The journey from Kavieng to Honiara went smoothly, with a small hitch of almost 30 minutes delay in Kavieng, which made us think that we would not be able to catch the flight to Honiara. For a change, in these parts, nobody does their job efficiently, that is, when they are working! Because most of the time, they are sitting, resting, with their legs apart, relaxed, backwards, or with their heads resting on their arms crossed on the table, taking a good nap. When we ask something, they get up and call someone to answer us because they are resting! It is not understood! They have the job of getting up to call someone else, but not to answer us… who knows!
When we were in the check-in line, the light went down. Well, it was chaos! Nobody knew what to do, they took a long time to turn on the generator and they looked like donkeys looking at a palace…
When the light came back on, no one knew how to turn on a computer and they had to call the guy who normally puts his bags on the plane to be able to continue with the so-called normal work. As they couldn’t turn on the computer (Christ help me!), they started issuing tickets by hand! Yes, handy!! And as they were more than 30 minutes late, instead of hurrying up, no, they wrote everything very slowly, with drawn letters… I was already pulling my hair out! I just wanted to snatch the pen out of his hand and start writing myself. That or press the button that says power on the computer! Our!!!
Mas lá conseguimos embarcar, a muito custo, e conseguiram recuperar o tempo perdido durante a viagem e chegamos a tempo a Rabaul, para uma rápida escala, onde nem saímos do avião. De Rabaul, fomos diretos até Port But there we managed to board, at great cost, and they managed to make up for lost time during the trip and we arrived in time to Rabaul, for a quick stopover, where we didn’t even get off the plane. From Rabaul, we went straight to Port Moresby, without making the stops we had made on arrival (in Lae and Kimbe), to depart for Honiara. Everything going according to plan. In Port Moresby we still had time to eat a very quick breakfast, to get on the plane with the Salomão football team. They had come to play and won, so they all came in a good mood, happy, celebrating and showing their photos in the local newspaper. They looked like children!
Deixamos a Papua com a sensação de que vamos voltar um dia. Olhamos para baixo e deixamos um “bye bye, see you We leave Papua with the feeling that we are going to return one day. We looked down and left a “bye bye, see you soon!”
Seen from above, Papua has a super dense vegetation, it is rare to see the ground, houses or roads, only trees and palm trees in a mountainous territory, with cliffs and cliffs. I can’t even imagine what’s out there on the loose… besides cannibals butchers!
The weather at Salomão was not as good as at PNG, which made us fear that the plane to Seghe might be cancelled. My saying, my deed! 30 minutes before the flight time, they came to tell us that the flight had been canceled due to a technical malfunction that had happened at lunchtime and that they had not been able to fix it in time and now it was too late to go because Seghe’s runway didn’t it had lighting and would not be able to land at night. What a poop!!! We had to accept, after insisting that they arrange another fast flight for us before it was dark, but they tied up so much that it was impossible.
They put us in the King Solomon hotel, one of the best in Honiara, but which leaves a lot to be desired in terms of finishes. On the other hand, there is no better and neither do they know how to do it differently. A wooden hotel, with a giant lobby, a large reception, just plain sight as it was full of mosquitoes. It had a typical American bar, a restaurant (very good food, we ate a WONDERFUL Hawaiian pizza! And a plate of crab, lobster, fish and squid! All paid for by Air Solomon!!) and a cable car like the elevator at Good Jesus.
The huge rooms with tiled floors (which are already low in quality and comfort), a bathroom that already looks old and used, with rust on the shower tray, a minibar and an area for putting clothes away. The overall look was old and worn, even looking dirty without actually being. We tried to access the net (so that we could talk to you after a long time without giving any news) and eat the delicious dinner kindly offered by Air Solomons. With our stomachs full, almost rolling with food, we tried to find out how to rent a car in Honiara for when we got back from Maroovo Lagoon. For a change, there was a girl behind the counter, her head resting comfortably on her arms crossed on the table, and when we asked for help, she went to call a colleague to help us… you don’t understand the system. If it were me! The guy there gave us a card with a company number and we went to bed.
The alarm clock at 4:30 in the morning sounded like the great toll of a bell, and an electric shock made me jump in bed. Not knowing where I was, or what time it was, or what the hell was going on, I lifted my head and looked around in a failed attempt to understand my surroundings and wake up. Failed…totally failed! Diogo postponed the alarm clock and those next 10 minutes knew paradise. But it has to be very strong, stronger than sleep and laziness, and there we got up, with a heavy body and lead in our eyelids! We fixed everything and went down, still zombies. After a brief conversation with you, we left for the airport, still unsure whether we would really go to Seghe or not.
We arrived at the airport at night, with the plane waiting for us. YUPY!!! Let’s go to Seghe!!! We checked in and went to the departure gate.
When we saw the plane, we began to see that beside the engine were some black spots, clearly coming from some fire. We asked if everything was ok with the plane and they told us that the engineer would now do the inspection. LIKE THIS?? They had all this time to fix the fucking plane and it’s only now, with us at the boarding gate and with the bags already inside, that you remember this? Classic! With our heads glued to the windows of the boarding gate, Diogo and I and 4 other people who were going with us on the flight, we tried to understand if they were doing a good job and if it would be safe to go. We saw said engineer inspecting the 2 engines but we only saw one of the propellers working… BIG SHIT! We’re still on land for one more day… still with only one propeller working, they told us to get in the plane and I’m sure I’m all scared. With our eyes fixed on the stationary propeller and without making a single sound, we got into the tiny plane and sat down in our respective places. When the static propeller started to rotate, even our little souls glowed!
The pilot came to say that everything was ok and that we would be leaving in a few moments and then explained all the usual crap, how to fasten the seat belt, procedures in case of emergency, etc. I confess that even so, I was still unsure and confident that everything was fine. But in fact, everything went well, without scares or bumps. The view was magnificent, which ended up distracting the people from the situation at hand. We made videos and took the appropriate photos to show you.
