Posts Tagged With: gizo

Kolombangara

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The lady is sleeping

It was a bad week of immigration nightmares and a cancelled Shaggy concert.  Clearly, I needed to get away.  What better place than to Kolombangara?

 

Kolombangara is a volcanic island in Western Solomon Islands that last released a fiery furnace 10,000 years ago. Now it is home to Solomon Islands’ 2nd, 3rd, and 4th highest peaks (the highest peak in SI is Mt Popomanaseu in Guadalcanal at 2,335m – higher than Kosciusko). It is also known as the sleeping lady because, if you look closely and a little cross-eyed, the island resembles a sleeping woman.

Being volcanic, the island is able to grow lots of good stuff and has naturally become a popular site for forestry and logging. In 2008, the indigenous people of the island formed the Kolombangara Island Biodiversity Conservation Authority (KIBCA) and established rules to protect all wildlife and vegetation above 400m altitude. This makes it the largest conservation area in the country covering 19,400ha.

A month earlier, I had emailed KIBCA and was assured that all preparations were in place for our 3-day hike. On Friday, we arrived at the island, but no-one was there to meet us. So we asked the only person we saw: “KIBCA?” He responded by stretching out his arm, pointing in a random direction and saying “Up top.”  With only one other building that we could see, we headed in that direction until he stopped us:  “Not there. Up top.”

With that handy bit of advice we had no option but to head in the direction of his directionless pointing.  After 10 minutes of walking in the hot sun with 4 days’ worth of camping equipment and food on our backs, a car passed that we were able to flag down. We asked the driver where KIBCA was, and his response: “Up top.”  This was gonna be tough.

“Up top” turns out to be Ringgi town, about 2km from the “Marine base” where we started walking. The driver first took us to Ferguson, the coordinator of KIBCA who expressed that he was unaware of our booking. So then we sought out Mayson, the person I had been conversing with through email. Fortunately Mayson was aware of our booking, but had done nothing about it.

“So do you want a guide?”

“Um…yes…your rules say we have to have a guide. Remember, we asked for Moffat?”

“There are lots of guides”.  Turns out there aren’t. After a recent recruitment attempt the 12 potential guides all pulled out after trying to summit Mt Veve, vowing never to do it again. Moffat remains the only one crazy enough to scale Veve more than once.

“Moffat doesn’t have a phone. He may not be around”  In walks a lady with Moffat’s phone number. Moffat answers. He is around, and he’ll be here soon – just needs to paddle from his village.

“And a porter, please”

“Yes, yes, we’ll find you one”. Except that, like guides, there is no-one willing to do the climb more than once.  More on that later.

“Oh, and how do visitors normally get from the marine base to here?”

“The man at the marine base has a radio to tell us to pick you up.”  So you mean he isn’t meant to just point and say “up top”? Apparently not.

While waiting for Moffat, we took a walk through the one-horse town of Ringgi, before jumping in the truck and heading to Imbu Rano. Meaning “mist from Rano”, this beautiful and basic wooden ecolodge is set among the rainforest and has views to Mt Tepalamenggutu and Mt Rano, the island’s 2nd and 3rd highest peaks, respectively. Here we would spend the night before commencing our hike the next morning. At least that was the plan.

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View of Mt Rano and Mt Tepa from Imbu Rano lodge

After reaching the lodge, I thought it best to confirm Mayson’s other helpful advice.

“Just to confirm, you said there are sleeping huts along the way?”

“Yes, yes” says Mayson.  “No no” says Moffat, “They all broke down over a year ago.”

“Okay. Is there a tent here we can use?”

“Yes, yes” says Mayson. “No”, says Moffat. “I tried to use it two weeks ago and it was broken”.

“Never mind”, says Mayson. “The weather looks good, you won’t need one.”

“You definitely need one”, says Moffat.  After all, Kolombangara has its own weather system, where it rains more often than not.  Not to mention, it’s also wet season.

So we sent Mayson off with the task of finding a tent and a porter in time for a 7am departure.  In the meantime we waited, relaxed, slept, and storied about the (we hoped) upcoming adventure.

We waited beyond 7am the next morning. Finally, around 8am, Mayson arrived. Francis, a Malaitan employed by the logging company, had been roped into the role of porter at the last minute and, having never climbed the mountain before, clearly had no idea what he was in for. Sadly, we still had no tent, which threatened the entire trip.  Moffat quickly managed to pull together bits and pieces from several tents to form one vaguely functioning one.  By 9am we were off.

