Honiara. Solomon Islands. It’s hot here. Boy, it’s hot! The heat hits me in the face as soon as I step out of the airplane and onto the tarmac. It’s intense.
The drive into town from the airport reminds me of India, or the Andaman Islands. Garbage, standing water, street market stalls, too much traffic, dusty roads. First Impressions, I am not so sure about Honiara and its surroundings.
Our driver finds our lodgings, the Rekona Flourish Lodge, a guest house by definition. It is simple, plain but has a very nice lady greeting us. I am still not completely sold yet. Maybe I am just too hot.
We shed our travel clothes for shorts and shirts, find our hats, hide our valuables, ask a whole lot of questions and off we go for a quick explore to find Coke, ideas for supper and to scope out the town. We had been warned that Honiara is unsafe, but the Bilikiki cruise staff said no worries and the lady here says no worries, so we are not worried. Off we go. We wander down the main street with no issues at all. We definitely stand out with our wide brimmed hats and white skin. I look around and notice right away how the women carry their purses or bags – around their necks or across their bodies with the again front. I quickly change my little pack to across my body hanging in front. Just like a local now!
There is velvety red betel nut juice splattering the sidewalks and pavement with every step we take. Many many men walking by have red mouths. Vendors are not allowed to sell it on the street, so they sit just off the roads, in a hut or stall, plying their trade. I wonder how much the betel nut affects productivity here.
The roads are in poor condition. Gravel and pavement create dust with every passing vehicle. There is road construction between the airport and the center of town. Large crews with half the crew working diligently and half seemingly supervising. It’s the same all around the world, even in Canada. Murray spots a fellow with a small trowel grouting between precast concrete block pieces to lay in the hole in the road.
Murray and I seem to be the only tourists out there. We run into one other white person on our walk. They are probably all hiding in the three or four luxury type hotel complexes afraid to step out of their resort. Right about now, I could go for a dip in the pool that they most likely have.
We have already noticed how friendly the people of the Solomon Islands are. They are rather shy also. Maybe it is because we are forcing them to use their English. We chatted with a guy from PNG (Puapa New Guinea) on the road in front of our lodge. Was impressed we came all the way from Canada and agreed with us it was very hot, as he is from the highlands of PNG. Meeting people such as the folks we have met In Fiji and here are what makes a trip so interesting.
I am now fed and am cooling off. My attitude is changing about Honiara and, although it is rougher than the places we have been to lately, it’s okay in my books.
Tomorrow we have some time to explore the area further and then onto our liveaboard for more luxury.