The landing must have been one of the most beautiful we’ve ever seen. With the runway starting right on top of the water, perpendicular to it, it looked like we were going to land on top of crystal clear water, full of coral, and in front of us, through the pilots’ window, only palm trees and trees could be seen! PRETTY !!! Needless to say, Seghe’s “airport” was tiny… a cabin, with wooden slats placed vertically, painted blue with white lines in the same position, with a gable roof in tin plate, where underneath it said “ Welcome to Seghe”. A wooden sign placed in front of the cabin (read airport) read “SEGHE AIRPORT”! Top!! But beware, much better and much bigger than Malekula in Vanuatu! MUCH BETTER!!!
People came to wait for family members, friends and guests at the door of the plane, all in the middle of the runway, where all the bags were being placed. It wasn’t even necessary to go through the cabin. The guys from the hotel, who had come to pick us up, took our bags and took them straight to the banana boat. The weather was not very famous and we were convinced that it was going to rain and if it did we would all get wet, which with the wind caused by the boat, could be quite unpleasant… and so it was, on the banana boat, which has no cover, it started to rain and in an instant we were drenched. What matters is that the wind is hot, even if it is caused by the boat’s displacement. They even lent me their coat, a typical fisherman’s trench coat, and full of style, off we went. I must be half sick because I fell asleep on the boat! Yes, me, me, sleeping on a boat, with waves… I don’t know how that happened! I can never sleep anywhere, not in cars, planes, trains… sleeping on a boat! Top! I think it was the stress of the flight.
After 1:45 am we arrived at the Wilderness Lodge. A locally managed house, atop the beach, surrounded by palm trees, cockatoos, parrots, with a jetty over the crystal clear water of a lagoon surrounded by a reef and the Pacific. In our room we have 2 beds, with mosquito net, one of which is a bunk bed. The bathroom is next door and we just have to share this paradise with a Hawaiian woman and her son who are leaving tomorrow. On Monday 2 more people arrive and we leave on Wednesday afternoon. Below the jetty we see coral with nemos and a huge school of fish! Wonderful!!!
Eager for the rain to pass, we went to pack our bags and have breakfast, which the ladies kindly prepare for us: a huge omelet, rare (to our liking) and toast, milk, coffee and tea. What more could we ask for? A massage from 1:00 to 10€? Yes may be! Come two! We make an appointment for Saturday after breakfast. This is REALLY heaven! It just didn’t stop raining in time for us to be able to explore the reef. We talked to Bridget (not Jones, but Burger!) and Tenzen (the 10-year-old son, completely at the age of the moron and with the typical American accent that even has its joke) about the present and about the our lives (in real life). Diogo played Super Mario with the kid, we had dinner and went to sleep. I slept like a stone! So heavy that the next day I woke up with headaches.
With a heavy head, I woke up to say goodbye to Bridget and Tenzen who were leaving at 7:00 am heading for Hawaii. Then we had breakfast the same as yesterday, but with a different omelet and went snorkeling in the hotel’s canoe. We saw a GIANT Pufferfish, which we affectionately named Pufas. Nemos are friendly and there are 4 members of this family, located right at the entrance to the sea. It is very rare to see nemos on the surface. When the dive guide arrived, he told us about the various dive spots nearby and about what we could find he just said “we will see what we can see”. Nothing is guaranteed.
We then went by boat to the first dive site. As soon as we enter the water, looking down, we see a huge amount of coral and fish just under our feet. Come down! With the cylinder on the back, attached to the vest, pressing the button to empty the oxygen vest with the left hand and with the bubbles coming out of the same button, we begin the descent through levels and levels of coral of the most varied shapes, colors and sizes, with hundreds of colorful fish all around us. Tomorrow we will make a video of our descents so you can see how wonderful the underwater world is. We are noticing that here, the corals on the surface seem to be more varied and colorful than at great depths, where you see more corals in fans where the pygmy seahorses usually are (beautiful pink seahorses, almost microscopic). In this dive we saw 3 turtles and many nudibranches of various sizes, colors and shapes. We came out of the water slightly disappointed..
It was time to go back to the hotel for lunch. The next dive was going to be done at 2:30 pm. One in the morning, one in the afternoon. After lunch, it was a breeze around these parts, the kind that just makes us want to forget the world, close our eyes for just 5 minutes (which turns out to be 2:00 am), but that tastes wonderful and reminds us that we’re on vacation and that’s why we can.
Acordamos para o segundo mergulho, ao lado de uma lagoa de água cristalina, tipo piscina, numa vila de outra ilha vizinha. Fomos recebidos dentro de água por um tubarão de pontas brancas e outro de pontas pretas que andavam a We woke up for the second dive, next to a lake with crystal clear water, like a swimming pool, in a village on another neighboring island. We were met in the water by a white-tip shark and a black-tip shark that were hunting together. This beginning alone made the whole dive worthwhile. Very quietly, the white spikes came up unusually close, to see what we were and what we were doing, clearly unaccustomed to seeing humans in his house. There he followed his little life and continued to hunt. In this dive we saw many sharks, barracudas, nemos, nudibranches and very beautiful coral, especially closer to the surface. We also saw a light green shrimp clearing the house of larger sands, leaving a cleaner path towards its sand burrow. A candlestick!
The dives here continue to last over 60 minutes, which is great because no one pressures us to go up, as long as there’s oxygen, of course! We went back to the hotel, where we found that from 5:30 pm on Friday until 5:30 pm on Saturday no one works on this island. In other words, tomorrow there is no diving for anyone. We put some music together, danced a little, in an entire hotel just for the two of us, drank lime juice with honey (which is great!) and sent you some photos. Dinnertime quickly arrived, with a fabulous view of the Pacific and the reef and a delight of kings at our disposal. Chicken legs, grilled sausages, banana with coconut milk and fried yam, vegetable and pineapple salad with sweet and sour sauce, rice and white fish kebabs with green peppers and onions with super spicy coconut sauce. I was already feeling my stomach about to burst when they put dessert in front of me: two fried bananas wrapped in sweet crunchy flour! Without even making an effort to resist, I savored every inch of those delicious crunchy bananas! Full of stomach pains from having eaten too much, we came to bed, to sleep and dream of the massages that they will give us tomorrow. I’m seriously thinking about switching from dips to massages, if tomorrow goes well and stays very relaxed. If I change, I do 2 massages a day and it’s even cheaper than diving! To see…
The Sabbath! The day when no Adventist (the most practiced religion here on the island) can do anything. Which means that neither do we… There is no diving for anyone, there are no boats, canoes, no one cooks, they stay at home, take little (!) walks, talk and read. It is a day for introspection and prayer, thinking about sins and at 5 pm go to mass to confess them.