We started the walk at a cracking speed, I assume to make up the 2 hours already lost that morning. However, only 30 minutes in, our poor, reluctant porter admitted that he could no longer carry the bag. Quickly, we did a reshuffle and Manyoni shouldered the heaviest pack, while Francis was bestowed with the lightest. We continued on, and as we walked, my mind became wonderfully lost in the lush green rainforest and soft, mossy, decomposing ground that felt like we were walking on cushions.  We also came across one of Manyoni’s wantok: a rasta grasshopper!

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Bob Marley’s reincarnation

Those tranquil thoughts didn’t last long. Soon, we started climbing…up a mountain. Up a very, very steep mountain. Up. Mountain. Up. Mountain. Up. Up. Up. Mountain. Mountain. Mountain.

After 2 hours we made it to Camp 1, where we stopped to refill our water. Francis, the porter, was already lagging behind. Then I was handed the heavy bag, which I bore for the next two hours to Camp 2. By this stage, I was utterly exhausted. Not as exhausted as Francis, though, who was so behind that we all thought he had done a runner. After a light lunch of crackers and tuna, a refill of water, and some psychological counselling, I was almost prepared for 4 hours of hiking yet to come.

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Manyoni & Moffat among the fluffy trees

What I wasn’t prepared for was the change in terrain.  Where I had once felt like I was walking on cushions, I was now walking on a flying carpet. Everywhere we stepped, underneath was a big cavernous space (ie. a volcanic crater) overlayed with a thin network of roots, and leaf litter forming a false floor. Should you step anywhere without a solid root, you would fall into the crater.

As if that wasn’t enough, the “trail” (in inverted commas because we were pretty much just bush bashing) just seemed to get steeper and steeper. Steps were now leaps, requiring us to haul ourselves (and our packs) up using whatever exposed roots or branches we could find.

By mid-afternoon we had reached the summit of Mt Tepalamenggutu, the second highest peak in Kolombangara at 1,708m. In other words, we had just climbed over 1,330m. Here, we took in the amazing view of the crater, for we were among the lucky ones that had dry weather and no clouds.

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View into the crater from Tepa

However, we didn’t linger long, for we still had 2 hours to go until we reached our camp for the night. As everyone knows, what goes up must come down, so the ensuing 2 hours involved stupidly steep descents, sliding on our bums from root to root, holding ourselves up with nearby trees: like Tarzan but with much less finesse.

We finally reached Camp 3 at 6:15 pm, 9 hours after we had started. Suzanne and I collapsed, but with light fading fast, Moffat and Francis quickly set up the tents. Then they took off further down the hill to fetch water.

Each campsite along the route was carefully chosen for its close proximity to water. Walking along the rim of the crater meant that there were no streams or springs to take advantage of. So when Moffat and Francis returned an hour later, empty handed with “bad news, the pool is dry”, we knew we had a slight issue on our hands.  Despite the recent rain, this was the first time the pool had dried up since Moffat had started walking this route 10 years ago.

The good news for us was that Moffat is the Solomon Islands’ version of Bear Grylls. He immediately started looking for nearby bamboo stalks filled with fresh water.  Unfortunately, they were all dry too.  With not a drop of water in our possession, he did what any crazy, non-human robot who had just hiked 8 hours would do, and ventured back towards Camp 2. Three hours later, at 11pm he returned to camp carrying five 3-metre lengths of bamboo filled with water. How he had managed to carry that, in that terrain, in the dark, I will never know, but I will be eternally grateful.

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Filling the waterbottles with bamboo water…the next big thing in boutique water

The following morning we filled our bottles with whatever water remained, and headed off towards the summit of Mt Veve – Kolombangara’s highest peak. Being the first people to attempt the summit since November last year, the thicket had refilled any spare space and a new path had to be cut as we went. The steepness remained abhorrent and it took 2 hours to go a mere 1.5 kilometres.

As we reached the top, the pain was briefly forgotten as we celebrated our feat (despite trees blocking all views). Even poor Francis, the unknowing porter, seemed bolstered by his achievement.

