Today I left Gizo and headed north to a small village at the tip of Ghizo Island. I was picked up by William, the owner of the lodge. We turned off the main road from Gizo onto a dirt track which leads all the way to his village – the only road in and out. It had rained heavily overnight, so the road was extremely muddy, and the progress was slow going.
The drive was extremely beautiful, we drove through hundreds of coconut trees, right next to the open ocean. We past through small villages with no more than a few houses, to much larger villages with a primary and high school. All along the way, William pointed out areas where the sea regularly floods, buildings which had been damaged in the 2007 tsunami and the places where the communities had built sea walls.
After an hour and a bit drive, we reached his village. He had lived there his whole life and had built the lodge in 2008. The lodge itself is made up of 2 bungalows. The bungalows are right on the water's edge, with places to sit, relax and large amounts of coral to keep any snorkeler entertained.
With no electricity and a heavy reliance on rainwater, this place is off the grid and I love it.
After, 12 hours sleep I still feel tired. Over the last few days, I’ve felt like I have been fighting something off. I wake up to William who has brought me breakfast and insists on making me hot water for my tea, I don’t have the heart to tell him I don’t drink English breakfast tea. During my morning “We Are Resolute”, ‘#100challange’ workout, I notice dark grey clouds appear on the horizon, along with high winds and waves crashing further out to sea. This is the tone for the rest of the day, even though there is no rain, I feel cold for the first time in the Solomon Islands and I spend the day reading, napping and hoping to shake off whatever my body is fighting.
A quick dip in the sea in the afternoon, my washing hanging out to dry and I am feeling a lot better. Tomorrow, Sunday, I want to explore the village and maybe take the kayak out for a paddle.
We’ll call today my ‘day off’ from research.
Well if I thought yesterdays weather was bad, I had no idea what was to come. By the evening the weather had deteriorated. The wind and rain were pounding the bungalow, as I lay in my bed I could feel the bungalow move in the wind. This kept up for most of the day. William kept on coming into the bungalow to check I was okay and to make sure the windows were closed. I huddled inside hoping that the wind and rain would stop enough so I could venture to the outside facilities. This wind and rain kept up for most of the day and night.
This morning I woke up and thought that the weather might have calmed down – William kept on saying, “this afternoon it will be okay”, then “tomorrow morning it will be okay”. I was not convinced. By this time, it was only very windy, so I took the advantage and strolled in my fleece (yes it was that cold) around the village. After the short walk, with many high-fives from the local kids, I made it back to the lodge. The afternoon rolled around and even though the wind had died down, the water was brown from river runoff and the waves were still too choppy to enjoy a swim. I watched the bungalow next door get its roof fixed and read some more.
Tomorrow I leave for Munda, a 10-minute flight south.
I was told we would leave early for Munda, after having no electricity and having to ration my laptop battery to charge my iPhone, I had no power left. I was told 8 am we would be up and leaving for my flight at 9:30 am. Plenty of time.
By 6 am I was wide awake, the sun shining in, the chickens making a racket, there was no way I was getting back to sleep. At 6:30 am William came knocking on my door, his son needed to go to the hospital, so we would leave early – when I had finished my breakfast and got ready. I quickly ate, got ready so we could leave. His wife then came in and got the place ready for another guest arriving that day, it was all very rushed, and I felt I was in the way.
As it was time to get on the boat, they started piling in seaweed and banana leaves for the market, along with half of Williams family.
It felt like on a Saturday night when you pay for the Uber and everyone says they will buy you a drink, but you know there is a slim chance of this happening? This felt very much like that. I had paid SBD$300, around £30 for a boat to the airport and William they used it for a market and hospital stop – not that I will stop any child going to the hospital!
I arrived even earlier than planned at the airport, waited for a delayed flight, and then flew to Munda.
I would highly recommend the lodge to anyone that is staying or passing through the Solomon Islands. Williams wife makes amazing home-cooked food, all served with fresh fruit – I think I ate about 2 pineapples in 3 days! If the weather had played ball, I would have snorkelled and kayaked to my heart’s content.
And I did manage to talk about sea level rise and the impact this was having on the community!