However, our cook is not an Adventist and that’s why we were entitled to breakfast, our massages, sandwiches for lunch, snack and dinner had already ended the Sabbath, which lasts from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday. We had bolognese pasta, fried breaded fish fillets and some vegetables. For dessert? Good fruit salad! The day, despite not having much to do, was spent quite well. In the morning we had a massage for 1 hour each, then we went snorkeling in front of the lodge and only came out of the water when our stomach was already rumbling with hunger, after all it was midday!
I was quite amazed at the quality of the snorkel right here! We even saw razor fish – very rare razor-shaped fish that swim upside down – picasso fish, parrot fish, some very rich little blue fish, bat fish that keep us company during the dive, getting very close to us because they are waiting for food, and a series of fish we don’t even know the name. Pufas was still under the hidden jetty and when I went to film him, I think I scared him to death, because he ran away and we never saw him again. Poor thing! Come back Pofas… it wasn’t for bad. There is also a huge school of fish on the left side of the pier and they spend their days there, standing there, looking at yesterday. They don’t leave that place all day! Well, fish are said to have a 3 second memory, so it must be ecstatic! We made several videos of us snorkeling, including the razor fish. The massage was great! It was just too bad she just massaged the back of her body. The front was very envious… but what was massaged was very tight and the meat was well tenderized! I think I’ll want to do it again, maybe on the last day, to go really relaxed.
After lunch, we went for a walk after a good siesta. We walked to the end of the lagoon, through the various tiny villages that appeared, among palm trees, parrots, cockatoos, strange flowers and tropical plants that delimit the path and grounds of the “houses” of the island’s inhabitants. These houses are all built on sticks and raised from the ground. They are very chaste and well arranged, with wooden slats that are rounded at the end, giving them the appearance of a tropical barbie house.
Everyone is extremely friendly, always greets, wants to take pictures, gives “high fives” and smiles a lot. When we reach the end of the lake, we start to see cowries everywhere and I, for the same thing, take one to bring as a souvenir, but the guy is stuck to the rocks… aaaahhhh!!!! They are like limpets! Oh! How boring! Snack for dinner! We started to catch all the whelks we could, leaving only the smallest ones for the continuation of the species. How wonderful… We caught many and when we got back to the lodge, the sun had already set, we asked the cook to prepare them for us. She nodded and took them. When she brought them to the table, they were reduced to half a dozen… they shrank, they lost the shell and not even the hole of a tooth covered them. But they were great! This with salt, lemon and a good hand of coriander is what was top! Lapas à bolhão duck… I even drool!
MaBut the best part of the day was yet to happen! With nightfall, as you might guess, darkness came. And when I say dark, I mean so dark that you can’t see a foot in front of your nose. When we were still seeing something, we saw cat-sized bats flying overhead, looking for palm trees with fruit to feed on (this species only eats fruit). However, to see them better, we went to the end of the pier. As the weather was fine, they set the table outside and a candlelit dinner was waiting for us. How romantic!
Suddenly, we see the fin of a black tipped shark out of the water! Damn, like someone who’s been shocked, we lie down on the pier, with the light of the cell phone’s flashlights pointing to the water so we can see the shark hunting. He swam back and forth, but at no time was the fish that walked right beside him. But we could never wait for what we saw next. Like magic, which at first almost seemed like a hallucination, we started to see some long streaks on the surface of the water and what looked like needlefish turned out to be fluorescent plankton! We started to look around us and saw the sea full of lights that blinked here, now blinked there! We pointed the flashlight and saw nothing! A normal sea. Only when we turned the lights to our bodies, removing the light from the environment, did we see some lights here and there… we tried to film, but there was not enough light. WHAT A PITY! Seriously! We so wanted to be able to share with you this very special and magical moment…
As time went by without light, the eyes got used to the darkness and we started to see more and more! We were able to see which animal did this phenomenon – a long, thin and tiny fish, almost microscopic, which when moving left a trail of light. We didn’t understand if it was with the displacement or if it was when I was pooping! Let’s embellish it, okay? It was with the displacement, agreed? They made beautiful drawings and swimming stunts, leaving magnificent trails that only a fairy with a magic wand could be able to do! With a pond lit up and flashing in the background, we had our romantic dinner. We were banished by a distant thunderstorm that in a few seconds turned into a heavy shower on our heads and that brought into the lodge a “crab-eating” spider that stayed on the edge of the roof just for shelter, 2 huge earth crabs (and not from the sea) to the bathroom and wiped out all the flies and mosquitoes! It was my cue to come to sleep, protected by the mosquito net!
The truth is that I’ve been sleeping 12:00 a day, 10:00 at night +2:00 at the end of lunch. However, sleep does not fail me when bedtime comes! Here, dinner is very early, at 6.30 pm they are already setting the table and especially today, since we were responsible for the cool barbecue, we were already having dinner at 6.30 pm. Therefore, at 20:00/20:30, we are usually already in bed. With no time to wake up and no curtains on the windows that don’t even close, we’re opening our eyes around 7:00 in the morning, to have breakfast, which is on the table at 7:30.
At 8:00 am we are already boarding the boat to go diving. Hard life! Today the first dive was in Bulo, the place that according to Stewie, our guide, is the best. We crossed a high sea, with huge waves that make the boat jump that almost make us fly out of our seat. The coast of the island, where we went to dive, is an abrupt cliff, where the waves crash in such a way that they look more like bomb explosions that release water at many meters of altitude, creating cracks in the steep rocks that support the palm trees above . Here hover white-headed eagles, which look like something out of an Indian movie. Suddenly, I hear Stewie screaming into the air and I automatically thought of dolphins and they were! So many jumping in front of the boat, to the side, further away… they are dark and swim super fast! Without any warning, the boat stopped and it was time for the dive. Right there next to the dolphins! I was expecting to see them from under the water and I don’t think I’ve ever equipped myself so fast to be able to get into the water asap! I put on the weight belt, cleaned the mask, opened the oxygen, put on the vest, put on the fins, tightened the vest, put on the mask, put the oxygen nozzle in my mouth, checked everything and threw myself onto my back to the water! I looked all around and nothing… they weren’t there anymore! What bullshit!
