Last Thoughts

Just wanted to bring up how much Debbie has changed over the years. So we sit down at a table to order dinner. Just as we sit Debbie starts brushing the top of her back as if a fly is buzzing around and tickling her. A second later a small gecko runs across her shoulder and down her arm and stops just below the elbow. She just sits and stares at it. Not freaking out at all. She didn’t want to hurt is so she just looked on. I reached over and brushed it away. It landed on the floor and scampered over to the wall and safety.

This is our 5th day at the Rekona Flourish and we have come to quite like it. I would rate this as a locals hotel but there is a good number of tourist guests here. When we first arrived and there was three dead bolts on each door Debbie had some misgivings. The place is spartan but super clean. It is basically exactly what you need and nothing more. We were assured by the lady running the place it was perfectly safe. We are a short walk from the main street and no more that a long walk from most of the attractions. Mavis, the owners’ daughter in law, gave us a ride to and from the beach yesterday for less than 1/2 the cost of a taxi would have been. This is not a 5 star resort but it does not isolate us from the country the way a resort would and I like that better. I would have to say the place would not be for everyone.

There appears to be no ‘new’ clothing stores. They all look to be second hand clothing stores. Everyone is wearing T shirts with odd, or unusual, sayings and logos on them for the islands. So picture this. We North Americans clean out our closets and give bag loads of little worn clothes to an company like Value Village (a for profit company) that sorts through the clothes, puts the high end stuff on the floor in their shops in Edmonton and crates the other stuff off. Someone out there buys all these crates and they end up in places like Honiara in used clothing shops that service the population here. It’s a whole country clothed on the cast offs from North America. That is why we are seeing guys wearing shirts that say “POG Master” and “Harley Father’s Day”.

The garbage here is, how do I say this politely, atrocious. It’s everywhere and most people here do not care enough to find a garbage can. I see a middle aged, well dressed, woman toss a bottle into the long grass. Bonegi Beach, where we were yesterday, has two huge piles of beer cans just off the beach. It saddens me to see this much garbage. There would have to be a major clean up and campaign to change things around here and I am not sure it will ever happen. Honiara will just disappear under the piles of rubbish.

Yesterday, at the beach, we meet a group of university aged fellows from the US. They are traveling on the Golden Bear, a naval academy training ship. Some are learning how to be engineers and work “below deck” in the engine room and some are “top deck” trainees learning how to be Third Mates, in order to eventually climb to Captain. We had a great visit with a couple of the guys and one suggested that if we stopped by the ship, we could get a tour.

So that is what we did this afternoon. A nice young man, named Parrott, toured us through the bridge, student quarters, classrooms, mess hall and then passed us to an engineer student who took us down to the engine room. The quarters ranged from one person one room for the Captain, First Mate and the Instructors to six to a room to 12 to a room for the first year students. Pretty cramped for a two month journey. Overall the ship was well laid out, with every spare corner filled with stores.

The ship’s journey started in California, on to Samoa, the Solomon Islands, then Saipan, Maui and back to California. All the learning and practicing takes place while they are at sea, and then they will pull into a port for shore leave for three days, giving the students at least two days of leave each. The students work shifts and through a rotation learning the necessary naval skills. 

We were impressed with the friendliness of all the students and crew that we met and walked away having enjoyed our tour.

Tomorrow we start our journey home to the prairies. It will take us a few days as we have planned a short stop in Honolulu again. See you on the other side.

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