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The Solomon Islands: Saying Goodbye (Part IV)

Updated on August 31, 2010

If you haven't already, start from the beginning: The Solomon Islands: The Journey Begins

Paradise Lost

The final day in Baraulu came quicker than I had imagined. We gathered in the church for the evening to celebrate with the entire village. They prepared a massive feast for me and my classmates. After eating, we continued the party on into the night, sharing goodbyes, collecting PO Boxes, and laughing. I was given some parting gifts and headed down the muddy path towards bed for the last time. Early the next morning, I threw my clothes into a bag and said goodbye to my host mother, Gladis. I left most of my things for her to have, along with some coloring books and things for the kids. Most of the village was already on the dock waiting to send us off. After saying goodbye, we hopped in the canoe and set off back for Munda to catch the bi-monthly, 22 seater, departing flight to the capital, Honiara.

The flight out of Munda I was feeling a mix of emotions. I was sad to leave the friendly faces and the beautiful islands with all its creatures, but it wasn't real life for me. I had to return to my family, friends, and school. I was leaving with many things; seven rolls of film, multiple journal entries, some wood carvings, a shell necklace, mystery cuts, and mosquito bites, but none of these mattered. The experience was a dream come true, another checkmark on my life list. I had been on sensory overload from the moment I arrived in Munda one month prior. I thought about all that had happened as we flew towards Honiara. I sat with my headphones on, gazing out the window at the hundreds of islands scattered below between the turquoise water.


little timmy, barefoot
little timmy, barefoot
Waving goodbye
Waving goodbye
loading the canoes, one last time
loading the canoes, one last time

We landed safely in Honiara and checked into a hotel. I felt how Leonardo DiCaprio's character in The Beach must have felt when he left the seclusion of the beach and goes to the bustling mainland to get supplies. For no real reason, I felt sick, literally. I spent the next two evenings sweating in a hotel bed, swallowing pills, and venturing outside only a couple times to grab some food from the open-air market next door. At night, over the noise of the car horns, I reminisced about the sounds I had grown accustomed to hearing at night in Baraulu. The church bell ringing for evening masse, or young children singing soft hymns over the buzzing of jungle insects. I thought about being in my room with the rats and spiders, with the view over the lagoon in either direction, one window for the sunrise, and one for the sunset, and I missed it already. Here, out the hotel window, I could only see cars, masses of people at the market, and rusted scraps of metal in a distant shipyard.

I would be back in Los Angeles in a few days time, and the Solomon Islands would again only be seen on TV, or read about in books, or as a little string of dots on the map in my apartment. I would never forget what I had learned, the memories I accrued, and most importantly, the people I met. Joining such a unique and foreign culture for just one month, was such a great experience. The people of the Solomon Islands are some of the most genuine people I've ever met, with little more than the sand and sea to call their own. It's refreshing and inspiring to see such simple joy emanating from within. Wealth, to a Solomon Islander, is measured by smiles and laughter, not nickels and dimes. Looking back on the experience, it will forever remind me to stop, take a deep breath, and recognize that very breath as a great gift. I may be returning to California with an empty bag, but with a full heart, bursting at the zipper.

the meaning of life
the meaning of life

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      Jeannie 5 years ago

      What a beautiful story, but I want to hear so much more. I read about the islands today because of the earthquake and found your story. I traveled for many years with my job, but don't know anything about the Solomons...I feel a little more informed now thanks to you. It makes me want to go back to college and sign up with your professor,honestly!

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      Michelle 6 years ago

      That was beautiful! What a gift to read. Thankyou! I am considering moving to the Solomon Islands for 2 years with my husband and son, and I have been looking for information/confirmation about going - and I think I have just found it in your experience. Thankyou for sharing!

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      SAESAE 7 years ago

      No Problem Jeff! Your experience is priceless :)

    • jdaviswrites profile image
      Author

      Jeff Davis 7 years ago from California

      saesae - thanks again. I had the most amazing experience in your country. These words don't do it much justice, but I tried. I'm glad you were excited to read. Thanks

    • profile image

      SAESAE 7 years ago

      Hi Jeff, I was so excited to read this! I am from the Solomon Islands.

      Leana hola lo yu stret :)

    • jdaviswrites profile image
      Author

      Jeff Davis 8 years ago from California

      Nicole! thanks for reading... I've been meaning to get some words out about the whole trip. A bit difficult to sum up such an incredible experience like that in few words, but I tried. I hope you enjoyed and it brought a smile to your face. Hope everything is well.

      stacka love and leana hola to you

      Jeff

    • profile image

      Nicole Bulalacao 8 years ago

      Hey Jeff!

      Thanks for sharing this. I liked that you remembered Nusa Hope out of all the villages. That one was definitely my favorite. I always wondered what everyone else was thinking on our trip. It's nice to know I wasn't the only one who had some sleep problems with the rats! I think you experienced the most pivotal moment of the trip when you caught the fish, that caught a bigger fish, that caught the shark.

      Anyways I hope you're doing well wherever in the world you are!

      Leana Hola

      Nicole

      PS. I lost the game =).

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