TUVALU – TUVALU

Pecanje-Fishing

Pecanje-Fishing

Prelazak aerodromske piste-Crossing the runway

Prelazak aerodromske piste-Crossing the runway

Ribarski camci-Fishing boats

Ribarski camci-Fishing boats

Sa premijerom i portparolom Tuvalua-With the Prime Minister and Speaker of Tuvalu

Sa premijerom i portparolom Tuvalua-With the Prime Minister and Speaker of Tuvalu

Vesele zene ostrvske - The Merry Wives of Tuvalu

Vesele zene ostrvske – The Merry Wives of Tuvalu

Vesele zene ostrvske-The Merry Wives of Tuvalu

Vesele zene ostrvske-The Merry Wives of Tuvalu

Zabava na plazi-Fun on the beach

Zabava na plazi-Fun on the beach

Aerodromska cekaonica-The airport waiting room

Aerodromska cekaonica-The airport waiting room

Atol Funafuti-Funafuti Atoll and conservation area

Atol Funafuti-Funafuti Atoll and conservation area

Devojcica ispred crkve-A girl in front of the church

Devojcica ispred crkve-A girl in front of the church

Ispred Narodne banke-In front of the National Bank

Ispred Narodne banke-In front of the National Bank

Medjunarodni aerodrom. Iza je Parlament-Funafuti International airport with Parliament building behind it

Medjunarodni aerodrom. Iza je Parlament-Funafuti International airport with Parliament building behind it

Mrtvi su uvek blizu-The dead are always close by

Mrtvi su uvek blizu-The dead are always close by

Ostrvljanka na motoru-An islander on the motorbike

Ostrvljanka na motoru-An islander on the motorbike

Fidži je jedino mesto sa koga postoji let za ovu udaljenu pacifičku grupu
atola, koji su do nedavno bili Ostrva Elis, a danas država Tuvalu. Na putu
ka jedinom aerodromu na glavnom atolu Funafuti, razgovaram u avionu sa
svojim saputnikom, bivšim premijerom te zemlje, a sada portparolom vlade,
koji se zove Rt. Hon Sir Kamuta Latasi. Uvažena zvanja i godine koje nosi
ipak mu dozvoljavaju da se radoznalo upusti u razgovor sa jedinim strancem u
malom avionu i verovatno jedinim Srbinom koga je ikada upoznao i koji je
krenuo na njegov atol. Neposredno pored aerodroma, kaže mi, nalaze se
njegova kuća, zgrada Parlamenta i crkva, i sve što treba videti je na svega
desetak minuta hoda. Uz smešak mi kaže da najveći atol ima četiri hiljade
žitelja, a svih osam atola zajedno – jedanaest hiljada stanovnika, što nije
dovoljno ni za omanji stadion.
Kad sam se malo opustio, napravio sam opasku na račun njegove zemlje koju
postepeno guta Tihi okean, rekavši kako sam čuo da je Novi Zeland ponudio da
ih sve primi kad dođe taj čas. Ipak, žali se on, za sada su još veoma tvrdi
kad je reč o imigraciji.
Tuvalu se ubraja u polinežanske nacije i nalazi se tako daleko od svih, da
izgleda kao da je sâm na svetu, i pritom polako tone u okean. Nema ni aviona
koji bi povezivali njegove atole, već se do najdaljeg atola putuje tri dana
brodom od onog glavnog i najvećeg, Funafutija.
Pre sletanja aviona pista se raščisti od dece koja tu igraju fudbal i žena
koje suše veš. Aerodromska zgrada je središno mesto zemaljskih zbivanja i
provoda, pogled u svet i u nebo, odakle taj svet retko dolazi. To su,
uglavnom, poneki lekar ili humanitarni radnik koji se žale da nikakva pomoć
ovde nije od velike koristi, jer se ne upotrebljava u prave svrhe. Tuvalci
su, kažu oni, veoma ljupki, ali i veoma lenji i neodgovorni. Lakoća njihovog
življenja ogleda se u stalnim osmesima koje vam upućuju, kao i veoma
jednostavan život koji im ispunjava duge dane i beskrajnu daljinu koja ih
čini kao da su zaboravljeni od sveta. Život na atolu ima samo lepotu
tirkiznog mora koje ga okružuje. Sve ostalo je siromašan život, u kome je
bezbrižnost jedini spas.
Tuvalci nisu toliko gojazni kao njihovi južni susedi sa Tonge ili Samoe, ali
je, ipak, čest prizor u kome dve pozamašne žene na malom motoru, jure
aerodromskom pistom. Ili kako, stojeći na nekom koralnom grebenu i skoro do
grla u toplom moru, zabacuju štap za pecanje i izvlače male tune. Poneka
oskudna bakalnica ili kineska radnja jedina su mesta  za šoping. Često se
ispred kuća nalaze grobovi ukrašeni veštačkim cvećem i sve je smešteno sa
obe strane puta koji preseca atol celom dužinom. U tom oskudnom tropskom
prostoru svi žive kao u jednoj zajednici, tu se odlaže otpad, gaje prasići,
čuvaju deca, popravljaju motori, farbaju čamci, ali se ipak odvija skladan
život u kome čak postoje jedno policijsko i jedno vatrogasno vozilo, koja
sačekuju avione. Najpre se upali sirena kao upozorenje za raščišćavanje
piste, mada ni to nije uvek sasvim sigurno da se neko ne bi zaboravio i u
poslednjem času umakao od aviona.
Proveo sam lepo veče sa mojim novim prijateljem i najstarijim članom
Parlamenta, uz pivo u lokalnoj krčmi, kineskom restoranu i, na kraju,
oskudnoj polinežanskoj zabavi u jedinom hotelu u zemlji. Samo da dobijemo
izbore za dve nedelje, kaže, i Srbija će biti naš veliki saveznik. Kao i u
vreme Tita, koji je podržavao nezavisnost malih zemalja, seća se on. Sada je
vreme da se to vrati, makar jednim glasom više u Ujedinjenim nacijama.
Nikad se ne zna, mada čujem da su taj glas dali pogrešnoj strani.

