After arriving back in Munda, I quickly set about figuring out what I was going to do. Firstly, I needed to top up my phone, then I rang the travel company I booked my Zela Nightmare with. Without any hesitation, I was offered a full refund, I was grateful as this meant by funds would not be affected. Instead of staying at Agnes, I decided to stay at a budget accommodation behind. For SBD$200, or £20 I got a single room, a shared bathroom, kitchen facilities and a common area. The rooms are larger, cleaner and cooler than Agnes Lodge. And as I am the only guest, the shared bathroom is no issue!
I went over to Agnes for lunch and a read of my book. Every staff member I saw who knew I was leaving kept asking why I was back. I repeated the story many times, each time the staff member would exclaim how bad the lodge was. One member of staff I was speaking to said if he realised I was going to Zela he would have stopped me. I was determined to enjoy my unexpected few days in Munda.
David Henderson’s dad had emailed me a week or 2 ago, and told me no matter what, I should enjoy my trip. With these words in my head, I decided I would take time to go on a few organised trips Agnes Lodge put on. I knew they would be expensive, but I was saving money on my accommodation, and I had put some money aside for trips whilst staying at Zela. I was asking for prices when “the boss” said I could jump on his boat as they were heading to an island they owned for the afternoon. I asked how much for, he said free! I quickly agreed, needed a few hours on a white sand beach and a swim in the sea.
The island was lovely, so peaceful and relaxing. There was another lodge guest on the island for the day and “the boss” and the “boys” were on the other side of the island having a BBQ and a few beers. I enjoyed my few hours of tranquillity, before heading back to Munda.
Today was a day of culture, beaches and resort lunches. I decided to treat myself to an excursion – a trip to Skull Island, a snorkel and a lunch at Lola Island. On the trip I met 3 lovely ladies from Australia – who just so happened to be staying in my next accommodation in Noro. They were aid workers, working with SolTuna and the community education women about feminine hygiene, they were not afraid to speak about unusual topics.
Before the traders came into the Solomon Islands at the end of the 19th Century, the island communities would have people called “head-hunters”. These head-hunters would travel across to other provinces, kill the warriors and take the young girls for wives. This tradition stopped in the early 20th Century – not actually that long ago! Around the whole of the Solomon Islands, there are small islands which have been dedicated as shrines to the Gods. On these islands they would bring the heads of the warriors they had killed – they chopped their heads off after death. But they also had the heads of the chiefs. The chiefs would be brought to the island when they knew it was time for them to pass, their body would be allowed to rot, before their skull was taken, washed and then places in a “house” on the island. There were lots of skulls on the island, it was a very humble experience.
After we went for a snorkel – I didn’t get to see any turtles, but I saw hundreds of starfish. The coral in some places has already started to bleach. Lunch was a lovely affair, we went to a resort owned by 2 Australians, the place was lovely, and I wished I could have stayed a night! When we got their they were preparing fish for that night’s dinner – there were 40+ reef sharks waiting for the scraps to feed on.
After gaining access to the internet, I was able to investigate some documents and articles which I could only access online. The day was overcast and there was the odd downpour of rain – a perfect day to sit and study the Solomon Island policies.
In the afternoon, I decided to walk to the local museum, someone on Facebook had said it was the best WW2 museum he had ever been in. I decided I had to check it out. To say it was a museum was a bit of an overstatement, but it was amazing to say the least. The museum owner Billy had collected thousands of items from the war – both Japanese and America. He had dog tags, water bottles, grenades, guns, parts of aeroplanes, and the list goes on! He was very knowledgeable about the war and you could tell he was a real enthusiast.
Tomorrow I head to Noro, a small industrial town about 45 minutes north of Munda.