We have now been in Honiara for a little over 3 months. This is about the time when one starts to feel a bit homesick (okay, a lot homesick), but it is also the time that Honiara starts to feel more like home. This is a blog about what feeling at home in Honiara looks like.
Monday to Friday, I wake up, and hurriedly consume home-made granola. Then I do the 2km walk to work, dodging school kids, taxis dropping off school kids, packs of dogs, and crowds of men and women flooding the betel nut market in search of an early morning high.
At work, I spend half an hour trying to cool down and dry myself, before getting stuck into work. Lots of work. Work that is busy, stimulating, frustrating, exciting, and progressing slowly but surely.
At the end of the work day, I either walk the 2km back home, lamenting the rubbish-filled ocean that I walk past, gazing out at the ships and the out-of-place Russian billionaire’s yacht, and giggling at the “Education is my Rights….Now!” billboard that clearly demonstrates the need for grammar education in the country.
Otherwise, my evenings are spent something like this:
Monday are spent with a bunch of local ladies, getting our sweat on as we partake in Zumba – a fascinating blend of Islander moves danced to largely African music in what is traditionally a Columbian fitness program. Ah, yes, this highly entertaining pursuit allows me to let loose and boogie away in the carpark of the Ministry of Health while everyone stops to stare at the tall, really uncoordinated, white girl.
Wednesdays are far more tranquil, as I head off for free yoga on the waterfront. Okay, so being sucked dry by a plague of mosquitos as you hold a downward dog is not the highlight of waterfront yoga. Doing a Surya Namaskar, against the backdrop of a slowly setting sun, as the ocean gently laps at the boardwalk beneath you, is. Oh, and did I mention it’s free?
Fridays are the time to let all my efforts go to waste, as I join the expat contingent for a quiet Friday Night Drink at a rotating location with guaranteed ocean views.
Then it’s the weekend. This is the time that we get to throw caution to the wind and engage in some crazy activities, like laundry and grocery shopping! With the purchase of our new car, Bluey, we also get to spend weekends visiting our friends out of town, attending and holding dinner parties, embarking on some mad hikes (okay, so we’ve only done one), heading West for some balmy tropical water beach action, and giving driving lessons to Manyoni.
In between all of this is our home life. I hereby announce that Manyoni and I are now the (somewhat) proud parents of a pet pigeon named Itchy. Itchy doesn’t like people. Every time I shower him with motherly love – like bringing him fresh water, fresh fruit or bird seed – he flaps his wings wildly, flicking faeces and rotting fruit at me. I hope this is not an indication of what I can expect in real parenthood.
Time is also spent pottering in the garden. After our first attempt at a herb garden failed thanks to Honiara’s rampant Giant African Snail population, we have now replanted the seeds into pots and are launching a nightly non-violent offensive against the GAS intruders. Here’s hoping.
While this blog is largely about me, I just wanted to end with a small paragraph (or two) about my better half. I know everyone is wondering how he is settling in on his first big overseas adventure. Well, so far, he made 50 times more friends than me. He plays soccer every afternoon, either with one of the local teams or with the neighbourhood youth. He has been invited to jam with several local musicians (including my favourite musical brothers, Franco and Branco). He has been teaching jewellery-making at the International School, and has been requested to start such classes at one of the local, more disadvantaged schools. He is making and selling his own designs at Honiara’s local markets.
Plus, in his spare time he has taught a small group of boys how to make jewellery so that they could raise funds to join the local soccer competition. They are now a registered team. He also taught some women from the Mother’s Market how to make pizza and, a week later, their pizza won the prize for most innovative stall. These are just a couple of the ways that he’s effortlessly adapting to Honiara life, and humbly changing the lives of people in the process.