Posted by: nativeiowan | May 18, 2014

The riot tourism trek…

Ok, I feel a bit weird in that I can refer back, in both memory and photos, to what is now something like two decades of riot tourism.

Do you remember PJ O’Rourke”s Holidays in Hell book? I kind’a feel like that. Being a tourist to a riot… and it’s not the first time… Thats the sad part

I recall distinctly the Police Station stoned to tinder after a soccer match between Malaita and Ren-Bel. I am thinking that was 1994. It was a saturday and I’d been golfing. As I came home about 5pm the rioters cleared a path so I could drive through. I love polite rioters.

Was it about 96/ 97 when the market was trashed by someone writing swear words in Malaitan at the Market?

Golly, was it the late 80s when the prisoners broke out n ran through town smashing windows and getting drunk?

I had family visiting from overseas in December 98 when the first shots were fired. We were being tourists and hanging around the main market when shots were fired and crowed rushed in the direction of the firing. My brother was a lifer- army officer and was shocked, dismayed and instinctively ran the other direction. My mother, ever the super-mom, and like a fine island matron, started off with the crowds to see what was happening.

And from there on… like a bad habit one can’t break: Something happens; a sporting event, a concert, an election, a natural disaster… and we riot.

Not a good habit. Worse than biting your nails or even farting public.

But as I do this day’s riot tourism trek I see business as usual for a slow Sunday in the big Mango. Little evidence of the riots can be seen but for the gutted store fronts at the KGVI corner…

Mendana Ave, Pt Cruz:


Central Market:


Heading over the Mataniko:






Down prince Philip Highway:IMG_1110

KGVI corner, burnt out shops on the left:IMG_1112


Funny one… last night my 30 yr old daughter went out. I was a bit concerned but who can tell children, let alone 30 yr olds, what to do. I stayed up late to hear her come home. And it was late. Well after midnight. I spoke to her this morn and asked if she was at all concerned. Her reply made perfect Island Sense… “It was raining so there would be no trouble. Rioters won’t go out in the rain”.

Sad buy funny.

And strangely life is good. Confused. Fudged up. Unpredictable, but good.

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