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With the oldest woman, and first African, ever to summit Mt Veve

On the way back down, we made an executive decision to remain at Camp 3 that night, based on our inability to comprehend an additional 4 hour walk to the next campsite. To overcome the water issue, we would, instead, have to carry bamboo from the heights of Mt Veve to our campsite.  It was only then that I had a true appreciation of what Moffat had achieved the previous night. By the time we made it back to camp, after 3 hours carrying heavy bamboo, I was utterly spent and ready to cry.

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Carrying life-saving bamboo… down.. down.. down.. down

We spent the afternoon napping and cooking all the food in our possession to lighten the load home. Slightly revived, I was able to enjoy the crater’s silhouette in the evening’s sunset, and after dark, I was enraptured by the plethora of stars in the night sky. All of this was thanks to yet another unusually clear day on Kolombangara.

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Crater rim at sunset

We awoke before sunrise in an attempt to give us plenty of time to complete the hike’s third, and final, day. We filled up on bamboo water and made good time to the summit of Mt Tepa, and to Camp 2. It was only after departing Camp 2 that we experienced our first bit of serious rain, giving us a cooling shower while also adding an extra element of slipperiness, and danger. We persisted, and despite exhaustion, dehydration and blister-filled feet we arrived back at the lodge around 4pm.

We enjoyed our last evening surrounded by the rainforest, with our last views of Kolombangara. That night, the heavens opened and remained that way for the next two days.

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Out West – The calm after the storm

 

24th December, 2015 – Arrival at Matikuri

Nothing could dampen my excitement for the planned Christmas holidays to Solomon Islands’ Western Province – not even the fact that one of our pilots was asleep and the other was reading the flying manual during our 40-minute flight.

Suzanne, Tess, Jen, Manyoni and I touched down safely at Seghe airport and were met by Ben from Matikuri Eco Resort.  As he helped us carry our mountains of luggage to the awaiting boat, we could instantly see by the crystal clear water at the boat taxi rank that there was going to be plenty of good snorkelling and diving.

After setting ourselves up in our gorgeous private leaf hut bungalow on Morovo Lagoon, we wasted no time and joined a group to snorkel a wonderfully intact WWII bomber near Seghe airport.  Although the visibility wasn’t terrific, one could still dive down and check out all bits of the plane.

Western - it's 'da bomb (er)

Due to water shortages (El Nino) the day ended with a “bath” at one of the freshwater streams on a nearby island.

25th December – A Pacific Christmas

It seems that mosquito nets don’t stop everything – I woke up covered in fire ant bites!  Despite a spot of rain and persistent clouds, we took a fantastic morning snorkel to one of the many nearby islands where a very large fishing boat found its ultimate demise after hitting a coral wall.  The boat now stands perfectly vertical on its stern, making the snorkelling around the bow of the boat and the coral wall much like a Jackson Pollock of colourful sea life splashed against a deep blue ocean canvas.

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As the rain intensified, we spent the rest of the afternoon lounging at the lodge with a good book and some cards.

26th December, 2015 – Uepi

One of the first things you hear about when you get to Solomon Islands is Uepi Resort.  Rumour has it that Uepi has some of the best diving in the Solomon Islands….and a lot of sharks.  Since I don’t dive, we decided to head there for a day of snorkelling instead.

Sure enough, the snorkelling was fantastic.  Steep coral walls with huge schools of fish that I had never seen before – Damselfish, butterfly fish, parrot fish, goat fish, trevally, trigger fish, anemone fish, morish idols, leopard-spotted fish, puffer fish, surgeon fish, beche-de-mer, gorgonian corals, brain coral, other corals, as well as some huge bump-headed parrot fish –  all contrasting magnificently against the dark blue background.

Of course, where there are reef fish, there are reef sharks, and Uepi did not disappoint in this regard.  Within the first two minutes, I had a shark swimming nonchalantly past me.  As I headed closer to the sharks’ favourite spot, I sat there for about 5 minutes counting half a dozen magnificent black-tips heading straight for me to get a better look, before swimming away disappointed.  I did try to take a selfie with a shark for your viewing pleasure – unfortunately, they don’t do well at sitting still, and they definitely don’t smile.

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27th December, 2015 – A rainy day in Matikuri

Today the clouds of the past two days eventually dropped their particles and blessed us with a day of rain.  I suspect Bopo the cat exerted more energy throughout the day as part of its ongoing search for scratches than I did reading and sipping cups of tea.

