After a quick breakfast and a phone call with my boyfriend. I ventured off to explore Gizo. The town itself is very small, and many visitors to the island normally come to dive, explore the WW2 relics or to volunteer. Unlike Honiara, there are very few expats, no coffee shop in sight, or a café for that matter!
I wonder along the main high street, passing local shops and businesses. I walk into WWF and make an appointment with them the following day. After being directed across the road to Ecological Solutions, I have a conversation with David Boesto about my research. Spurred on by this discussion, I walk to the end of the Gizo town to notice the different sea level walls, or lack of put into place. After wondering in 30+ degree heat for a few hours, I need a drink – queue not finding a coffee shop in Gizo!
As I said early, there are very few expats, or tourists for that matter – I have noticed 2 expats wondering around and am curious as to why they are here. I bump into them on my wonders around town and find out they are French volunteers on a neighbouring island and offered for me to visit some time in the near future – brilliant!
After this, I wonder into a local shop, grab a coke and some biscuits and start talking to the shop owner. More information regarding my research. After a quick lunch at 1 of 2 eateries in the Gizo, I wonder into the dive shop. It is run by 2 expats, who have lived in Gizo for over 30 years. The owner is hugely knowledgeable, and I have a long conversation with her about my research, Solomon Islands and Honiara.
I head back to the hotel, sweaty, sticky and needed to write up all my information from today.
Today I woke up eager to head to the WWF office in Gizo to talk to Zelda about climate change in Gizo. I wondered into her office at 10 am and left at 11 am. Zelda had tonnes of information, not just on sea level rise in Gizo, but the Solomon culture, education and other impacts via climate change.
After a short walk through the market and into Gizo hotel for a quick lunch. I venture to Save the Children NGO, who quickly point me onto the Natural Resources Development Foundation. I speak to them about my research and they are more than happy to help.
By this time, I go back to the hotel to get some Wi-Fi and cool down. I’m met with a message that my iPhone should finally be unlocked – I have internet!
Today is a research/explore the island day. I have organised a boat to take me to Kennedy Island – an island I’m told I cannot miss. Kennedy Island is extremely interesting and historic. The small isolated island, held J.F. Kennedy and other soldiers after their PT 109 boat was hit and sunk by the Japanese in WWII. After attempts by Kennedy and another soldier to get to US boats for help, locals on another island risked their lives to pass a message through enemy territory to save Kennedy and the others.
Now the island is designed for day trippers – a perfect location to snorkel or have a BBQ. I was intrigued and saddened to see that they had built their sea wall out of coral and cement. As explained by the Dive Gizo owner, the island is unable to move and flow like it should, and erosion of the island had started to occur.
After a snorkel session and a relax, I headed to FatBoys resort for lunch. A very expensive resort a secluded island. Again, I saw coral being used for sea defences and as a decoration to the resorts footpaths. I asked where they got the coral from and was informed it was from the other side of the island – where tourists wouldn’t be located. I made many mental notes about the things I saw on both islands. How they are built and designed to make money, with what I could see, little regard for the natural habitat.
Tomorrow I head north to West Ghizo.
I arrived in Gizo in much better spirits than Honiara. The rural location already set well with me. The streets were clean, there are few cars and very few expats. The staff at my hotel are extremely friendly, making me feel at home and welcome. A fresh set of sheets, flowers and towel in my room is always a welcome site. Gizo, even though being very small, I’ve managed to gain a great deal of insight into the impact of sea level rise. I’ve managed to see community life, the community struggles and how the community comes together. Gizo is somewhere I would recommend visiting, even for a few nights before heading to a resort island.