And it is pretty cool. Amazingly cool!
I was recently hanging at Joe Entrikan’s place; Zipolohabu Resort, on Lola Island. Joe had SiriusXM streaming Jimmy Buffet. When I drive in the states I plug-in SiriusXM. I enjoyed last year driving for days listening to the Dead, uninterrupted. I was impressed with Lola n Joe.
I am analyzing, perhaps too hard, my infection with these glorious, fucked-up islands. After all these miles, all these years n riots n troubles n births n confusion n fear, it’s still something special. In a very special, fuck-up way.
But is the rest of the world different? As fudged up or, perhaps even worse in ways? Are not the over-stressed urban centres the least beautiful of any land? Squalor is never attractive.
And there is squalor here. Sadly, an urban squalor that perhaps has no cure. Consider, the children who were 4 or 5 during the coup, are now 20. What is their world? What is their reality?
There was a time when people could “go home” to their villages. But after 3 generations of urban existence, where is home?
I think about what my buddy, Gabby, said to me last week.
I use the concept of home and look at my own family. Where is “home” for us?
All my kids call the Solomons home. I feel they have made some tough choices and are walking the subsequent walk. I am inspired by the works they have effected. They are doing a great job running a diverse island business. They work hard, play a lot and can be proud of their achievements and plans.
I get a bit jealous when I see how much fun Gizo is…
The boat that didn’t start
The LC Alcol loading in the morning sun:
Don’s stable of big toys:
Honiara has a haze over it. Lots of smoke from cook fires is standard here. Funny weather today. I’d call it “squally weather”.Loads of white-caps on the water. Blustery type winds that blow n knock plants over. I just heard a gust blow up the valley. That rattle of palm fronds with tumbling plastic bits. The wind stirs the very fine dust from the town’s streets. The dust is of a coral base and has a “talcum powder” fine-ness. The haze we see is not benevolent.
This pad is up high above the dust of the town. The old Mbumburu house always had a fine coat of dust on everything. Not here. And my lungs are happier. This town is hard on one’s respiratory system.
I’m down by the pool. Connected to what my elderly mother calls the “InterWebs”. I am on-line through my mobile phone. I have done this entire trip with my Telekom Mobile Service as my only means to connect. Pretty cool. Considering that we are in a LDC.
When I was traveling in Korea a few years back I was shocked, amazed even by the speed of the connectivity. I am use to the Aussie system I use more than others. It’s usually quite good but systems can be interrupted. This place things are, slow, slow at best. But it works and it’s pretty cool how well it works.
More wind. I turn the plant that keeps falling. Maybe I’ll lean it into the wind a bit? But, like a small yacht, I fear the weight of the keel is insufficient for the total windage aloft.
A dragon-fly dances over the pool. I like the dainty, aerodynamically impossible movements.
Listening to some newer Bob Dylan I don’t know too well. One line I like… “I wear dark glasses to hide my eyes. They hold secrets I can’t disguise”.
Another line… “Zanzabar ShootingStar was riding in a sidecar”…. what song is that from?
The Ngela Islands are invisible. Savo a very faint outline.
It was good to chat with Joe. He arrived here 18 months before I. Few Expats any more can claim 35 years of life here. I guess we must be getting old.
Some of you may recall that Joe kept a logbook for fish caught from the bar at Lola. We pulled it out and stepped back in time. First entry was early 95. A picture of Joe made us smile. We were all soooo young once.
This land still hold magic, appeal, interest and awe. but, I must ask: What is the future here? Risks ever increase. The only real investors you get coming these days are looking for a killing. In and out quick with a big profit. There are few expats any more “investing in the long-term life style”. Living as a family and joining the golf club and sending the kids to Woodford, with a long-term plan.
I fear Honiara no longer is a “place”, but rather has become an accepted evil. Perhaps like Port Moresby or Nairobi, a place where you go only when they pay you the big bucks? And once you’ve done your contract and banked your roll you move on to brighter horizons?
I must comment that the real bright Solomon Islanders I know are immigrating to Aus and NZ. The engineers n doctors n nurses n teachers I know stay in Aus after they graduate and are highly valued by their employers. And they get to create wealth. They buy a modest home, a car or two. They take holidays “overseas”. Their kids get a good education and they sleep without the threat of riot or coup.
There are some die-hards though. My children have an interesting peer group. Their friends (mostly from Uni days) are the children of successful Honiara based family businesses. Their get-togethers are interesting: We have a Korean family, a Chinese family, a NZ/ Mala family, my yank/ lauru clan, a couple SI mix families, who all have chosen (the young ones) to be here. They work hard, are very smart and capable and are in many ways elbowing their old folks out of the commercial path.
For me I welcome the elbow. I’ve played the commercial game enough. I’d rather go play the role of embarrassing old man.
I know a couple of the families involved here. I know both the youngns and the old folk struggle with the transition. One young friend said to me once “I wish my dad could retire gracefully like you”.
But it’s the ROI which keeps people here, not just the life style. We have an interesting life style, a comfortable life style. But without the ROI it’d make no sense. And even after the ROI, spending your money anywhere but here is a bit of a difficulty. Who wants SBD?
I recently heard investing in the Solomons described as… “Spending 24 hours at the $500.00 table winning big. But when you go to cash your chips in the cashier won’t pay you out”. The point is – if you can’t cash your chips in, whats the point? Unless there is a second generation to keep the show rolling.
A lot is about ‘life style”. Most of these kids have had house keepers all their life. I know my kids have little skill in domestic tidiness. Perhaps they need to live here so they can have house keepers?
In Honiara the life-style is a bit confused and weird, at best. We live behind fences. Noting, that which is behind the fence is pretty comfortable. But we’re behind a fence. We have dogs n guards n house keepers et al. And it is nice but it is weird too.
The roads from here to town, and from town to about anywhere, are terrible. Getting around is a drama.
There is an “edge” here noting that if you get “caught-out” late at night by a random road block of ill purposed outlaws, as Yoda would say, “a happy ending there would be not”.
I mentioned the air quality of the town. Most vehicles belch plumes of black exhaust. I feel bad for the children breathing this lethal mixture of heavy hydrocarbons and a very fine particulate.
Red eye is endemic because of the dust. Rub your eye once in town and you get a visit from conjunctivitis. Asthma and chronic bronchitis are basically a way of life.
But life in the “islands” is different. Gizo is a good spot. As I am sure the other provincial stations remain “good places”.
Used, abused n trampled under foot, but still a good spot. As we all know, the further off the grid you go the more relaxed things get…
All is good