Avgust 2010.
______________________________________________________

Fiji is the only place from which you can fly to this remote group of atolls
that were until recently called Ellice Islands and now make the state of
Tuvalu. I am on my way to the only airport on the main atoll Funafuti; I
converse with my fellow passenger, the ex-Prime Minister of this country and
now the government spokesman, Rt. Hon Sir Kamuta Latasi. His esteemed titles
and advanced age still permit him to engage with curiosity in a conversation
with the only foreigner on the small plane and probably the only Serb that
he has ever met who was going to his atoll. He tells me that his home, the
Parliament building and the church are all in close proximity of the
airport; everything that needs to be seen is only 10 minutes’ walk away.
With a smile, he tells me that the largest atoll has 4,000 inhabitants and
all eight atolls put together have a population of  11,000 which is not
enough to fill a small stadium.
When I felt a bit more relaxed I made a comment about this country being
slowly swallowed up by the Pacific Ocean mentioning that I heard that New
Zealand had offered to take all their population in when that time comes.
Yet, he complained, saying that immigration rules were still very tough.
Tuvalu belongs to the group of Polynesian countries and is so remote from
eveywhere else that it appears alone in the world; on top of that, it is
gradually sinking into the Ocean. There are no flights between its atolls,
rather it takes three days on a ship to get from the main and largest atoll
of Funafuti to the most remote atoll.
Before landing, the runway is cleared of children playing football and women
drying their laundry. The airport building is the centre of all Earthly
events and entertainment, providing a look into the rest of the world and a
look into the sky – where this other world appears from infrequently. Mostly
the visitors are doctors and humanitarian workers who complain that no aid
is of help here because it is not used properly. Tuvaluans are  very
charming people, but also very lazy and irresponsible, they say. The ease
with which they live is reflected in their constant smiling at you, as well
as a very simple day to day life; it fills the long days and infinite
remoteness which can make them feel forgotten by the rest of the world. The
life on this atoll only has the beauty of the turquoise sea that surrounds
it. Everything else is a life of poverty in which being carefree is the only
saving grace.
Tuvaluans are not as obese as their southern neighbours in Tonga or Samoa,
yet it is common to spot two big women on a small motorcycle speeding down
the airplane runway. Or they could be standing on a coral reef, in warm sea
water up to their chins, casting a fishing rod and drawing out small tuna
fish. An occasional under-stocked grocery shop or a Chinese store are the
only places for shopping. Very often graves decorated with plastic flowers
are to be found in front of the houses on both sides of the road that cuts
across the atoll. In this small tropical space everyone lives together like
in a commune – this is where the rubbish is deposited, pigs are bread,
children are being tended to, motorbikes are being fixed, boats are being
painted. Yet a harmonious life carries on, and there is even one police car
and one fire engine that always announce the arrival of an airplane. First
of all they start the sirens as a warning that the runway must be cleared,
yet even this is not always foolproof as someone could get distracted and
then escape from the runway at the very last minute.
I spent a nice evening with my new friend, the oldest member of parliament,
first having a beer in a local tavern, then in a Chinese restaurant, and
finally at a modest Polynesian entertainment show in the only hotel in the
country. ‘If we can only win the elections in two weeks time’, says he,
‘then Serbia is going to be our big ally’. ‘Just like at the time of Tito
who supported the independence of small states’ he remembers. Now is the
time to return the favour, at least with one extra vote in the United
Nations.
You never know though, I hear that they casted the vote for the wrong side.

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