Honiara is the capital of the Solomon Islands. Its located on the northern coast of the Guadalcanal Province. I’ve been staying in downtown Honiara at Chester Rest House, an establishment of the Melanesian Brotherhood. It’s a nice hostel-like place with a hostel-like environment. The city is very interesting – I can draw many parallels to certain sections of Indian cities (similar mishmash of shops and marketplaces, lack of structured traffic, betelnut stains everywhere etc.) The people are inviting, friendly and personable. Most everyone speaks English, but they prefer talking in Pidgin. I have been highly amused and fascinated by this language. I don’t see too many Indians around though there are plenty of foreigners (Taiwanese, Philipinos, Australians, Kiwis). Houses built on ancient reef terraces (my advisor, Fred, pointed out MIS 5e), using reef limestone (the very same which provides for the slaked lime used to chew their beloved betelnut) are quite a sight to behold. The weather is hot and humid (who would’ve guessed?) and there’s a welcome sea-breeze around the evening.
I’ve caught sight of many interesting geckos and skinks, although the birding life (around the city) has not been all that exciting. I’m astonished by the number of Indian mynahs in the city, an invasive species. I have had sparse internet access, mainly at the local expat coffee house (the Lime Lounge) and the Mendana Hotel lobby (don’t tell ‘em though!) We leave for the field (the Western Province) in a week or so, where internet access will be much less frequent. I can’t wait to get out there and observe the geology and geomorphology on those islands, much less catch a glimpse of some interesting fauna!