A Travellerspoint blog

The glass is half full

A regular dose of positive vs negative

sunny 30 °C

I have now been living in the Solomons for over 2 months and have managed a miserly 1 blog entry. As such, I have decided that lots of little ones is a better strategy for information dissemination.

Living in a tropical climate, in a developing country that has vastly different cultural and geographical settings to my own, comes with many wonderful new little insights and appreciations, as well as frequent frustrations and difficulties. I feel that it will be a healthy exercise for me to record these - one positive for each negative.

Today's positive is (drumroll please) Coconut Oil!
Pure extra virgin, certified organic coconut oil. Less than AU $10 for a 1.5 litre bottle (though if you're trying to find it in Australia you'll pay a truckload more than that). It is a potent, clear coloured oil that smells like real coconut. It is absolutely delicious in cooking pretty much anything. As a bonus it can assist with maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength.

And that's just if you use it for cooking. Last night my hair was feeling a bit dry and ratty, it's not coping with the climate. One tablespoon of coconut oil (from the very same bottle we cook with) through my hair and scalp at bedtime and my hair was loving life again this morning after my shower.

Today's negative - an issue that causes me much angst and grief is water
This specific water issue (because there are a million and one that I could rant about) is water pressure and supply. Friday (as with every other day for the last 4 weeks) there was no water at work. This means no toilet, no sink and no easily accessible toilet for the entire 8 or so hours. (I should note that this problem most probably impacts a lot more than just my building at any given time). Then after sweating it out on the netball court after work - don't forget we're in the tropics so I really mean SWEAT - I arrive home, jump in the shower and quickly begin to wash my hair. As the shampoo is nice and lathered up on my head, the water slows to a trickle and then a snails pace drip. Oh gee, how unusual. Don't despair Reagan, there will still be enough water in the pipes to the sink to rinse your hair out! So I wedge my rather large head into the tiny hand basin and try to salvage what water is left in the pipe before that too turns to a drip. With soap stinging my eyes, there is less water than I had hoped.

I try with all my might to hold back the frustration and accept that this is all part of the experience... but it's hot, I'm exhausted, I feel gross and I just want the damned water to work! I gulp back the tears, trying unsuccessfully to remain calm and not blow steam through my ears. Brendan, the very brave man, cautiously creaks open the bathroom door to offer a hug and soothing, rational words of wisdom.

We are living in a developing country. This is what we wanted right?

Posted by Reagank 26.06.2012 02:15 Archived in Solomon Islands Comments (0)

First Impressions

32 °C

Today marks two weeks since our arrival in Honiara. Who would have imagined that two weeks could be so traumatic? I've slept with the husband of one of my best friends, crawled in a panicked state through some tunnels in Sydney that I never knew existed yet all of a sudden am an expert in, my boyfriend was seen transporting barrels of formaldehyde (embalming agent) to a lake, we broke up after an unrelated incident in which he accused me of being unreasonably clingy, and then I went travelling in Europe where one of my fellow Solomon Island AYADs just happened to be staying at the same hostel and had some great travel tips.

Welcome to Lariam dreaming.

Malaria is a widespread problem in the Solomon Islands, particularly in rural areas. There are a number of preventative medications I was able to choose from. The most common choice is the widely used anti-biotic doxycyline which I had strong objections to taking, given that I'll be here for a year. The most affordable alternative is a once a week dose of Mefloquine, brand name Lariam. Vivid dreams and other psychological disturbances are common side-effects.

Meanwhile, my daytime (or awaketime) experience of the Solomon Islands has been much more positive. After paying the cringeworthy excess baggage fees, I alighted from the airconditioned plane with my 5am Canberra clothing layers on, greeted by the thick, sticky wall of hot humidity that is Honiara. We were also greeted by a jolly band of islander musicians who were rehearsing for the up and coming Pacific Arts Festival. With a nice big stamp on my passport giving me access until July, and a side-ways glance at my jar of Vegemite by the customs officer, I had officially made it into the country.

For our first few days in Honiara we were accommodated in a rest house with a view to die for. The beginning of our orientation included security briefings, familiarisation with the town (there are virtually no street names and no street lights at night), and meeting other in-country volunteers and expats. When we were taken to some houses that had rooms available for rent,

On Friday we departed by boat for Radifasu village on the island of Malaita. This was the first time that the village had accommodated a group of Araikwao (white people/ expats) and they were very welcoming and gracious. Our Pijin teacher Jono patiently guided us through hours upon hours of Pijin lessons, while the local ladies prepared us wonderful meals. In the afternoons we ventured to the river for suimsuim, accompanied by staka pikinini (lots of children). As we walk past them they are completely silent, then the second we are out of sight they errupt into fits of chatty giggling.

The final full day in the village incorporated a visit to the village school and clinic. Ben and Chris took over a classroom for some truly hilarious lessons on Australian animals (photos to come), and then in the late afternoon Callum became a Radifasu legend after a stellar round of sudden death soccer. Brendan and I practiced our Pijin with the spectating pikininis while they laughed relentlessly and practiced their English on us.

Since returning to Honiara last week we have moved into our cosy little apartment, attended our first Friday night drinks at IBS (Iron Bottom Sound), attempted a couple of runs, done some cooking, watched some Dexter and Game of Thrones, and I have started work.

In terms of expectations vs experience so far - I am looking forward to a great year in this diverse and interesting country. The people are truly kind and warm. I suppose I wasn't expecting to feel so white (though I admit that is quickly changing into a light brown), a white girl amongst a sea of delicious chocolate brown skin. I really didn't comprehend the notion that it would be this hot and humid every single day. It's like the one or two weekends every year that you get along the southeast coast of Australia when you don't want to move or leave the comfort of your airconditioning (except here you don't have the comfort of airconditioning).

Looking forward to all of you coming to visit for some snorkelling and trekking action!
Reags

Posted by Reagank 07.05.2012 21:28 Archived in Solomon Islands Comments (1)

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