I have to admit, the Western Province – the largest of the provinces of the Solomon Islands – is rather stunning. Beautiful tropical islands, turquoise water, excellent diving and snorkelling, amazing coral reefs, WW2 wrecks and head-hunting shrines that remind us how rich in culture and traditions this area still is.
We did a bit of island hopping in the last week. From Lola Island, we navigated through Vona Vona Lagoon to Gizo and then to Liapari, where Noel and Rosie welcome yachts in a beautiful well protected lagoon next to their private island. They have a shipyard and other facilities and we had to pick up a parcel we had delivered there. It’s a quiet and peaceful place with a friendly atmosphere. And … they grow mushrooms! One of my favourite vegetables … which we haven’t seen for ages. Every day Pauline would paddle over to our boat in her canoe, from a nearby village across the lagoon, with fruit and vegetables to trade, including the most delicious fresh mushrooms. Yum.
Sunday is ‘Fun Day’ on Rehua and Noel decided to treat the boys to a ride on his jet-ski in the morning. They loved it. Later on, we went for a dinghy ride on the estuary that connects the lagoon with the other side of the reef. We anchored the dingy and jumped in. The crystal clear water that runs through it was so refreshing and lovely to swim in. We couldn’t get enough of it. In the afternoon, we were invited to a BBQ on the beach, courtesy of Gizo hotel who had come over to Liapari for the afternoon with some of their staff and brought fresh lobsters for everyone. Delicious!
Next it is back to Munda (and nearby Noro) where we will provision, get diesel, LP gas and clear out… So yes, our time in the Solomons is coming to an end. I’ve really started to like the place. It’s not like anywhere else we’ve been before and sometimes it’s hard to believe that societies like this still exist. People lead a basic life: they live in traditional villages, catch fish in the lagoon and grow fruit and vegetables in their gardens. Their canoe is their main form of transport, they live in huts built from coconut leaves and local wood. It’s a simple life but they seem happy. Perhaps we can still learn something from these people rather than trying to ‘help’ them or force our western standards upon them…