Thursday, September 03, 2009

Day 102 - The Pieces are Locking into Place

(Update from Nicole)

It's been a very busy day here in Tarawa, and I'm going to keep this
short because I'm absolutely beat and I know that it will probably
take at least 10 minutes just to upload this blog. The Internet
connection here has been…well…let's just say a challenge. Everywhere
we go on the island, we whip out the laptops hoping to snag a signal,
even for just a few moments, but with the exception of a couple of
hours this afternoon, we've largely been unsuccessful. Believe me, the
irony isn't lost on us that Roz is at sea and has marginally better
connectivity than we do on dry land!

In short, we have accomplished a lot, but there remains much to be
done. Tarawa is a place where you have to know people to get anything
accomplished…and we're getting there. Here's how it works: we meet one
person, who will introduce us to someone else who works for the person
that is exactly the person we need to know to accomplish X. This all
happens on Tarawa time, which FYI is even slower than what we've all
come to know as "island time." The good news is that we've been
getting really lucky. We're meeting exactly the right people that can
make miracles happen, and our new friends are bending over backwards
to help us – we are so fortunate.

Today we had lunch with a wonderful Australian gent named David. He is
the Attorney General of Kiribati and has been tremendously helpful.
His wife is the Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, and she
essentially made it possible for all of us to enter the country and
has also fast-tracked the necessary approvals for Roz's arrival. She
reports directly to the President, so now we know that we're legal!
David also invited us to sit in his air-conditioned office and avail
ourselves of the very best Internet connection on the atoll, so for a
few sweet hours this afternoon, we were able to get much-needed work
done online.

Another big thank you to our Kiwi friend, John who gave up an entire
day guiding us around the island and making important introductions.
He helped us secure the assistance of the merchant marines – they have
generously agreed to help us extract Roz's boat from the water and
provide safe storage for us during the months between Stage 2 and 3.
Roz's boat weights about 1200 pounds and has a custom-built trailer,
which we couldn't transport to Tarawa. We'll have to put something
together here before we can take it out of the water, and the merchant
marines are helping us assemble a crew to custom build a "cradle" for
Roz's boat – something that will be absolutely necessary for storing
it safely.

The other very important piece of this puzzle is a safe landing area.
We've consulted a number of on-island experts about the exact approach
Roz needs to make to arrive here safely. It won't be easy – there are
tricky currents and shallow waters with boat-busting reefs that she'll
need to navigate, so my top priority remains lining up an escort boat
in the next couple of days that can safely guide her in. The boat
needs to be able to go at least 20 miles out to sea (just in case) and
finding an able vessel on Tarawa is proving to be a challenge. I have
a good feeling that today this piece of the puzzle will lock into
place. Cross your fingers for us!

There seems to have been quite a bit of hubbub the past few days about
the timing of things on Tarawa so I feel it's necessary to make
something absolutely clear: asking Roz to slow down was MISSION
CRITICAL. It is not for party planning or PR purposes. When Roz made
the call the call that Tarawa was the destination, we had less than 24
hours to move. We are in a third world country right now, and while
the people here are incredibly warm, generous and accommodating,
making the necessary preparations for Roz takes time. She can't just
show up. If she did, she'd be putting herself and her boat in very
real danger. Roz has plenty of food and water, and is not at all in
harm's way by slowing down a bit to allow us time to make the
absolutely necessary arrangements. I should also point out that since
she's changed course for Tarawa, she's logging record mileage, so
she's not actually slowing down at all. Please know that this Team has
nothing but Roz's safety and best interests at heart. I would hope
you'd also have some faith in your heroine – over the past few months,
you've gotten to know her through her soul-bearing blogs. Do you
really think she'd do something doesn't want to do? There are a lot of
moving pieces here, so I just ask that you be respectful of the
process and the people that are working hard to make this happen.

Speaking of the team, many of you have been asking how we're holding
up. We're okay, but definitely dealing with a few little health
issues. Today I woke up feeling lousy with a bad headache, a terribly
sore throat and blocked nose. Hunter managed to get conjunctivitis,
which is really unpleasant. We managed to track down the US Navy
doctor who is here through Saturday on a special project and he gave
Hunter the medicated drops he needs to fight this off. I'm hoping my
little bug buggers off soon too!

Well, that's it for now. Roz and I will now be speaking every day at
10 am on our satphones. From now until she arrives, Roz and I will
alternate days on the blog, so you can be kept up to date on both the
land and sea parts of this grand adventure. Thanks all for your
continued support and best wishes!


[photo: amazing sunset captured on the lagoon side of Tarawa]