For my last blog from the Solomons, I want to take you on a visit to the village of Kolomosu on the island of Santa Ysabel, which 50 years ago used to take about three hours from our island school with three of us paddling in a dugout canoe. This year, it took just an hour in a fibre-glass boat with outboard motor. Janet, one of the other teachers at my school was from this village and I accompanied her many weekends, together with a boy from the school at Jejevo. Most of the students also went to their villages, leaving only a handful on our little island to spend their weekend relaxing out on the reef or foraging in the bush. Since we were always short of food for the students, everyone had to bring back a basket of kumara or taro to last the weekdays, supplementing what we could grow in the garden and what the local fishermen could bring us.
Looking south-eastwards along the coast from Tasia towards Kolomosu.
Passing three boys in a canoe, reminding me of how we used to travel.
A glimpse of Kmaga village, just before we reach Kolomosu.
And that day a visitor from the past arrived – with my friends, Janet (centre) and her sister Marion at Janet’s house.
The village of Kolomosu today, on the strip of lowland under the hills, and still only accessible by boat or on foot.
The family I stayed with on the weekends in 1967 with Mabel in the centre of the photo, and today to the right.
The main street of Kolomosu today, foot traffic only.
With Marion, Janet’s younger sister in 1967 and today.
A walk through the village brought back many memories – a woman relaxes on the beach after a day’s work in the gardens.
This pig has a wonderful giant clam shell as its water bowl.
Could have been chicken or pork on the menu, but not fish today.
Pleased to see a school has been built in the village, with classes from kindergarten through to lower secondary school.
A primary class underway and happy to hear a few words from a teacher from long ago.
Their teacher was teaching how to draw simple graphs using data from the class on what books they liked the most.
There are always some who like to ‘ham it up’ for the camera.
An elderly man by the name of David comes every morning to this spot to clean any rubbish
out of this little stream winding down from the mountain and across the beach.
And the lovely long white sand beach is also clean, devoid of rubbish and debris, just as I remember it.
As I wrote Kolomosu in the sand some of the school students came to talk and pose on the beach.
And some of the younger students wanted their photos taken too, so of course, I obliged.
Then there were the girls who quickly picked some hibiscus to enhance their beauty for the photo.
Some of the younger ones wanted to just stay close to their mother …
… or sleep comfortably in the arms of their grandmother …
… or sit with their granddad.
On other parts of the beach, games were going on, this one an interesting local ‘coconut and bat’ game
which seemed to require a lot of hitting and collecting coconut shells, but the rules were a little lost on me.
Others headed out to the reef as the tide was quite far out.
Two young girls trying to find some small fishes to take home.
Looking the other way down the beach, it was empty except for a little group of boys playing in the shallows.
The happy little group of sandboys.
The far end of the beach, showing how steeply the land rises up into the hills.
School boys walking home along a narrow strip of beach near a neighbouring village.
Leaving Kolomosu with Janet on a Sunday afternoon in 1967, and leaving again in 2017.
On the steps of Janet’s house in Kolomosu – so happy to be back, so many wonderful memories of that special year of my life.
So, with this fourth and last episode from my recent trip to the Solomons, I bring to a close this set of my travel blogs.
However, for anyone interested, I plan to use my photographs and stories to write a book, bringing together some history, folklore and culture of the Solomons, my stories and those of people I know from then and now. It will take a while but the plan is to publish in the first half of next year. I will keep you posted on progress.
My next blog will appear in November when I have a trip scheduled to Oman, UAE and Qatar.
Until then, all the best to you, my followers.