From Gizo, I took a 2 hour speedboat to Munda, a touristy little town for divers to base themselves. No more expats or NGO’s, just legitimately interested tourists… but all staying in the confines of Agnes lodge, which is a hotel, restaurant and tour operator monopolizing all of the foreign money and white people that come to the island. I stayed at Munda Guesthouse, which was basically just paying a family $100 Solomon dollars (approx. $13US) per night to sleep in an empty room in the upstairs unfinished part of their house. Its incredibly comfortable, clean and cozy, especially in tropical rain storms, so I’d direct any tourist away from anonymous Agnes Lodge to this guesthouse, a few hundred metres away from the beach but nestled in a tall coconut tree forest (don’t forget to look up when you walk under them!).
I learned that I’m quite the pool shark, after visiting the local pool bar 3 nights in a row and beating a lot of big men I refused to take bets with, but was paid in beer instead. I was one of few women, the others much older but all beautifully adorned with flowers in their hair, and some of them equally defeating in pool. I finally got kicked off the winner-owned table by one such woman, but made great friends with some politician, the son of the owner of my guesthouse, and a tattooed guy named Rex whose tattoos were barely visible on his dark skin.
I later traveled with the mother and son from Munda guesthouse all the way to Honiara on an overnight boat, and she mothered me the whole way. She made my bed made with a mat and sleeping bag on the floor, sharing a crowded but air conditioned room with another 30 people sleeping on the floor. Our food for the journey, bought at different port markets we stopped at along the way, was seaweed and roti and cherry tomatoes and clams… not the best mixed together but seaparately, all delish.
In Honiara I stayed with Sara at the Hibiscus homestay, and she had the most rotted red teeth I had seen yet, since she still had all her teeth! I never saw her spit, but she was always chewing on something, and covered her mouth whenever she smiled or laughed. She wouldn’t let me sleep in my hammock, but she slept in it and I got the bed. She fed me food whenever I was home for mealtime, and I’ve never tasted such tasty rice… it must be the cinnamon she puts in the accompanying pork dish.
My favourite part of Honiara was a little ways inland, where little villages settled along a river leads you to a waterfall called Mataniko falls. Its only a few kilometres from the sea, but it’s a roasting 1 hr hike in, where only the last few minutes offer any shade whiles you climb down into the forested canyon to get to this little paradise oasis of cold, blue water after being scorched by the sun. Instead of hiking back along the barren hill tops, we followed the river back out to town, swimming with our shoes and clothes in one above the water to keep them dry. Sometimes we could walk in the shallower bits, or follow the river bank, but we were basically stuck in the narrow river canyon, climbing over fallen logs and big rocks, and only encountered some tiny frogs, a few fish and one eagle on our wet and windy way back.