Living in the Solomon Islands: Acclimating to the Most Beautiful Place in the World
Here in the Solomon Islands, World Cup fever was fierce, with almost every person you met passionately supporting a team. Each morning that a match was being played, people gathered together around the one television in the street, set up under tarpaulins that had been strung up in the garden to watch the action.
From my house I heard the sound of cheers wafting through the valley as a team scored a goal, along with groans of disappointment when things didn’t go according to plan. Definitely one thing that I learned in the first few weeks of being here is that Solomon Islanders love their soccer. The mini-buses, which serve as the main form of transport, had flags of the team that the driver supported hanging from the car aerials. And I was a little baffled as to how they managed to find a Honduras flag here in the South Pacific.
So you may be wondering where in the world I am talking about.
People have been asking me, “You are moving to where?” with confused looks on their faces when I found out that I was going to be living in the Solomon Islands.
This small island nation in the South Pacific, below Papua New Guinea and next to Vanuatu, is my home for the next seven months.
A stunning and relatively untouched island chain, the Solomon Islands are still very much off the beaten track, mostly because there is no beaten tourist path.
A friend told me that where I was going sounded very “Robinson Crusoe,” and although I am living in a modern house with the luxury of hot water, many of the islands are so remote that I feel as though there is still so much left to discover here.
After traveling, studying and working abroad for the last few years, relocating my life to the Solomons wasn’t as stressful for me as it might have been for others, but it is my first time in the South Pacific. It’s all new to me.
And it’s an adventure that I am ready for.
Here, I am volunteering with the Australian Volunteers for International Development program, where skilled Australians can apply for volunteer assignments in a number of countries around the world.
This program is what brought me to the Solomon Islands, the place where island time is the only time, where people are friendly and fresh tropical fruit is in abundance.
Over the long Independence Day weekend, I went for a trip out to one of the nearby islands with some of my friends I have met since arriving.
Sitting on the white sandy beach, looking out across the crystal clear blue water at the sun setting over palm trees, it suddenly hit me. I live here.
My home is in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I am literally living the Pacific island dream.
Life here isn’t all beaches and tropical sunsets though. I am based in the capital city of Honiara, on the island of Guadalcanal, where things are quite crowded, dusty and hot, as currently it is the dry season.
Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis could occur at any time, and the country was hit by devastating flooding earlier this year that left thousands homeless and many people lost their lives.
So far I am still taking everything in, all of the hairstyles, the language, the culture and the small things I notice each day on the street.
Taking advantage of the slower pace of life, of the fresh coconuts to drink every day at lunch and marveling at the intricate traditional wood carvings that are for sale.
I have had a week of classes in Pijin, the local language, and I am bumbling along each day, attempting to speak it. I think my success rate is quite high, as I don’t care if I sound silly or not, and I just try to talk with everyone I meet.
My adventure here has only just begun. I am prepared for the realities that come with living and working in a developing country, but so far I am taking each day as it comes. I also remind myself daily that I am so lucky to be able to experience a part of the world where few people go.
Mi hapi tumas fo mitim iufella! I am so happy to meet you all, and to keep writing about my experiences while living in the Solomon Islands.