A short break in the rain enabled me to drag the dugout canoe onto the water and paddle out to the next island, before returning to the lodge and spending an extended amount of time mesmerised by a sea cucumber expelling, what looked like, very sticky silly string from its anus, before sucking it back in.  Apparently it’s a thing, with the silly string called cuvierian tubules, and is a sign of feeling threatened.  Oops.

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That evening would be our last evening in Matikuri, and so we celebrated with a meal cooked by Ben’s wife, Jilly.  To add to my day of indolence, I gorged on fish curry, breaded fish balls, bok choy, green beans, roast curry pumpkin, kumara & papaya coconut milk bake, fresh pineapple and mango.  Like a well-fed baby, I fell soundly asleep to the sound of rain on the leaf roof.

28th December – Trip to Tetepare

We awoke early to embark on our next part of the holiday – a trip to Tetepare.  Tetepare is the largest uninhabited island in the South Pacific, covering 188 square kilometres, and is now a conservation site managed by the Tetepare Descendants’ Association.  Apparently, it is a great spot for dugong spotting and watching turtles nest and hatch, making it the most anticipated part of my holiday.

As we piled our bags and ourselves in the boat, our driver gave us a calm pre-departure briefing:  “It’s 25 knot winds and it will be rough over the channel, so hold on.  If it’s too bad, we’ll come back”.  Such words by a two-time OBM champion Solomon Islander, who has voluntarily donned a life jacket, are not good sign to begin a reputedly dangerous cross-channel voyage in a 40 horse-power OBM.  However, I had complete faith that Captain Mike Charlie would keep us safe.

Mike was not kidding.  The swell would have been at least 2m, we were heading straight into super-strong headwinds, and had the added bonus of being pelted by stinging, gusty rainy.  Mike did really well to try to buffer the swell, but there were several times where we caught ourselves on the face of a wave and almost capsized.

In addition, we were being thrown around so much that the weight of Manyoni and my butts continuously hitting the seat ended up cracking it (a secret karate move from way back).  All this was before we had even hit the channel! Mike had been navigating us close to the islands on the edge of Morovo lagoon so that we could bail if need be.  It suddenly became clear why Tetepare is uninhabited.

After about two hours of bouncing and battling waves (I was told that it usually takes 30 minutes to get to Tetepare island), and as I clutched tenuously to my broken seat, perhaps the most scared I have ever been in my life, a small pod of dolphins came up and swam beside us.  Immediately, Captain Mike yelled from behind, “Don’t panic” and started heading us toward a huge cliff with waves crashing against the rocks at its base.

I was really trying not to panic, but with image of being smashed against rocks at the forefront of my mind, the no-panicking thing became a little difficult.  As we were about to hit the base of the cliffs, Mike steered the boat through a small gap between the cliff and rocks, and into the most tranquil, calm, serene spot ever known to man.  Someone in our boat likened it to a journey into the bat cave.

As we pulled up to the beach, and jumped out to pee our pants in the calm, tropical water, Mike came up to me, full of unnecessary apologies, and explained his actions.  His tribe are the dolphins, and when he saw the dolphins swim alongside us – not playing – he knew that they came to keep us safe.  When the dolphins directed us to the gap, he followed them, knowing that it would be too dangerous to go against their advice.

Now, whether or not you believe in the ancestral connection between man and animal, all I know that Mike’s belief in his tribal heritage could well have saved our lives (unlike others that, I later heard, did perish in this storm), and that’s all I need to believe.

As we made our way back to Matikuri, via the calmer waters of Morovo lagoon, we looked back at the gap from which we came.  It had now closed over in the burgeoning swell, making it impenetrable.  If we had been 5 minutes later we would have been stuck between a life-threatening rock and a hard place – literally.

After the morning’s excitement, we were all content to spend the remainder of the rainy day reading our books, playing cards and staring with post-traumatic shock out into the lagoon.  Extreme weather warnings started drifting in on our phones from the National Disaster Management Office.  The joy of our now-safe and beautifully-located circumstance came flooding back as we spotted the odd sight of a black fin breaking the water below our deck, and a garfish leaping up and flipping around a couple of metres above the water.

29th December – A wet day in Matikuri

With the bad weather still hanging around, Manyoni spent the day doing what he does best – engaging all the lodge’s guests in a day of handicrafts!  The rain came and went throughout the day, enabling the odd snorkel out the front of the lodge.  With poor visibility there was little to see, but it was still nice to get wet.  As the poor weather continued, flights and boats were cancelled, leaving us to discover that we weren’t the only ones to be stranded in the Hapi Isles.

