12 Oct Solomon Islands Adventure (Part 2)
After 5 days on Guadalcanal we moved to Savo Island.
The morning of Saturday 26 August 2017, we set out from this location in Honiara (see photo below) on the one hour boat ride. Our trip was made in a similar fibreglass boat to these, as are most of the short trips to nearby islands.
Our “Savo” destination was Soghoka village on the east side of the island, where we experienced a warm welcome.
One must have approval to come ashore on tribal land and this “warriors’ welcome” was our official approval to visit the village. Of course there was much more to being welcomed into the village.
Lunch had been prepared for us and a welcome speech was made by the chief, Joel and Beva.
It became obvious that having “white” visitors was not common and something of significance and interest to these villagers, plus their neighbours. There were several vantage points from which to observe the proceedings.
Chief Joel and Beva kindly offered to share their house with us during our 2-night stay. This all came about because of Kristy’s friendship with Beva and her daughter in-law Gladys.
The ground was very dry and dusty. Apparently it hadn’t rained on Savo for 6 months. But it poured for several hours that Sunday night. By morning most of the rain had soaked in.
The villagers on Savo are fervently religious. On Sunday morning this church was fully occupied by people from several villages. Joel (village chief) played guitar and led the singing, supported by lots of enthusiastic voices providing the alto, tenor and bass parts.
There’s obvious soil erosion along Savo Island’s east coast. Two of three US WWII heavy gun emplacements on Savo are affected.
The one as yet unaffected may not be for much longer.
While the villagers do grow vegetables up on the maintain side (about a 2 hour walk) most of our food and water for the weekend was purchased in Honiara and prepared on Savo Island by Beva, with help from Glenson.
Having collected the coconut water in a bowl Glenson scraped the white flesh from the shell into the same bowl.
The contents of the bowl was mixed, then the shaved flesh squeezed dry and removed. The result, fresh coconut milk for flavouring the evening meal.
There are 12 communities on Savo Island, each made up of between 5 to 7 villages (so 60 to 84 villages in total). Each community has at least one primary and a secondary school, plus at least one church. Soghoka Village (where we stayed) provides one of the primary schools for its community. Their community’s high school is in another village.
There is no electricity on Savo Island, so cooked meals are prepared on small gas stoves, LED lighting powered (only when essential) by batteries or generator, phone charging by small solar panels (yes mobile phones are commonly used in “the Solomons”) and hot water provided by nature.
Each village has its own “hot water well” as Savo is a volcanic island with hot ground water. It’s not suitable for drinking, but is wonderful for washing and showering – just draw water from well, then pour it over your head.
With no lighting our farewell on Sunday evening was staged in the dark (except when my flash fired). The girls danced to music from a battery-powered “boom box”, then Kristy joined in…
Then the boys got involved…
Followed by a photo call for the dancers…
And a farewell speech by Joel, supported by others.
This was something special. The kindness, hospitality and friendship shown to us by all the people of Soghoka Village was amazing. And the effort made to entertain, engage and show us their heritage was extraordinary. So extra thanks must go to chief Joel, Beva and Glenson.
We had such a variety of experiences and learnt so much. It was a unique adventure.
A big thank you also to Kristy, whose work with UN Women in the Solomon Islands is outstanding.
Our next episode will take us to Cartagena, Spain where we rejoin our Voyage to Antiquity.