Return to Honiara

On Sunday, I had to leave beautiful Fanalei Island and started my journey back to Honiara. I had the amazing opportunity to travel in a small boat along a wide stretch of the South Malaitan coastline and to fly in a tiny airplane overlooking large parts of Big Malaita and Guadalcanal.

The coast looked very different from what I expected – instead of white sandy beaches or mangroves, typical of tropical islands, I mainly saw old exposed reef platforms covered with trees. The nature of the coastline will present challenges to my satellite-based shoreline change analysis and I am very glad that I got the opportunity to see the place with my own eyes. Moreover, I am happy that I still have a week in the Solomon Islands before I will return to my desk in Southampton and will have to give this some more thought.

Coast of South Malaita

The flight back from Afio airstrip to Honiara was amazing. I generally love flying, but this particular flight was an adventure. I admire the pilots who fly the airplanes here. They really need to be able to fly! The airplane was so small that I could see what the pilots were doing in the cockpit. I would have watched them the whole flight if it had not been for the stunning views out of one of the little windows of the airplane: long-stetched sandy barrier islands protecting the coastline of Big Malaita, small reef islands surrounded by turquoise waters, Guadalcanal’s meandering rivers and big coconut plantages. I could have spent my whole day just flying around in the plane and exploring new stretches of this beautiful country. But unfortunately, we landed after 40 minutes – in the place that is probably my least favourite place in the Solomon Islands: hot and dusty Honiara.

Guadalcanal from above

It feels weird to be back in Honiara. I suddenly appreciate a lot of things more than I used to when I arrived here around two months ago, such as running water, electricity or the opportunity to buy fresh vegetables and fruits at the Central Market. On the other hand, I miss the tranquility of the island, its friendly people, and even the sound of the waves. South Malaita is absolutely beautiful – unfortunately, I cannot say the same about Honiara.

On a positive note, the capital of the Solomon Islands feels a lot more familiar now. In a way, Honiara is still more like a town than a city. Over the course of my visit, I have made some friends here and it’s really nice to be greeted with a “goodfala morning, Marie” in a place where I used to be a complete stranger just a couple of weeks ago.

I have one more week here, in which I plan to visit different government offices, meet the British High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands, help to hire a new staff member at ACoM for the new environment observatory, visit the Sikaiana migrant community and try to get some aerial photographs of South Malaiat. Busy days!

One thought on “Return to Honiara

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s