I waited for Diogo and Stewie and when they entered, we started to descend, releasing the air from our vest. The bottom was right there, about 12 meters, flat, and in an instant we reached the bottom. There was no coral, just rocks. There was a very strong current and I took the hook out so when we got to the place it would tie me somewhere. When I look to the left side to go to my pocket for the hook, I see 3 gray sharks, N O R M E S and fat, coming towards us, very calmly, like someone walking. I called Diogo with my stainless steel tube hitting the bottle, imitating a metallic sound that spreads very well under water. Diogo looks and I point. Even her little eyes sparkled! Without knowing how, we found ourselves in the middle of gray sharks, barracudas and piles of fish! Usually, in places with a lot of current, we always have a lot of action! Fish like current because it brings them food, cleans their gills and where there are a lot of fish, there are sharks and that’s what we want and like. With the grays patrolling the water and barracudas surrounding us, we had one of the best dives ever.
The barracudas would come really close and look at us suspiciously and the sharks seemed to want to know what we were. “What strange thing is this?” you could read in the expressions of the barracudas, which got closer and closer. We believe they may not be used to seeing humans, as there aren’t usually many people around. We attached the hooks to the choir so we could be quiet and watch the action movie unfold around us. But we had some difficulty, as there was a lot of current that made us change direction, either sideways or up and down. The hook ended up coming loose, not getting stuck for even 30 seconds! After a good 5 minutes trying to catch, with Stewie helping me, Diogo gives me his hook, which was already stuck. As soon as I hold it in my hand, a chain comes and takes my hook… damn it! Stewie managed to arrest there and this time he stayed until the end. I saw Diogo giving up on holding his, being at the mercy of the current, but managing to stabilize the buoyancy and making excellent videos.
There were times when we didn’t even know where to turn… there were so many around us that any angle where we turned the camera made a good video! I got to count 5 grays at the same time, plus the dense cloud of barracudas that sometimes approached us, sometimes remained in the twilight. In an excellent environment for National Geographic Channel to make a documentary, we had to leave the scene to go up for lack of oxygen.
We made the safety stop, as in all dives, 3 minutes at 5 meters deep and climbed into the boat in total ecstasy! With smiles from ear to ear, and with our heart pounding inside our chest, which seemed to be in our throat, we made the trip back to the lodge for lunch. When we arrived, we saw the videos we had made and we sent some to you. Lunch was put on the table and the wonderful meat tortillas disappeared in a flash! As always, after lunch, the usual slackness got over me and I went for my 2h siesta! With Diogo gently waking me up, I was pulled out of my beauty sleep so we could go diving again. “I’m sleepy, I don’t want to go.”, “Come on! It’s going to be cool!”, “Ok… let’s go…”, it’s the usual conversation!
We got on the boat and in 20 minutes we were at the dive site, off another island, this one smaller, in the middle of giant waves! Let’s go! It’s time to equip, get into the water and go down. Normally, as soon as we enter the water, we start descending right away because of the current that is stronger on the surface and in an instant can take us to another place. Here was no exception. In a scenario similar to the previous dive, almost without coral, we went down until we reached the steep wall that descends to whatever depth. We soon started to see fish everywhere, there were so many, so many, so many that there was almost no water through them. Of course there were also sharks with black tips to hunt. Until this destination, we had never been able to get even close to a shark! They end up running away. But not these! As they’re not used to humans, they get curious and get close, giving us the feeling that if we didn’t go astray and if we went to them, they wouldn’t run away. But there we go astray, respecting their territory, quite sensibly and, I confess, I’m afraid! Stewie started making sounds that attracted the tuna that swam right towards us, facing us, almost causing frontal shocks. They only deviated at the last minute! How brutal!
There we went on our route in cruise mode, until we reached an absolutely wonderful wall of so many colors, shapes and shapes! Here there was no longer the whirlwind of big fish and sharks. Only small fish, starfish, flat coral, tubular coral, blooming coral, small coral, large coral, purple, blue, yellow, green, pink, red, anemones with nemes, fans where seahorses walk (not yet we saw none!) and turtles. Occasionally one or two white-tip sharks would appear, but within a moment they would disappear. We strolled through this beautiful scenery, which seemed to have been taken from the background of a computer screen or an enchanted forest, taking our time, stopping to search unsuccessfully for the pygmy seahorses. We were so distracted that we didn’t even notice that we had passed the 100bar of oxygen, which is usually when we used to notify the guides so they were aware of our oxygen consumption, representing half a bottle of consumed oxygen.
When I looked at the computer, it had 80bar and I called him to warn me. Diogo had 90 bar. We started to climb slowly, to a more flat and shallow place, where the current was already making itself felt and kept us making waves up and down, from one side to the other. We made our safety stop and came to the surface after another extraordinary dive. When we arrived at the lodge, we went with Stewie to his village, passing through dense forest, mushrooms, orchids and flying locusts, beside a beautiful beach to die for.
When we got back to the lodge, we already had dinner ready for the barbecue! Fish marinated in lemon, salt and ginger, sausage and 6 lobsters already peeled in the same marinade! More rice, sweet potatoes, salad… let’s get out of here like otters! There we turned on the grill and started grilling. Of course, we didn’t miss the point of the fish, becoming juicy and tender, melting in the mouth. We gave it to the cook and she loved it! We moved on to lobsters… well, I have to say that with this landscape and grilling lobsters, there aren’t many places I wanted to be. When they came to the plate, they were golden, succulent, with pink veins, still with their tails clinging to their bodies. A delight to make any vegetarian drool! We ate everything, without leaving to sample! Only rice, salad and sweet potatoes were left. The best part is not having to tidy up and clean up after eating so much! We have a hotel completely at our disposal, with all of them working for us! Top! To digest, we went to sit on the pier, watching the sunset, waiting for the fluorescent animal! We watched the sun set as we talked, starting to appear here and there, blinking dots of light. In the distance, a thunderstorm launched lightning in our direction but it ended up passing off the island.