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30th December – A windy day in Matikuri

An overnight storm brought with it horizontal rain and cooling gales.  By morning, the rain had stopped but the strong, gusty wind remained.  This spelled the end of our hopes to get to Tetepare, with its dugongs and turtle hatchlings.  I will just have to plan a return trip…some time.

Due to our unanticipated, extended stay, we had to continually change rooms to make way for scheduled guests arriving.  In the end, though, I enjoyed sampling the unique views and feel of the different leaf bungalows, regardless of sinking decks.

The view from our second bungalow

The view from our first bungalow

31st December – An almost sunny day in Matikuri

Sun!  A little bit, at least.  Enough to make us think that a snorkelling expedition would be worthwhile.  Naturally, as soon as jumped in the boat, the rain started pelting down.

First stop was Bohero village, a place known for its traditional handicrafts.  We visited Aldio Pita, who dabbles in the craft of wood prints on home-made leaf paper; then we went to look at carvings of sago palm nuts; then to see the revived traditional war canoe.

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Our next stop was to Bambata – the calm, tranquil place where we had unsuspectingly found ourselves three days previously.  This time, we were here to view the sites rather than to escape near-death.  We unpacked a picnic lunch on the beach just as the rain returned, turning our crackers soggy and converting our salad bowl into salad soup, as we shivered non-stop while hermit crabs crawled across our bare feet.

Post-lunch we dived into the warm water of the lagoon and paddled across to the cliff on the other side.  Close to that fateful gap between the cliff and rocks was a deep underwater cave, with coral and a plethora of fish above.  Today’s new fish find consisted of a lethargic balloon fish that looks very dead among the coral, and eventually moved after prodding it several times.

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Back at the lodge, we spotted another shark fin from our deck, as well as a turtle and a pod of dolphins to usher in the new year.

The evening was spent in a largely civilised way, listening to Spanish guitar from one of the guests, accompanied by Manyoni on djembe drums and drunk Solomon Islanders on vocal.  It was fantastic.  The air was a surprising calm, and people were enjoying the entertainment so much that no-one even noticed when the clock struck midnight.  That was, until Suzanne and I started yelling it out, then it was hugs all around.  Seemingly on cue, a huge gust of wind swept through the lodge, knocking over chairs and plates, welcoming us to 2016.

1st January, 2016 – A sunny day in Matikuri

The day started with another teaser of sunshine, beckoning us into the water.  On cue, the rain started pelting down as soon as we left the lodge.  It didn’t dampen the enthusiasm, although after a brief return to the shipwreck, we decided to leave those choppy waters and head to a new island where the water was much calmer.

By now the rain had stopped and the fish and coral were excellent as always, with some new types of starfish (including four-legged ones that are more like cross-fish) and huge batfish to add to the sea life checklist.  The sun eventually returned and we saturated ourselves in its rays while beachcombing for exotic shells and strange seagrass fruits.

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The evening was spent gazing out at the water, watching luminescent dots rise to the surface and divide multiple times to form a line of light.  I still have no idea what it could have been, although google suggests a mating display of ostracods (“seed shrimp”).  Awesome.

For our second, last night at Matikuri, Jilly cooked us up a huge chilli feast that left me looking and feeling much like a lethargic Bopo the cat.

2nd January, 2016 – Trip to Gizo

We awoke at the crack of dawn, when the sea and wind is calmest, to make our second attempt out of Matikuri.  All was looking promising with a clear sky and glassy water.  This time our destination was Oravae cottages near Gizo – about a 5 hour boat ride away.

Captain Mike took us back through the lagoon and out the gap by the cliffs at Bambata where we had sought shelter from near death just five days before.  What a difference a few days makes!  The waves were a gentle bobbing size, lolling us to zen mode as we passed by striking huge cliffs of New Georgia island with the waves battering their underbelly.  We passed a giant pod of dolphins early on, wishing us a safe journey.

"The gap" on a calm day

“The gap” on a calm day

First stop was a research station near Ballewi village, where we got to use the much-needed amenities and take in the views from the top of the cliffs.  Then it was on to Munda town, where we refuelled.  From there, it was super smooth sailing through the glassy and picture-perfect turquoise waters of Roviana Lagoon.  What most amazed me were the number of little islands… everywhere… like forest-covered mushrooms sprouting out of a turquoise field.  Suddenly, 900+ islands in the country doesn’t seem so unbelievable.

