Posted by: nativeiowan | May 23, 2014

Gizo, Western province, Solomon Islands

I am back in Gizo. Last time I was here was Easter 2011. Been too long. What a great place to wake up! The day is overcast. Not much colour in the sky and sea. Muted is the word that comes to mind. Loads of weather around and it rained heaps yesterday. IMG_1127   I sit on my verandah high on the Gizo hill. I am being accosted by skeeters n sand flies.

I guess all the rain has been good for them little critters that sting n bite.

A young cat purrs around my ankles. Flocks of birds flash past my views, the wind is nonexistent, there is little sound. A chain saw in the distance. A car grinding its way up the hill. An OBM in the harbour. The incessant almost silent vibratory sound of the waves on the reef to the south. A plane just landed on Nusatupe.

Sooooo goooood to be in Gizo!

Yesterday: I loaded the car and left the house about 1215. Took about 10 minutes to get to Point Cruz. Took another 50 minutes to get to Henderson. When my daughter told me to allow an hour to get to the airport I thought she was joking.

Henderson is much the same. Much the same as it was in the 80s, and 90s, and into 2000. A few things have changed but not much. The toilets were “clean” by island standards. They searched my carry on bag before boarding but let me keep the knife on my belt. The pilots have all changed. I used to know the pilots, not any more. But the aircraft have not changed. I am very familiar with the aircraft. It was good to see an old friend.

We left on time and I dozed until outside of Munda. I had thought it’d be nice to look out the window and see if I could recognise the various landmarks I used to know so well. But the plexiglass window was faded and degraded to the point where you can’t see out of it. So dozing was 2nd best choice.

The flight to Munda was uneventful. Lots of weather, which is OK for me, but uneventful.

At Munda a 150kg iKiribati woman with a sick baby came and squeezed me into the corner.

They had been in hospital and were being sent to Honiara.

They had that sick, disinfectant hospital smell of slow death.

It was blazing hot. So for the 15 minutes in the T’wotter it took to get from Munda to Gizo; I was breathing through my nose, sweating bullets and trying not to lose my cookies.

Got to Gizo and raced out of the plane.Was so stomach-sick I didn’t  even want a beer.

One thing I always do when I hit Gizo is get down to the sea-side and have a good look and smell around the place. The Gizo harbour smell always has that mariner friendly mix of rotting high tide mark with the tang of salt air and the lingering, back of the throat, taste of outboard motor exhaust.

It was nice.

I was smiling ear to ear as I hopped on a boat owned by my buddy, Hans Mergozzi. Hans has a nice resort on Mbambanga Island.

San Bis is an honest 4 star resort.

Hans is a Swiss guy with high standards.

Whats he doing in the Solomons? Long story. One worth about half a dozen solbrews at his, over the water, bar.

Thats where I went to say g’day. Have a brew and wait for my son, Don, to come pick me up.

So Hans and I catch up on local gossip. It was well past dark, about 630pm when Don showed up. Rain squalls were racing over us. Don arrived soaked n cold. He went next to the wood fired pizza oven, and like a good islander, warmed up.

Coming across the water in the oily black darkness, the air rich with moisture, was a flash back in time. I have done this run so many times. Coming back from fishing or playing or drinking or working. Come past Kennedy island, into the slot next to Nusatupe, bear left and use the hospital as you guided through the slot in the reef there.  I am aware of hundreds of propellers that got dinged when I, or someone, got this feat of navigation wrong.

These days the guys use GPS. Saves heaps on propellers.

The seas almost dead flat. The sound of the last squall still audible to the south. The GPS casting a ghostly glow on Don as we snaked through the reefs.

Gizo was lit up like I’d never seen. A feast for the senses. A fairly land of imagination and mystery floating on the black, black sea.

The place looks like a happening and fun venue. Lots of lights. The big, new hospital. All the new houses on the hills. The water front. All cranking and making noise. A new big 2 story pub down on the old KHY corner. PT 109 looking worn but still lit up and open for bizzyness.

The smell of kitchen fires, potatoes roasting and boiling fish. The sour-sweet smell of the effluent rich mangroves which still serve as communal toilets for this bursting metropolis.

It was a sweet welcome home.

So, its about 10am. I should finish my coffee n wander down the road. Maybe take a small boat out for some scouting. See what activity I can find down by the Naru pass or maybe jump into the Vona Vona and check out the islands there. It really doesn’t matter.

The big, fancy boat is not being cooperative and only one engine is working…32pSo the plan of spending a few days on the water ain’t happening.

But that’s Ok. life is gooood

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