Today we had a visit to a grasshopper that has two perfect leaves like two perfect leaves, with the grain drawn and all, to disguise it and for no one to eat it, confusing it with leaves. When I discovered it, in the first second I thought “how is a leaf stuck there in the door?”, then when I got closer I saw some thin paws and I thought “there’s some animal under the leaf!”, only to notice that at the tip of the leaf there was a head and it was a grasshopper. It has been there since 8:00 in the morning. It’s now 6 pm and he doesn’t even move. We’ve already tried slamming the door to see if he gets scared and runs away, but he doesn’t give an inch! Every time we want to go into the room, it’s a movie, I’ve already walked by with a towel around my head and body, if it wasn’t for him to jump my hair… I was scared to death! However, as the day went on, we got used to his presence and almost didn’t even remember that he was there, except when we had to enter the room and literally pass under it!
When we went diving, we hoped that when we got back he would no longer be there. Today we repeated the same place from the last dive yesterday, because Stewie said that in the morning it was much better. I think this is the place where we “suffer” the most on boat trips. I’ve been taking enjomim every morning and it’s been working wonderfully, because otherwise it wouldn’t be easy. The sea, passing beyond “our” lagoon, after the break, is very wild, with big waves that come from all directions. Today, to make matters worse, it was really raining! That thick rain that hits the body and stings… with the displacement of the boat even worse! I ended up sitting on the floor of the boat, in a position to do sit-ups, almost tucked under the bench where the cylinders are mounted with the vests, such was the aggressiveness of the rain. When we were going through a big wave, I would jump in the air (I thought I was going to fly off the boat several times) and hit my tail squarely on the boat floor! How hard!!!
When the boat stopped, he went to equip as quickly as possible and get in the water and go down to get out of the current. Stewie is always the last to enter the water. Once we’re all 3 down there, we started going down to 25 meters, where everything happens. We saw some sharks but until we got to the part of the wall it was pretty quiet. When we were arriving we started to see a school of “bumphead parrot fish”, as fat and huge as water cows and, as usual, with the two front teeth always sticking out, like rabbits. They seem to be laughing all the time! They are super funny! They walked around us for the rest of the dive, even when we barely saw a turtle that was right next to us, crunching through the coral, very relaxed and satisfied. It didn’t even move when we were less than 2 meters from her! Stewie then, very calmly, approached her, inch by inch, with her looking at him, her neck all twisted. Diogo didn’t even know if he was going to film the bumpheads or the turtle… Stewie there managed to touch her shell which made her start to move away, without going very far.
We continued to swim, always with the rabbits by our side. They seemed to be dancing and clowning for us! Near the end of the dive, Stewie saw a stone fish, one of the hardest fish to find, because they are the ones that best camouflage their surroundings. Imagine you were in a small space, like a mini cave, with purple coral around and he was purple, with his body in the shape of a coral… we would never have seen him! NEVER! That’s what guides are for! There we finished the dive and went back to the lodge, to have lunch and take a nap before the second dive, which would be in Bulo, the same as yesterday where we saw the gray sharks. And it turns out that the damn grasshopper was still in the exact same place?! Balls… We ate some sandwiches and the wonderful fried bananas, which they even call fried bananas (they seem to speak Portuguese!) and went to bed.
We woke up at 14:00 to find out that the compressor to fill the diving cylinders had broken down and that we weren’t going to dive in the afternoon. But there was a bloodbath going on on the jetty! The women were catching fish right at the end of the pier and there were 5 black-tipped sharks, 3 of them quite large with sticks attached to them, and instigated by the blood falling into the water, they circled under their feet. They were throwing the fish’s viscera into the water and it was a frenzy of small fish and intermediate fish trying to eat what they could, until one of the sharks came and kept everything for him. This went on for some time, with the women having to find three giant tuna and 10 fish smaller than the tuna but still the size of good sea bass! They call them “Big Eye Jack’s”.
With the pontoon covered in blood, Diogo took one of the viscera and the GoPro and made some videos of the sharks eating. When the fish arrangement was finished, they asked if we like sashimi…………….. do we like sashimi?! Nothing! We don’t like it is little! Do a lot, but it is! We said right away that we would love to have a fat little sashimi prepared for dinner! They nodded and in my stomach even bells rang!! We went to a nearby beach to cool off, leave the area where the fish had been found (it was really hot) and found a beach with ropes that the kids use to throw themselves into the water. Diogo climbed the tree and I filmed it! It was super fun to see my little frog sprawling out across the sea! We laughed a lot!
We went back to the lodge (to see the locust statue in the same spot, we started to think he died there!) and decided to go fishing… well, none of us ever fished and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but we were going to give it a try. to laugh a lot. We took the canoe and off we went to a fisherwoman, who was already in the middle of the lake, to ask her for some baits and a line. She gave it to us there and we started our fishing saga. I confess that the trick was very little, but the fish are smarter than we were expecting! No matter how long we tied the bait to the hook, they could pull it out in a split second, without even giving us time to pull the line. Fraction of a second! Faster than lightning! It was amazing! Bait after bait, one by one, they were all eaten by their cleverness… I could almost hear them laughing at us! Resigned, we handed the line to the fisherwoman and left with the sashimi ready and waiting for us! We ate, saw our magical and super starry sea and came to sleep, because sleep is already tight at 20:00!
PS: when we came back from fishing, there was no longer any grasshopper…
The night was bad… it rained so much that it felt like the sky was going to fall. The noise of the rain hitting the lodge’s wooden walls and ceiling was deafening! When it started to thunder, even the bed shook! I swear I thought it was the volcano or an earthquake. At 3:00 am, unable to sleep, I was already making a movie in my head… The rays lit up both the outside and the whole room, as if it were day. The geckos didn’t even move (now there are 4, our roommates and they poop everywhere). And Diogo slept like an angel. In one of the most intense thunders, there he woke up a little and said “Damn, what a fear!” and he fell asleep again. I managed to sleep from 5:00 am to 7:00 am and woke up to the maids opening the windows and doors outside.
