The winds changed, and then everything changed. Oftentimes we joke about how much of our lives are dictated by the wind. We go when the weather says go and hide out in a protected spot until bad weather passes. During cyclone season we run north or south to steer clear of the cyclone belt, and we wait until the weather gurus give the ‘all clear’. Anchorages that our friends tell us not to miss turn out to be miserable just because the wind direction is different than it was for them. Our lives are weather dependent, whether we like it or not.
These truths were made more evident recently when we had to return to Honiara to retrieve a package we’d ordered. If you read my previous blog post entitled “Honiara Hell”, you can imagine how thrilled I was to return (ha!). All those memories came flooding back and plagued me as we motored back to the nation’s capitol. But, the winds had changed.
What had been a swelly, choppy mess of an anchorage was now calm and still. Sure, boat taxis still zoomed past occasionally, but the ‘Honiara Roll’ that had haunted me last time was gone. The change in wind direction brought a change to my outlook as well. Suddenly, I could focus on things other than my seasick discomfort and see all that this bustling city had to offer. Last time, I barely got off the boat, because getting in and out of the dinghy and on and off the dock posed quite the challenge with the breaking waves. This time, though, I saw a very different Honiara.
Honiara’s grocery stores are fantastic, too. Between Panatina Plaza, The Bulk Shop, and Wings, we found anything and everything our little hearts desired - capers, flour tortillas, cornmeal, Australian beef, and dark chocolate! Our eyes were bigger than our bilges, and we struggled to find a place to store all our indulgences!
|Michael buying star fruit|
|Traffic jam in Honiara on the way to the market|
Okay, now it seems like the only thing I did while we were in Honiara was eat! And that might be somewhat true! But the food wasn’t the only thing that impressed me. The connections we made with the people living here grew exponentially during our subsequent visits, and I was thrilled to be given a glimpse into some of the things happening within the community that aligned with my personal interests.
Joyce became a hub of instant connections. She invited me to the Rotary Club meeting, where I heard young people speak about ways they are working together to serve their community and make Guadalcanal a better place. She also introduced me to Barbara at the Woodford International School, who invited our family to come speak to two classes about our live aboard lifestyle. I was impressed by the curiosity and participation of the students. They asked thoughtful questions and really were engaged in our story. This first visit prompted me to ask for the chance come back and observe a classroom. The International Baccalaureate program that they follow encourages students to be thinkers, inquirers, researchers, presenters. I wondered if I could incorporate some of this pedagogy into our boat schooling. And while I was sitting in the back of a classroom taking notes on the practicalities, Elizabeth and Michael were able to sit in with their peers and participate in a morning full of ‘real school’ learning.
|Teaching at the International School Honiara|
|Fresh smoothies after teaching at the International School|
|Kids playing with puppies at yacht club|
So many people we’ve met love this country and the people who make it “The Hapi Isles” (as all the license plates boast). Sure, there’s still trash along the streets, more pot-holes than paved road here, and we still lock up tight at night, but when you look beyond these things, you see real people working hard to restore and grow this country to its full potential. These folks have allowed us to see the Honiara that they know and love, and those connections and relationships offer insights that inspire me to look deeper into the community of the crowded city. To see the kind, courageous hearts of the people who call Honiara home and are working hard to make it an even better place.