We arrived at Bonriki International Airport on Tarawa ready for a 2 night/ 3 day get away with overnight bags and a much bigger esky containing the necessaries we couldn't access there, wine, cheese, crackers, more wine, oh yeah and water!!!
so above here we are sitting in Departures and below "Good-bye Tarawa" (we live right at the bottom end of the island, right at the back of the photo!)
.......and "Hello Marrekei" this atoll is a tear drop shape with land completely encircling a lagoon with two channels on either side leading out to the ocean.
the myth goes, on arrival at Marrekei you must travel in an anti-clockwise direction and visit the 4 female Ghosts whom protect the island. Once you have paid homage to all the ghosts you are then 'free' to travel in any direction, anywhere on the island. So we travelled anti-clockwise to out guest house, run by the council and VERY basic, this was my room....
there we picked up our borrowed motorbikes and our guide and thus began our adventures on Marrekei.
1st ghost, they are rock statues dedicated to these female ghosts, the caretakers and protectors of the island and it's people. Kristy, Junior (Belrina's son) & I were the three that needed to pay homage as Meei and Balrina had already done so years ago. You 'pay' your respects by leaving a stick of Irish Cake Tobacco...luckily we took loads as this is the currency of these islands!!!
Meei and I teamed up on one bike and Balrina, Kristy and Junior on the other, the local guys weren't sure about us I-matang chicks driving the bikes, so it was sore bums for Kristy and I by the end of the three days!! On the second night we went to another village as they wanted to welcome us also and we had to go clockwise, we felt like naughty girls as we raced our motorbikes along the air strip singing, honestly it was the most surreal thing to do.....
At the 2nd Ghost it is customary to rub your cheeks with the golden sand surrounding her statue which is situated right on the ocean!!
one of the inlets between the lagoon and ocean, we stopped and swam at on day three and yes it was bliss!!
Belrina's village wished to welcome us to Marrekei and threw us a full Botaki (party) in the village maneaba. This is a compliment of the highest order as they killed a pig for us. We had to observe the strict protocols that go with the maneaba, covering our shoulders and thighs, not sticking our legs out straight so our feet point into the middle and dancing when we were asked too!! There was a strict program of speeches, dancing, feasting, more speeches, dancing and dancing!!!
Here the women are performing a 'welcome' dance, it was honestly the most amazing night, Kristy and I felt so incredibly humbled as these people shared everything they had to welcome us. The food, dancing and singing was amazing. A memory that will last forever.
ti bi moa xx