I left Diogo to sleep and went to see the storm. There are some islands near here, where we used to go diving, which you couldn’t even see, such was the rain. It was so dense and so heavy that nothing could be seen beyond the pond. We had breakfast (today we had scones with butter and jam, tea, milk and coffee) and had to wait for the rain to pass. It wasn’t until almost 10:00 am that we were able to leave. It was still raining lightly but the sky promised sunshine. We went to Kitcha, where everyone told us it was the best dive after Bulo (the place of the gray sharks) and in fact the dive was very good! In the first one, you could hear the underwater volcano that is almost 40km from where we were and the visibility was top! As soon as we went down I found a scorpion fish, also very difficult to find, thanks to its ability to camouflage. I was proud! We saw sharks and a blanket, but the most beautiful part was the sound of the volcano, which almost sounded like long thunder, the visibility and the coral. Diogo lost the red filter yesterday, so our videos and photos are now all blue and green… shit!
We had lunch on the island and Stewie went with us to pick some giant cowries for our dinner. They are very cute and have a super fun enclosure system! They have a door-like shell that is attached to the body that opens and closes. We brought a huge bag of them… let’s have a good snack soon! After the catch, we went diving again a little further ahead. It was a very calm dive but the visibility and the coral was just as beautiful as the previous one. This was going to be our last dive here. We finished big!
Kitcha turned out to be a very beautiful and surprising spot. We went back to the lodge and Stewie found out that today is his birthday! He didn’t know what day it was, it wasn’t until he looked at the calendar that he realized! Weird is not it? Not knowing what day it is… I felt like a truck had passed over me… Diogo went canoeing and I stayed at the lodge to write and relax. We saw a beautiful sunset and took a lot of pictures, it is the last sunset in this paradise. Tomorrow we’ll go to Honiara, if the weather allows us and if they don’t remember to cancel the flight, which puts the risk of not diving in Bonegi because we only have the 22nd to dive. If you cancel the flight, we will not be able to dive because of the 24 hours we have to respect due to decompression sickness.
Well, when they put dinner on the table for us and made us the usual presentation of the dishes served, we couldn’t believe it… lobster pizza! Here the fag is so cheap that they even make pizza from it. I confess that I would have preferred to have it grilled, but it’s worth the intention! They also gave us the cowries that we had caught in Kitcha and rice. My father used to say when he didn’t taste the rice: “rice is a specialty!” It was like today. Nobody touched the rice. We filled the bandulho with búzios and pizza. What about dessert? Fried banana!!! WONDERFUL!!! We said goodbye to the starry sea, the fireflies and I even found a scorpion fish! Tomorrow we’ll see if it’s still there.
PS: we are shocked by the fire… poor people! 🙁
The day dawned with the bluest sky of all these days we were in Peava. We woke up full of heat and with parrots and cockatoos singing and the noise of the calm water of the lagoon hitting the sand. Our concern today is to know if the flight to Honiara is not canceled and if we are going today or tomorrow. We didn’t want anything to have this bad surprise, which if it happens, robs us of the unique opportunity to dive into Bonegi. We had breakfast and went swimming for the last time in this wonderful lagoon with water at 30 degrees. What I gave to have this in Leça!
With the heat come the flies and here they are as annoying as everything! They are always around us and around the food, forcing us to be always waving our legs and arms trying to get them away from us and our food. The sun is strong today and it wasn’t until Saturday that we had a similar day. And like Saturday (which is Shabbat), today there is nothing we can do but swim. We have our bags to pack and lunch to eat when his time comes. We took the leftover bread from breakfast and went to give it to the hungry little fish on the pontoon. They already know that we bring food, even when we don’t, and they come to us as soon as we enter the water. Sometimes they get too close and there’s one who always comes and bites my foot on the pier steps. “Bite” because it only tickles! At first I thought it was a leaf, but then I saw that there was no leaf at all, but I also couldn’t find out what fish it was or even if it was a fish! The curious thing is that it only bites my foot! Diogo came out of all this unscathed! I must be tastier! It has good taste!
When we threw the bread into the water, dammit! Just watch them appear, swimming super fast, like arrows, to see who gets the crumb that fell into the water. If we shoot somewhere else, far away, off they go, darting after more food! The smaller they are, the faster they are! The bigger ones are much slower and lose out. From time to time there they push the little ones, who go astray, and open their mouths for the bread. With this agitation comes the curious black-tipped shark to see what’s going on and if there’s any fish in trouble, so it can give it a good bite! Nothing… there’s nothing for him. Take a walk and get on with his life! But today it didn’t show up.
After we packed and packed, it was time to buy a mortar and a small statue, both made of stone, made by the locals in the village of Peava. We packed the kisses we caught in Kitcha and the shells we collected here and there as souvenirs. Here there are no shops or supermarkets. In fact, our lodge is the only place with a fridge. There are no roads, only paths, where barely 2 people walk side by side. There are no cars or motorcycles. I saw a bicycle! The means of transportation are banana boats. Electricity is scarce. On Saturday, we saw the children better dressed, but most of the time they walk around naked and barefoot or in slippers. The paths have stones, branches, leaves, moss, mud and holes made by crabs, but the children run and play football barefoot like polished cement.
The entrance to the sea, for us, is made with slippers and with great care and tiptoeing, measuring the entire place where we will put our feet. They do not! They run and throw themselves into the water as if the bottom were all fine sand. Not to mention possible dangers that may be at the bottom, such as crocodile fish, stone fish, etc. that can kill an adult in minutes! Here you live the day to day, one minute at a time. See you tomorrow! During the day, the women talk, prepare meals, wash clothes and clean. The men talk, sleep, eat, some dive and around 17:00 they start preparing everything to go fishing until they come with the boat full of fish.
