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SOLOMON ISLANDS The British Solomon Islands Protectorate (B.S.I.P.) became independent in 1978 and has had mixed fortunes since including a bloody civil war, mostly on Guadalcanal. WW2 saw ferocious and horrific fighting through much of the Solomon Islands mostly involving the USA and Japan with the islanders caught in between. Lots of the evidence of this fighting is still there. The country has changed much over the 50 years since I lived there but it is still possibly the best place to experience the real South Pacific (along with Papua New Guinea).

A journey with my son through a little of the South pacific in 2019.

Cool and rainy for the first few days but so nice to be back in a familiar world. Then the heat and humidity really hits. And the mosquitoes. Like the rest of the Pacific, the cost of everything seemed crippling. Real coral reefs full of fish so the snorkelling was the best! The whole country felt enormous after coming from tiny atolls of Tuvalu and Kiribati. And, just like Tuvalu and Kiribati, I knew enough about the history, culture, politics and influential people to hold a conversation with locals or ex pats about pretty much anything. So many of the people and stories will stay with me for ever. Friday the cat, surrounded by fish swimming in front of it and birds swooping down catching insects cm away from its nose. The cat’s instinct took over and a cartoon moment later it realised it had missed the bird and was now in mid-air over the sea and gravity was real. A cat in the sea with sharks has the survival ability to swim pretty damned fast! “Friday’s fallen in the sea!”. “Oh no, not again”. “What d’you mean again!!!”. Sharks, waterfalls, WW2 left overs again, Billy the guide with the million dollar smile, Chinese trade stores, the old home in Panatina, the saltwater crocodiles, the conversations (“of, course, we are crocodile people, so crocodiles can’t harm us”), Francis the flight attendant, the new customs officer (“another day in paradise”, “it’s not all paradise”, “it is where I’ve just come from – Afghanistan”), politics, Chinese triads, Max the guide to Tenaru Falls, searching for old wooden carvings, overloaded boats, warriors skulls from headhunting days. Learned so much from Patricia George at the National Museum including how little I actually knew. All this and we only really touched the Western Province. So much more to see. Each time I go back, some of the places have changed but I realised that I have also changed and each time I see the place with different eyes. I got so much from this trip and I think Will did as well. Not finished with this place so better start saving again!

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Looking across to Kolombangara

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Sunset from Lola island

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WWII museum a short walk from Munda

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Evening in Munda

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Waterfall on New Georgia island

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Tenaru Falls on Guadalcanal

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Gizo market

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WWII Hellcat in 8m

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Lolo island

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P9190577.JPGNusatupe airstrip near Gizo

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Gizo market

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Gizo

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Gilbertise village in the Solomon Islands. Such a sad history of forced migration from the Gilbert Islands to the Solomons by the British.

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Skull Island

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Quite a change for the old house nearly 50 years on

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