Friday, September 5, 2014

2 weeks in Honiara

I can't believe how quickly two weeks have gone by! I'm enjoying my life in Honiara (the capital of the Solomon Islands) so far. I live with two of my colleagues (and the girlfriend of one of them, who I actually met working in Tacloban) and they are all excellent cooks - I have established myself as the household dish washer, so everybody wins (but mainly me, because I hate cooking but don't mind washing up).

We have a couple of dogs and three cats running around the compound we live in, and the cats are the most unusual felines I've ever met; they're all very beautiful, like March here, and incredibly docile - you can scoop any of them up and cradle them like a baby and they'll just lie back and purr.
There's also a brown one with really cool markings who tends to come running in to our place in the evening, plonk down on someone's lap and then after enjoying some cuddles, it then proceeds to bite gently and want to play. I've got to dig out a nifty little LED torch that has a laser pointer that I packed, as I think we can have a lot of fun with that!!

The weather is lovely, it's always warm and has only rained a couple of times since I've been here. There are a quite a few nice places to sit by the water and enjoy a Sol Brew, and with views like this, it's easy to not want to do anything else! That being said, I'm hoping a trip to the beach might be on the cards this weekend, as I'd love to get out and see a bit more of the place.
My work is off to an interesting start. I've been working with the protection team on conducting assessments of vulnerable families who missed out on government support after the floods in April. A couple of families we met were sharing a house and the access to it was crossing the river on a little floating raft. The float operator uses the rope to pull his passengers across, and charges 1 dollar (the currency here is the Solomon Islands dollar) which is about 15c Australian each way. 
One of the families had missed out on the second hand clothing the Red Cross had distributed soon after the floods. We got in touch with the Red Cross, and they prepared the bags, and we had the joyful job of delivering them. It's not often I get to directly be involved in such things, and it was really nice to know that we'd helped to make a difference for this particular family. I've also been designing a training course for community-based disaster preparedness and response which is really interesting and fun. And then there are any number of other bits and pieces that pop up during the day that need attention.

I've also been enjoying driving the big 4X4 utes we have, having not ever been allowed to drive on a deployment before. After spending a number of months cruising around quite low to the ground in my convertible at home, it's quite a change to be up so high. The traffic here isn't crazy like in other places, people tend to stick to their lanes, but there is a lot of traffic going through town. It's times like that where the little automatic Rav4 is preferable to drive than the manual. It's also very rare to go above 40km/hr. It's nice that it's the same side of the road as at home, it's just a matter of keeping an eye out for dogs who seem to think that the middle of the road is a good place to stop for a scratch.

I haven't been taking too many photos, but I will try to do better at that, and do better at posting them here!

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