Published: November 25, 2017
Fanua lies just far enough off the coast that you can't see it from Atano. It's said that when you drive out in a boat, the island rises at the horizon exactly when you cross the original town border. I doubt anyone can spot exactly where the old border lies in the murky water.
It is also known as "the fairy island", and in local folk lore it's home to strange creatures and forces not of this world.
It is said that from the belfry of the old church Fanua was in sight. And it is said that the day the church tower was completed was the day the ground started sinking in. They say that at low tide the tip of the tower is just below the water surface and you can see the ripples it causes. They also say that it has been like that for as long as anyone can remember, even though the ground below Atano has continued sinking lower and keeps sinking to this day.
They say that from the top floors of the Sadina Tower the island should be visible, but isn't. I'm sure no one who says that has ever been in the lobby of the Sadina Tower. I certainly have not been on the top floors.
Katarina's cliff, northeast of Atano, is farther away from Fanua but it rises above Atano. So you can see farther from there. When a tall man stands on his toes at the very edge of the cliff — so goes the lore — he has as good a chance to catch a glimpse of the fairy island as he has of losing his balance. And that — they say — is the best chance you get of seeing the fairy island from land.
According to the legend, the Katarina who became the place's namesake fell off the cliff in her desperate attempts to catch a glimpse of the island. Another version of the tale goes that after much stretching, tiptoeing, and jumping up in the air as high as she might she concluded that she could never catch sight of the island — unless she would jump both, up and forward, from the edge of the cliff. And so she did.
In some versions of the story Katarina once saw a tiny speck of the island, and since then she was overcome by the desire to see more of it. Some say that the fairies drove her mad in revenge for her looking at their island. Others say that they were so impressed by her dedication that they carried her away with them, but they had to drop her when she opened her eyes before they reached the island.
Remarkably, all of this lore completely ignores that there are people living on Fanua who may have something to say about it. When you ask about that in the right company at the right time on a gloomy evening, one of the older townspeople may inform you that the real island Fanua that you can reach by boat and that people have settled on is a different place from the fairy island that can almost be seen from land.
There probably is more truth to that than you'd think. Most likely the fairy island of lore is not Fanua itself but a distorted reflection of Fanua that under rare atmospheric conditions can be seen near the horizon. One thing I can tell for sure is that from Fanua you can't see the top of the Sadina Tower. Claims that geometrically you should I leave for more apt mathematicians to investigate.