Posted by: nativeiowan | April 25, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… Island Time

I have been spending a bit of time “in the isles” lately. Long stories as per why I am here so much, but suffice it to say that family n life n living, oft-times, takes one in unpredictable directions.

So it is Saturday mid-day. My neighbors are blasting some noisy tamure music over wasted speakers. I think one of the “boys” is cleaning the pool and enjoys the canned musak that is often considered traditional.

Have a baby in a bassinette on my table. Lets see… Just checked and Epiphany is semi awake. Eyes shifting to the external stimuli. Lets see how much longer she “sleeps”.

My hounds come and go. Noisily raising or lowering their masses. Often prompted by the gate being opened or a refrigerator door closing. They are somewhat fickle friends. Willing to leave my comfortable presence if any food source wandering too close.

By food source, I refer to a child. Most the kids are gone now but they are walking sources of delightful gobbles n licks for these hounds. One of the smart hounds, Iowa, manages to get into the house unnoticed an parks herself delicately under the table. She can remain unnoticed but well fed for long periods of time.

Ok… Epiphany starting to squak… So the baby was rescued by her mom. Moms are such great inventions.

In these isles things take a long time… the roads are pretty much a constant drama. There are soooo many cars on the roads. And take note: the roads have not really changed much in the past 20 years. Basically the old roads get rebuilt every so often, but no new roads, public planning systems, are being built.

Yesterday was funny… We have 2 “gals” who are the housekeepers for our family compound. It is not unusual for there to be only one family member in residence, so there are times the girls have very little to do. But when the hoard invades they are terribly taxed. They earn they keep daily by managing 4 or 5 separate kitchens, the pool n bbq area, the TV room plus 5 other “homes” each with bath n living area… all containing way too many kids.

So yesterday was pay-day. Years ago we got smart and started doing direct pay into employee’s accounts. Save us heaps of time and energy. So we thought until it became evident that no house keepers were going to show up yesterday/ Friday. We were told that on payday they need to go to the bank to get their money, and nowadays, with the big crowds and all, it takes them all day.

Everything in these isles takes way, way longer than planned.

I have been talking to some political types about business and where the nation is and when the administration is going re-learn the value of the rural sector. Let me pull some info from a paper I am sharing with the PM’s office…


  • The rural economy(s) of Solomon Islands have been allowed to wither over the past 40 years.
  • Prior to 1980, the economic engine of The Solomons was the rural economy(s)
  • A picture says a thousand words: UN database

Flow on:

  • It is obvious that the trend(s) as exemplified in this graph is directly associated with the loss of growth in the rural economy.
  • The loss of the rural economy comes from a number of contributors:
    • Past Government policy lead to the centralization of commercial services and activities
    • Centralization leads to the “best and the brightest” relocating to where the “bright lights” are
    • The focus on harvesting of resources further disenfranchised the rural sector by moving the need from low-scale and low-tech rural production to the importation of heavy machines and equipment.
    • “Industry” after the early 80s meant large-scale investment in heavy plant and equipment with trained operators.
    • This shift prompted a move in the skill-set of agrarian production to that of modern-world service providers such as truck drivers, chainsaw operators, and mechanics / technicians
  • The question, now, would be “How can we reignite the rural economic engines?”.

The point of this discussion is to decide if the SIG is anywhere near serious about the rural sector. I am optimistic due to some recent verbiage they have put out… And I have heard it from more than on source. So it may be time to look back, toward the rural sector.

Honiara basically sucks. Sadly Gizo is not a whole lot better. Its just easy to get onto the water at Gizo. Here in Honiara I am land-locked.

I see lots of money floating around. Still plenty of ex-pats in hugely expensive vehicles. Everyone I see has a phone to their ear… and not just a phone… everyone has a smart phone and lives connected.

Funny stat: and according to th WB … 25% of Solomon IsIanders have access to modern sanitation but almost 60% have access to mobile connectivity

My grandmother would comment, “ it’s all about your priorities”. And she is right. If running water and sanitation is more important than being on-line, well I guess the stats would be different.

But I am feeling uncharacteristically optimistic about this new government. Maybe, just maybe we shall soon see some positive decision-making.

From my discussions with people in the SIG I believe the work is being done and that a strong work ethic (as strong as it can be here) is exemplified by the “bosses”. There has been (always has been) rhetoric about corruption. But I hear that the rhetoric is heating up and the new Gov is both willing but actually targeting the corruption battle. Again, I am uncharacteristically optimistic.

Perhaps it’s early onset dumb-shititis? Or chronic romanticitis?

Perhaps the mix of long serving, self-servers is just right. Perhaps enough old age or, perhaps maturity has set in.

Time will tell.

Again, I am uncharacteristically optimistic.



  1. Thanks for the update, Mike. One can only hope for the best.


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