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We tried looking for our accommodation on one of these islands, passing by Kennedy Island (where JFK sought refuge when his plane went down), and seeking directions from some old Aussie codgers living a sweet retirement life by running a bar on “Imagination Island”.  We had no luck in finding the island so, instead, we headed into Gizo, the capital of Western Province.  Within five minutes, Manyoni’s calm head managed to locate the owner of the Oravae cottages – our next destination.  We wished Captain Mike a safe return trip back to Matikuri, and let the next part of our journey begin!

Oravae cottages are located on Seppo Island, about 20 minutes boat ride from Gizo.  With the whole island to ourselves, accommodated in tree-top bungalows and a water-front house with private outdoor showers, it classes itself as a “rustic romantic” destination.  This may have meant it was Manyoni’s lucky week or his worst nightmare, given that he was the lone man among four independent Aussie chicks.  He seemed to manage just fine.

Oravae Cottages

Oravae Cottages

3rd – 6th January – Oravae Cottages

Over the next four days, we got into the habit of waking up in the early morning and gazing over the balcony to look at the 60-odd garfish congregating in the water below, trevally & small fish chasing each other in circles, smaller fish chasing even smaller groups of fish, clown fish checking out the scene from their anenomes, and to count the black-tip reef sharks gracefully swimming past (on the final morning, I counted 10!).

Then we would enjoy our delicious breakfast delivered to us, before jumping in the warm water for a snorkel.  With so many islands around, there were plenty of different places to snorkel.  Each place, and each snorkel, presented us with a few new sea creatures we hadn’t seen before, including a turtle, nudibranchs, starfish, lobsters, eels, strange slugs, and different types of fish.

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Then it was time to take a break, lounge in the hammock, read a book and drip dry while we waited for lunch to arrive.  Post-lunch, a snooze/3-hour sleep in the cool breeze was required to help the food digest, before launching ourselves back into the water by way of a rope-swing, half-inflated lilos or by paddling the dug-out canoe to a new snorkelling spot.

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By evening, we would return to the deck for a view of the sunset with cold beverage in hand, again counting the sharks that swam by.  Once the darkness arrived, we enjoyed a delicious dinner with Darcy the dog while listening attentively for the sound of a dugong breathing nearby or splashing around trying to unlodge themselves from the shallow waters.

Oravae sunset

Just before bed, we would spend some time playing cards / Pictionary, staring up at the cloud-less star-filled sky, or peering below into the water in search of dugongs or luminescent delights (such as ½ inch bug that left a 50cm trail of light behind it like a snake, which apparently was a signal that it was going to die).

This routine was only punctuated twice during our stay.

Once was a small trip to Gizo to check out the town – it didn’t take long. The town has one road that took us past the new prison, the new hospital and through the markets full of crabs claws and betel nut spit (Oh, how I didn’t miss that).  We then spent the rest of the time chilling at the yacht club watching Western Province’s version of peak-hour, as small boats came in from every direction carrying families headed to Gizo for work or shopping.

Gizo markets

The second time our routine changed was to be treated to an amazing evening of entertainment by local band “Two brothers, a cousin and a friend”.    Apart from Oravae being a private island, guests also have private entertainment.

This band is the amalgamation of two brothers from the next island, their cousin (ie. the son of the owners of Oravae), and a mate from another island.  They have never had a music lesson and made their own five-piece drum kit themselves out of plastic SolRais rice packets, wood, and scrap metal.  Plus, they are amazing.  Actually amazing.  Four young men, each with a unique, beautiful voice, harmonising and able to play every instrument.

For about 1.5 hours they treated us to covers ranging from old-school Bee-Gees and Creedence Clearwater, to more modern (and, I daresay, more beautiful) versions of Rhianna and Carly Rae Jepsen (I had to look that one up).  I couldn’t get enough!

Evening band

Finally, it was time for our holiday to come to an end.  To mark our stay, the conservationist owners asked us plant some coral, before driving us to the airport (spotting a turtle on our way).  Being far too early for true Solomon Islanders, we sweltered in the heat of the tarmac before making our way back to Honiara and the bright orange sunset of a polluted city.

Planting coral

Planting coral

Categories: Exploring | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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