time our fifth year on the island. Something had changed - and you will realize what this really means when you are sitting in a house that has lost the top of the roof and is swaying from side to side, and you hear enormous waves thundering against the reef less than two hundred meters away!
"The climate-change forced us away!"
We were lucky. We survived, and so did all the inhabitants of Tuvalu, even if the country was declared a catastrophe-area and hundred of people lost their homes when the waves rolled across the islands.
"I have seen that the weather has changed, we have never had strong winds like this before. I have heard that the sea-level will rise, and can believe that next hurricane might bring even larger waves. We will have to climb to the top of the coconut-threes and then we will drown. It does not matter too much to me, I am old now, but the children should live!", my mother-in-law Fakalei said, after we had cleared all the debris around our house and watched all the fallen banana-plants and breadfruit-trees.
We had a four year old daughter. We left.
Want to know more about the reasons why we
had to leave? Click here!
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