Sunday, 28 October 2007

The Pelican Experience (or travelling to Auki by fast boat)

Steve, Lara and I left Honiara on the morning of Friday October 26th, a few minutes early, even, on the Pelican express boat to Auki. Rob unfortunately had to stay in Honiara several hours longer to continue the seemingly impossible task of forwarding our only-just-cleared-by-customs shipment to Auki. One's job is difficult when you are told each time you front at the customs office that another form is required, and that it is only available in the bookshop next to the pharmacy (there are three bookshops, all next door to pharmacies...). If Rob was writing this, he would tell you that was only the beginning of the mission. Anyhow, the eventual conclusion to all this was successful, and he was able to catch a flight to Auki in the afternoon, with the news that the shipping would arrive on the following Tuesday. (We'll try to get Rob to write about the Solomons Shipping Saga one day!)

We other three, however, had our own adventure to undertake. Our Pijin language teacher, Jonathan, is a Malaitan, and decided to coincide his trip home with our move. He is a tall, gentle, strong man; a self-employed builder with betelnut-stained teeth, a slight underbite, a very sweet and slightly nervous sounding giggle, and a wardrobe that is apparently entirely navy blue. He kindly helped us with our heavy suitcases, and sneaked us into first-class, where he assured us we would be more comfortable. The air-conditioning, he told us, did not always work in economy, and the section was often crowded. The air-conditioning, we found, works extraordinarily well in first-class, to the point where I am convinced I had mild hypothermia (it took half an hour of sitting on top of the boat in the sun for me to start shivering again, and for my toenails to turn pink).

I thought I was being clever in grabbing the window seat in our row of four, but the window seat receives the lion's share of the glacial blasts from that wretched air-conditioner. Lara, as we mentioned in the previous post, is easily chilled at the best of times, and she was in the next-coldest seat. Steve, next to her, was only mildly chilly in shorts and a light shirt. At the time, he couldn't understand why I had his jacket wrapped around my head, insisted he was fine, and kept laughing at me. The boat and the air-con was too loud for me to explain that the sudden cold had caused an almost-instant, quite spectacular headache, plus numb ears (I had visual images of an ear being accidentally bumped, and it shattering, a little like Terminator 2). The fairly obvious moral of the story is, when catching the express boat, don't sneak into first class, but if you must, avoid the window seat unless you have your thermals and beanie with you...unlikely on a sojourn in a tropical country, I imagine. The small consolation for me was the three dophins I saw leaping from the sea just out of Honiara. No one else saw them....can you get hallucinations with hypothermia?? Maybe that was it.

Stay tuned for more on Auki life..


A classic dugout canoe by the gorgeous Langalanga Lagoon on the west coast of Malaita.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Solomon Islands Taem (time)

Halo . . Hau nao?
Our first steps onto Solomon soil were not greeted by the wall of heat Rob was expecting but a gentle refreshing breeze. Amazingly (according to Jo, our country manager) the plane was early and so began our introduction.

Our first week has been filled with introductions: to other AVI members, the weather – heat, sunburn & a thunderstorm – local wild life in our rooms – rats, cockroach, rhino beetle and geckoes – and Kelly’s favourite. . . language lessons!! Much credit must go to Jono, our language teacher (from Malaita) for his patience, ready answers and constant smile.

Walking (wakabaot) around Honiara, local people walk or gather in groups, battered utes drive by fully (dangerously) laden with people, red betelnut splattered around the dusty ground, Westlife blaring from heavily barred shops and everywhere wafts the unique scent of the Solomon Islands! Lara feels at home, as most locals have bigger hair than she does (ah, the humidity)!!

Steve & Kel are pleased to see after their visit two years ago cleaner streets, well-kept greenery on median strips, completed footpaths and more shops open for business.

Rob totally endorses the Nutrimetics deodorant: “I’ve got the driest armpits in Honiara!” (thanks Sarah Wood!).

The fastest person to acclimatize to the heat has to be Lara who with the air con on low is wearing socks, thermal longs and Kathmandu jacket to bed under a sheet! Kelly fears that Lara has a thermal dysregulation problem..

We have been richly blessed and thankful for the amazing people who have made our first week so welcoming: from the AVI staff who have gone the extra mile for us, the judge who certified our marriage certificates without payment, an extremely warm welcome from the expats, to the houses that will be our homes for the rest of this time (a class above than what we lived in NZ). (P.T.L.)

Quote of the week:
In our first language lesson –
Steve: (about Rob) “Hem krangge” (Him crazy)
Rob: (about Steve) “Hem plonker” (No translation required!)

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

We're Here!!

Just a brief message to you all, saying that we're safe, hot & sweaty in Honiara.

Didn't get too much sleep last night (loud roosters & children, and then there's the heat!)

Lots of meetings today, and language lessons start this afternoon.

Gotta get back to a meeting, so we'll update again really soon.

Steve, Kel, Rob & Lara


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