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Published: June 28th 2008
I visited Nauru for the second time about six months ago and this is my much delayed account of that visit. I wanted to write this short description mainly so I would have an excuse to also post over 15 photos which I think show a different side of Nauru than my first blog entry. There is a lot of beauty on this island, despite everything. This entry is dedicated to the beaches, the ocean and the simple things, both natural and man-made that surprised me and made me smile.
My second visit to Nauru was quite a different experience to the first, largely because this time I knew the story and I knew what to expect. So this time, when work allowed, I decided to try and discover more of the natural beauty of this small place. And there is plenty of that. Yes, the interior of the island has been mined to death but there is a fertile ring of green around the edge of the island full of surprises and the continuous beach which encircles it has some unexpected and quite unique features.
The beach in Nauru is very accessible. It is always there, not too
far from the road and there is free access to most of it. At high tide, the waves reach quite high up the sand, and all is blue. At low tide, as the sea retreats, a whole lot of surprises await beneath for someone who hasn’t been here before. I would definitely say, wait till you’ve seen the low tide before you go for a swim and then pick your spot carefully and don’t go too deep.
There's usually not a lot of people on the beach. Sometimes there are some kids playing and swimming at high tide but at low tide it is pretty deserted. Depending on which stretch of the beach you choose, you might be the only person out there. Certainly when I went for my low-tide exploration of the reef, I couldn't see another soul in either direction. I had the whole place to myself, which was kinda nice.
As the photos show, the ocean floor is covered in old, dead coral, which more or less encircles the island. A lot of this is hidden at high tide, but not all of it, as some of the corals rise like sculptures from the sea
and can be up to five metres high! Underfoot, the coral is pretty sharp and painful so some kind of footwear is a good idea and if you are swimming at high tide stay close to the beach.
It’s a strange thing, at low tide I walked out and it actually got shallower as I approached the ocean, until I was walking in just ankle-deep water. Then it slowly started getting deeper again, till the water was up to my knees. I was quite close to the edge of the coral reef there and then I saw the edge, where the waves were crashing. It looked like a shear fall into deep water from where I was standing, about 3 metres away, and I was not prepared to go any closer. With the waves creating a strong current, I knew that if I lost my footing, I could end up out in the deep sea and it would be very difficult to get back on land from there!
I do find it quite amazing how the whole island is encircled by this coral reef, which creates a shallow “platform” around 10 to 50 metres wide (or maybe more)
all around the island. Big vessels cannot approach, as there are no natural harbours and they are forced to anchor outside the reef and use smaller boats to unload. An unusual coastal formation and I guess quite inconvenient for delivering the various goods which are much needed on the island.
Even more amazing is that there is a second “circle” of coral about 5 to 20 metres (very roughly) into the interior of the island. At one point the road which circumnavigates the island actually passes between two pieces of coral “wall” over 3 metres high. The rest of this “wall” is hidden in the trees and shrubs and behind this wall, the island level rises slowly to its maximum height of about 30 metres. Not that high, but in comparison with atolls only 2 or 3 metres above sea level, the Nauruans can at least rest assured that their island will stay above water for the foreseable future.
The photos show just a few examples of these “walls” of coral in between the vegetation. The coral rocks are everywhere and I think they add a mystery to the small jungle. They tell the story of the geological
formation the island has undergone over hundreds, if not thousands of years. Some of the formations are like sculptures, others a little spooky as they stand there dark, grey and all alone. Or not so alone, as I did notice the remnants of a few campfires, not to mentions a few empty beer cans...
The rest of the photos are of a few things that caught my eye. The tree with CDs hanging from every branch and glittering in the sunlight (unfortunately this glittering effect doesn’t really show in the photo) is outside a house on the road near the airport. The beautiful orange and pink flowers of the tree add to the outburst of colour.
Then there was the very neat and tidy house near the beach. One the most well kept that I saw on Nauru. With the many seashells of all different shapes and sizes decorating the corners of the house and old tyres put to good use as plant pots providing protection and decoration. At least these tyres have not been burnt to fill the sky with black smoke or simply thrown into the sea or on the beach. There were other places round
the island where especially the massive tyres had been put to good use.
Next to the beach, well, where else on this small island, I also spotted a cemetery. With the ocean and waves in the background and the simple gravestones and flowers in front, it looked pretty peaceful to me.
Now, that I've written this and been reminded of my trip last year, I am looking forward to going back to Nauru again this year. Hopefully. I want to see if anything has changed and how life is going for the people there. As is usually the case in Nauru, things will probably not be simple but they will definitely be interesting.
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