Tulaghi Harbor Foxholes

Tulaghi Harbor Anchorage

Flower on hike
There is a rich history here in Tulaghi Harbor in the Florida Islands of the Solomons. This was the site of the first battles of WWII in the Pacific. The Japanese had stationed themselves here until the US Navy came and took over, searching out every last Japanese soldier. The first day we’re anchored here, we hike past a crocodile trap and up through a deep cut that was hacked out of a mountain by prisoners using pickaxes. The steep walls tower above us on either side, with a rickety bridge running across the top. Our goal today is to find a foxhole where Japanese soldiers hid when the US forces invaded. It is so hot as we walk along that I can feel the steam rising from the moist, fern-covered ground that skirts the narrow footpath. We pause in the shady spots before venturing back out into the tropical sauna, thankful for a break from the sun.

A local family pass us carrying bags of fruits and veg from their gardens, and we ask for confirmation that we’re headed the right way. It seems WWII sites aren’t high on their must-see list, because no one has a clue what we’re talking about. Undeterred, we press on and finally come to a government sign marking the historic cave. It is a small entrance, nearly covered by the dense foliage of the area, but the kids peek inside tentatively.

“Did we bring a flashlight?” one of them asks.
“Do you have your phone? We could use the light on that,” another suggests.
“Awwww. Can you remember to bring a light next time we decide to look for foxholes??”
“Of course. Next time.”

One of the kids is determined to go all the way through to the opposite entrance of the tunnel, so he disappears into the darkness. Only the echo of his constant chatter signal to us that he’s okay. He emerges from the other side, slicked with mud and grinning with pride at his brave, independent expedition. The kids surround him with the awe he has earned, asking all kinds of questions about what he saw and how it felt in there, obviously impressed by their friend’s courage.

The Japanese foxhole
We decide to walk to town and check out the market. There’s not much left at this time of the afternoon, but Matt buys a pineapple for $10 Solomon (about US$1.50) and I spot a mini shop that I want to peek into. What could be hiding in there? A large U-shaped counter stands in front of the product-lined shelves that reach from floor to ceiling. I am amazed at the variety of things that line the shelves - toilet paper, chili sauce, perfume, and even a row of bizarre Chewbacca coffee mugs for about two US dollars each! I resist the urge to buy one, just because it’s here, in this tiny shop in the middle of the Solomon Islands. But it is proof that this place is a true ‘corner store’ with everything and anything nestled among the inventory.
Ice blocks for all!

Amidst all the odds and ends, though, I spot someone buying something I absolutely HAVE to have. The foxhole hike in the tropical heat has left me parched. Hot. Grumpy. This is just the thing to lift my spirits... I need to buy an ‘ice block’. These frozen pops of sugary goodness that come steaming from the chest freezer could cost a small fortune, and I would pay! Thankfully, they are a mere $2 Solomon (25-ish cents in US currency!), so we all splurge on a refreshing treat!

Our walk back cooled us off even more, as a light rain began to fall. Nearly every afternoon here, we’ve had a shower pass through. Sometimes it’s much more than a shower- a downright deluge of water! Each of us are always thankful for the break in heat, but we also have vastly different personal reactions to the storm. 

Typical afternoon shower
When Mark sees a squall coming he thinks, “Gotta hook up the water catchment hoses! We’re gonna fill the tanks!” He runs out on deck, cleans it of any debris (i.e. bird poop), and secures the hoses to the bimini top. 

Mark scrubbing deck in rain
Elizabeth’s response is very practical, “Close all the hatches! Rain’s coming!” Michael dons his swim shorts and takes the term ‘shower’ literally as he runs out on deck, “Time to get wet! And this means the frogs will be coming out on shore!” 

Kids playing in rain before frog hunting begins.
Games after rain
Me, I quickly check the lifelines for drying laundry and glance at our distance on the anchor watch as the winds pick up. Once it’s all tucked away and I’m certain we’re secure, I plop myself right in front of a fan and use the rain as an excuse to hide out in my own little foxhole and relax with a good book.


Popular posts from this blog

My Diving Class!

Roncador Reef - Part I

Mortlock Islands, PNG