Perhaps what I will remember Tuvalu most for is the special meeting place that the country has designated for their nightly get-togethers. Every day, about two hours before sunset, hundreds of Tuvaluans, young and old, meet on the runway. Yes, the runway…at the airport. The international airport. Try and wrap your head around that because I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it for myself.
There are soccer matches, volleyball games, motorcycles, jogging, running, and mostly just casual meet ups and hang outs–up and down the 5,000 foot long runway at Funafuti International. No fences, no barriers, no signs, no guards, no security. The runway is just there–out in the open and inviting to anyone who wants to join in on this daily social gathering. Shoes and shirts not required.
One of the other bizarre things I noticed about this runway, is, besides not having any fencing, were the residential houses butted right up against the landing strip. House, runway, house. Just like that. Totally weird, but very cool; and normal for Tuvaluans, I suppose.