Remember our failed catch? Well, yesterday when Diogo went canoeing, he was watching a man fishing. His technique is to have good hooks, new and sharp. Score! There are no big or small baits, fish scraps, squid or rented houses here! He uses three very sharp and shiny hooks, puts a big weight on the end, throws the line and keeps pulling and dropping the line in rhythmic movements. This makes the hooks rotate and sparkle and this, apparently, attracts the fish that go there to bite into thinking that the sparkle is food. Easy, isn’t it? Looks! The truth is, he caught big fish, 3 and 4 at a time! Just throw the line, wait 10 seconds and then 3 or 4 giant fish would come at a time. Diogo was amazed! It’s a long year to turn chickens! So much was our technique, full of theories on how the easiest way would be, going through using bigger baits, holding the bait better, being patient, pulling and dropping the line rhythmically, throwing the bait away from the canoe, not talking, no moving… all bullshit!
New, sharp, shiny hooks and use 3 at once with a heavy weight on the tip! Nothing more! We have to go fishing in the Atlantic! Maybe on Pss shut up! At 12:00, as usual, they put the food on the table. Don’t fail! Half a day sharp! You don’t even need a watch. Grilled fish fillets (not breaded) with rice, vegetables and boiled egg. Dessert fruit… I confess that I was sad for not being entitled to the usual fried banana…
At the end of lunch, they insisted that we had better go to the airport and although we thought it was too early, because the weather was fine, we obeyed and by 12:55 we were leaving the jetty. We were going to miss it! Under the sun at 13:00 we took a 1h45 trip from the lodge to the “big airport” of Seghe! The lounge is a 4m2 room with wooden benches. Nothing more! Outside, grass and mud and a few more wooden benches for those who want to sit. People cross the track, run along it, play football and catch… there is a path, street type, in the middle of the track for people to cross. Top! In other words, we arrived at 2:40 pm and the flight was supposed to be at 5:20 pm. What boredom in the heat of melting an iceberg in seconds! Many mobile games later, it had passed 1:00 am… wow! They called us to check in, where we have to weigh our bags and we have our hand luggage. 10 minutes later, nothing else to do. Every now and then we heard a noise that sounded like a plane and there I went to see if our salvation was coming. No, it was just a boat passing by the lagoon… woe! How hot!
The person in charge of the “airport” announced that our plane had made a detour to fuel and had gone to Gizo, an island further north and that it was still going to stop in Munda, which is between Gizo and Seghe. We were already anticipating a flight cancellation. If they land at night (which happens at 6:30 pm), we weren’t going anywhere today and it was 5:15 pm! We went to see some kids playing football right next to the track and a guy who works on a liveaboard chatted with us and we chatted for a while. How hot! It seems that with each passing minute it gets hotter! And hunger was starting to tighten… we had some coconut cookies in the suitcase, it’s time to resort to the back up plan. And the minutes passing, the sun going down, no planes, the heat pressing down and we despairing!
Suddenly, we see the person in charge heading towards the track. We went straight to him. He tells us that the plane was already leaving Munda and that it took 20 minutes to arrive. It was 5:45 pm… let’s stay on the ground! I ask him “Are we still going to Honiara?” “YEAH!”, in a very slow and relaxed tone that didn’t give me any confidence! 5 minutes later, I was looking at the sky, in the direction from which the plane had arrived, already inside the runway (no one cares!) and I see a little black dot in the sky. “Is it?!”, “Could be…”, “I think it is.”, “Di, Di! It’s the plane! There, there!” What a celebration! So then I was leaving Munda and it took 20 minutes… balls for these solomons, who don’t know the time!! Someone give them a watch and teach them the difference between seconds, minutes and hours please! At 18:00 the plane was already taking off. Who is, is! Who is not, were! Let’s go before they remember to say it’s not enough! We flew over Marovo Lagoon and the Wilderness Lodge and made a video for you to see where we spent the last 6 days diving.
In an instant, night fell! Another 15 minutes and we hadn’t come…
When we arrived in Honiara, we still had to find a taxi to the apartment and find a place for us to have dinner. We remember the delicious pizza we ate at the King Solomon hotel and asked the taxi driver to drop us off. On top of that there’s internet! Top! Come another Hawaiian pizza and a few minutes of free internet, please!
We were sending you messages saying that we had managed to come to Honiara, when an Asian woman, with a western-looking husband, comes to meet us and starts talking as if she’s known us for years! After 5 minutes talking to us and seeing that it wouldn’t shut up so soon, I asked if they wanted to share a table. They said yes right away and slapped their ass there, without beating around the bush or embarrassment! We ended up finding out that she was Thai (we sent our “sawatika” straight away, hello in tai and “capcumca”, thank you) and he was Austrian, married for 1 year and recently living in Fiji, in Suva, the two teachers. It turned out to be a pleasant get-together, with the Thai woman talking through her elbows! Conversation starts conversation, subject starts, travels lead to stories, we had dinner and said goodbye with one until tomorrow, as we intend to go back to dinner at King Solomon to use the net! This time we will try the Thai food that Kosita (so unThai name!) says is great! We took a taxi and ended up at the airbnb apartment, which after a first impression and a quick inspection, doesn’t look too bad. At least it has a mosquito net, which helps us feel safe and protected from mosquitoes.
The airbnb apartment leaves a bit to be desired… the problem is expectations. We saw the photos and in fact it looked much better. When we get here, it’s weaker, it smells damp, there are holes in the screens on the windows and the walls don’t even touch the ceiling! Apparently it’s not bad, it has white walls, white sheets, the mosquito net is white, it has a beige straw mat, we have a private bathroom (full of mosquitoes!) and we even have a patio. They try to do it well, they really do try, but they don’t know how to do it better. This is a clear example of this.
We woke up at 6:00 in the morning and, after getting ready, we left the room to go catch a taxi. The cafe/bar of the house (which is right on top of the beach with a surfer vibe, super cute by the way, and still with WWII bullets and grenades exposed) was still closed. We went to the main gate that faces the street, but it was closed. And now? We looked and looked everywhere and nothing… only after about 3 minutes we noticed that there were 2 people sleeping on the benches in the cafe! We were right next to them and didn’t even see them. Lying down and all covered by a blanket, they were super well disguised! I touched one of them on the shoulder and he didn’t even move… Diogo touched the other and there he managed to wake him up. We asked them to open the gate for us, if they knew any place where we could have breakfast and they said no, just in the city centre. We waited for a taxi to pass and nothing. We started to see buses passing by and we asked which one was going to the center and there we were told to stop one of them. The buses are the same as PNG.
