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Not all those who wander are lost

Here at Vella Lavella, hords of local children in their dugout canoes thronged around AKAMA. We generally blew up a bunch of balloons and they paddled like crazy to win one of the prizes.

AKAMA was boarded in the night in the Florida Islands. Here we see the footprints of the culprit. He took about three steps, got into the beam of the alarm, and then jumped and dived over the side. Even during this incident we never felt particularly vulnerable; such acts of petty thievery could happen anywhere.

Here are some dugout canoes being built at Bureh Village. While we westerners may think of these things as relics of the past that we learned about in social studies, they remain the primary means of transport throughout most of the pacific islands.

As soon as we showed up in any village in the Solomon Islands the locals would put together an ad hoc craft fair in the hopes of selling their beautiful carvings and other crafts. We usually bought more than we intended to. This display is a Peava.

These statues, carved from king ebony (pure black), like the piece in the background, are called Nuzu Nuzu. Large ones were placed on the bow of the big canoes when visiting another village. If the Nuzu Nuzu was carrying a bird (right) it meant that the canoe came in peace; if carrying a skull (left) it meant war.

We bought this "Spirit of the Solomons" walking stick, made from queen ebony (black and brown streaked). The man in the photo is the carver.

Up in the hills above Egholo Village we were shown the wreck of a US bomber. It was a sad sight, as the aircraft landed in the trees and then exploded before hitting the ground. Pieces of wreckage are scattered everywhere, including this big propeller, dug into the ground.

We were amazed to find this eco-resort on Ghavutu island in the Florida Group Islands. Here they study and train dolphins. They hope that the research will be supported by the income from the resort, now under construction.

Although Ghizo is the second largest "city" in the Solomon Islands, its market, and most of its other buildings are rather rustic. It was an interesting place to visit.

These foundations and bathrooms are all that remains of a once posh resort on the west end of Guadalcanal island. It was raised during the "tensions" between warring tribes in the late 1990s.

We spent many days and evenings at the Yacht Club at Honiara. This was another great watering hole and spot to meet local yachties.


The skulls of chiefs, warriors and victims are interred amid coral rubble on several small islands throughout the Solomon Islands. This one, at Kundu Isalnd was the best we saw. Note the shell money (ring).

Note the small house. The door in the foreground closes to preserve the skulls. Also located on the island are more recent Christian graves of village chiefs.

Here is AKAMA anchored in a lagoon at Liapari Island. Paradise just does not get much more ideal than this.

Throughout the Solomon Islands we encountered logging camps such as this one at Votana point in Marovo Lagoon. We can only hope that the concerns (usually foreign) are not clear cutting the forest. Water flow in the lagoon is not likely great enough to tolerate dirty run off without ecological consequences. Already most of the coral is dying or dead.

The natives at Lola and surrounding islands build these jumping towers, from which they dive into the sea. We did not have the nerve to try!

The Solomon Islands arguably boasts the best carvers in the world. We bought this bowl, a superb work, with inlays of shell and several woods. The nut being held alongside the bowl is the source of "custom putty" which is used to fill the voids between the hollowed out wood and the inlaid pieces of shell.

At Munda, we stumbled onto a Mother's Day "Dinner and Dance" The dinner was a terrific local buffet and the dance was an exceptional display of local talent, followed by audience participation. It appeared that most of the local mothers attended and few of the local men.

Everywhere we anchored we went in our dinghy up any navigable rivers and streams that we could find. In most cases, we found small settlements like this one. Usually, they were being built by locals in the hope of starting a new plantation of coconut, vanilla bean or to start a new garden.

This young fellow came to sell us his pet chicken for our dinner. We thought we had misunderstood, but his father confirmed that the boy had raised it and was now willing to sell it, pluck it and give it to us for a fee. We passed on the opportunity.

We wanted to see an active but tame volcano inland at Vella Lavella, after being told that it was an easy 15-minute hike through the jungle along well worn paths. We trekked hours through the jungle, fording streams and climbing mud banks, to get there.

The trek was worth it, as the volcano at Vella Lavella is still active, with bubbling pools of mud and deposits of sulphur and red ochre. We were advised several times as to where we could walk and where not. In places the ground was boiling hot.

This little US Marines tank was in the jungles above a village. It is in relatively good condition, given that it was destroyed by several armour piercing rounds.