Tuvalu is a special case when it comes to your personal expenses. All payments are in cash since you cannot use credit cards. I brought sufficient Australian Dollars with me. However, with the hotel being more than double the price of the guesthouse, it immediately changed my financial situation.
Fortunately the extra money I brought covered the extra expenses, but you can imagine my initial concerns. The daily routine was to first scan the bands for activity. But this was sometimes frustrating because it happened often that I could hear some stations but did not get a reply on my CQ calling. When operating was not possible, I used the time to sleep, exploring the island by motorbike, shopping, or visiting the internet cafe for mail, web site maintenance or making calls to the family. But the fact that I could not make QSO's was most frustrating as you can imagine.
I noticed that with my equipment being exposed to the very humid salty atmosphere on the island, things got rusty very quickly. In just 5 days, some of the hardware of the vertical became very rusty. Even the small screws on the K3 became rusty. During my stay, some engineers were fixing a new antenna and equipment for a new mobile GSM network.
During this task they had to dismantle an old Kathrein vertical GSM antenna from a 40m high tower which was just 5 years old. It was completely damaged by the harsh climate. Even the big satellite dishes will not last for more than 5 years.
On Monday 21st September I visited the Vaiaku Lagi Hotel to meet the handyman, Henry, to discuss the installation of my antenna. He collected a one meter long 2" steel pipe from his workshop which I could use for placing my R7+ vertical at the edge of the lagoon. He was also available for any help I might need.
The next day I packed all my gear and was ready to move to the hotel. I had arranged a taxi the day before to pick up my suitcase and box but he did not show up. So I took my trolley and drove on the motorbike to the hotel after which I started to search for a taxi. I drove around town for more than an hour and I finally ended up somewhere between houses after many people gave me directions and suggested to ask further on. Actually the driver was sleeping but his mother told him to get up.
I gave him instructions to pick up my gear from the guesthouse. About 40 minutes later he appeared at the hotel with the remainder of my stuff. I installed the R7+ again, but this time at the lagoon side, straight in front of my room. The steel pipe was placed in the water (at high tide) and the antenna fixed on top of it. Two guy wires kept the antenna in position. As soon as I had installed the radio, I started to operate. The new accommodation was a real pleasure and having internet 24 hrs a day was a good extra. The R7+ was in an excellent position with (at high tide) some 50cm above the water and with free take off to Europe, US and Japan. I enjoyed another two days with nice operating conditions but finally had to prepare for my departure.
My plane to Fiji was scheduled for Thursday, 24 September at 12:30PM so there was plenty of time in the morning to take down the antenna and pack all the equipment. At 10AM I had to check-in at the airport after which I could go back to the hotel and report back at the airport at around 12. It took only 1 minute walk from the hotel to the airport which is the shortest distance I have ever experienced!
When checking-in at the airport I was told that there was a delay and the plane had not left Fiji yet. But around 11:30AM we got the information that the flight was canceled. Here my room at the hotel proved to be a benefit as I was back at the hotel quickly and reclaimed my room. This was not a problem because without a plane, there are no new guests. Immediately I reinstalled the antenna and was on the air within 1.5 hours. Normally you would be disappointed if your flight is canceled but this time I welcomed such a cancelation!
The next morning I followed the same exercise as the day before and at 10AM I was at the airport again for the check-in. This time the flight was confirmed and my luggage was checked in without paying for excess luggage.
- Vaiaku Lagi Hotel Vaiaku Lagi Hotel
- Operating position Operating position
- ECO R7+ at the lagoon ECO R7+ at the lagoon
- Very comfortable operating position Very comfortable operating position
- The airport check-in and departure hall The airport check-in and departure hall