Plan: rent a car, look for a diving center, have breakfast. Problem: Everything is closed! We asked at a gas station for a place to have breakfast (it’s already 7:00 am) and they sent us to a cafe, like Starbucks, where a cappuccino, chocolate milk and 6 banana pancakes cost us 200 Salomon dollars! About €25. But there is a net!! Ah!!! The fast net… what a taste of civilization! I miss you! There we ate, very calmly because we had to wait for 8:00 am for everything to open, we talked to you and there we went to pick up the car at 8:00 am sharp. We ended up not renting a car but a scooter which is much more practical here (there is a lot of traffic in this city and the streets are full of holes) and much cheaper. Right behind the rent-a-car, there was a diving center and in the blink of an eye, we saw all our problems solved!
1:00 am later we were already entering the sea to make the first dive in Bonegi 2. This is sunk on a beach 20km from Honiara, in land that belongs to someone and that person charges about 4€ per head to enter the beach. Bonegi 1 and 2 are sunk side by side, about 1km away. 1 still has the bow outside, with the deepest part at 30 meters. 2 has the deepest part at 60 meters. Both were sunk after the war ended, so that American enemies would not have access to the top secret and super advanced Japanese machinery. Here any beach has an owner and you have to pay an average of €5 in all of them to get in… careiros!
As the 2 is deeper, it has more beautiful coral and more life than the 1. In the 1 we saw more rays and I discovered the gobis that protect the house from the shrimp (remember?) and a super well disguised scorpion fish! I’ve been playing a lot of differences on mobile, to train! I really enjoyed the 2 dives, but Diogo was a little disappointed.
The truth is that the SS Coolidge in Vanuatu was much better. We could go in and see the artefacts and rooms, utensils, all very well preserved. Not here. In addition to being much smaller boats, they are more damaged and we only managed to pass through a hole made by a torpedo. Everything is super dark and narrow, you can’t touch anything. Again, managing expectations… After the dives, we went to lunch at the street market, a Chinese shopping center type place, all fancy, where we taste what we don’t eat in Japan – Japanese curry. We pay +- 25€ for the 2! Then we went to the road and beaches to the northwest, to the same side as the Bonegi’s, where the scenery changes completely. We no longer have potholes and muddy roads to have good roads. We don’t see people, markets, houses, cars… we see palm trees, trees, shacks where they say they sell cold beer, people sitting on tiny porches, sitting on car seats, kids playing football barefoot in the woods, a car that sporadically passes by us and beaches on one side and mountains and plains on the other.
We went to visit an American tank and took lots of pictures! We had to pay 60 Salomon dollars for the 2 (7€) and the owner of the land was with us, to explain everything to us and tell the stories he should tell everyone who goes there. On the way, we passed through brambles and I shaved my leg, getting all spikes on the side of my left leg. Baby potty!!! What pains! There I was taking all the peaks while Diogo explored the tank. We continued on the way. We passed people walking along the road, chickens, pigs and piglets, kids with so much monco in their nose that it was enough for a meal and some “home stays”, one of which we got to see in the booking, the Dolphin View! We ended up going around and going back, because it was starting to get dark and we didn’t want to do these roads at night. Arriving in Honiara, we took a shower and went to dinner at King Solomon.
Our last day in Honiara was spent with no rush, no commitments and basically nothing to do. We had to buy the latest souvenirs, fill a water bottle with sand and wanted to explore the eastern part of the island. It is not possible to go all the way around the island, because there is no road to cross the southern part, not to mention the size of the island that does not allow you to do it in one day. So, we knew we weren’t going far… so, after breakfast (and a short conversation with you, who must all be in preparation for my rich Saint John, which I’m going to fail this year…), we went exploring that side, on our beige scooter!
As for the west side, the landscape changes completely. Much more relaxed and tropical, with some huts and fruit sales stand, palm, coconut and banana plantations and a church from one of the numerous religious sects that abound on the island. We crossed some streams and 2 rivers. When we decide to go back, the bike just stops! It wasn’t a lack of gas, because we had fueled it before we started the trip… With Diogo always insisting on the ignition, without success: “What now?”, I asked. “We’re fucked!” says Diogo. And we were. With no one in sight to turn to and under a hellish sun…
However, a car stopped and a lady came out to help us. When she gets to our edge, the bike starts to work! Miraculously and without any explanation or justification, it took off! She came back just as she left. We thank the lady for her kindness, we said goodbye and continued our journey, with the plan of not stopping anymore until the stand where we rented her! Second problem: rain! The heavy one! Well… when it rains here, it’s not kidding! It’s that rain that hits the body and hurts, thick and heavy. With the displacement of the bike even worse. In less than a minute we were drenched from head to toe! It looked like we had fallen overboard with our clothes on! We wrung the clothes and it looked like a faucet. We were 40 minutes from the stand… in the rain.
But we got there and they exchanged our bike for a much better and more comfortable one. Time to go to lunch. We passed the “Hyundai Mall” and went looking for the food court. Right in front of me was a pharmacy that sold my precious perfume that is sold out everywhere! We brought the 2 packages they had! Yeah!!! I already have perfume for a while! We went to lunch and then came the attack on souvenirs. There is almost nothing fancy in this land, but we found our usual mug! Not bad anymore.
We went to fill the bottle with sand and went to get ready for our last dinner at Salomão. We went to happy hour at the Heritage Hotel and the Austrian and Thai woman went there. At 19:00 we went to dinner again at King Solomon because it was Friday night and it was “pizza day” and there was entertainment. But what animation! Polynesians dancing Hawaiian music, doing tricks with ropes, balls and knives and then came to get people from the public to dance the hula! Thank god they didn’t come get us! Then they cleared the tables and had a band playing and singing. The Aussies (that’s what Australians are called) danced wildly and wildly, as if it were their last day on earth! Just seen!! She plays shaking the bath with her discolored and disheveled hair, with her hideous dresses, singing and waving her arms as if they were drowning. Too much! At least they got their ass out of the chair and had fun… much more than us, who just watched. After exchanging contacts (it’s good to meet someone in Fiji), we said goodbye and went to sleep for tomorrow to start the return journey.