Saturday, 10 August 2013


I’m nervously excited sitting in this tiny plane, with 4 other passengers and a whole heap of bags and fishing rod tubes poking out everywhere.  Not sure the other passengers are too impressed about all the gear onboard as there is very little room as it is.  The plane is so small, I can’t put my arms out to the side, the seat I am in is apparently designed to fit 2 people but I don’t see that happening.  

From memory, we all get a seat to ourselves, I do anyway, and then it’s time to embark on the slowest take-off I have ever experienced.  At one point I thought we were going backwards!  But the views are spectacular from start to finish.  From the mountains, jungle, rivers and villages of Guadalcanal to the myriad of different size and shaped coral fringed, jungle and palm tree clad islands dotting the deep blue ocean, it is all a marvel to look down upon.

Landing the plane is just another of part of the adventure.  I can see what I think is our island coming up (many many hours spent on Google earth) but you’d never know it as there doesn’t appear to be a runway.   But sure enough we are descending and ‘coming in to land’ and it really looks as if the pilot is just aiming for the jungle with a hope and a prayer! 

 Just when you thought you were a goner, the thick jungle canopy disappears and we drop down onto a rough field that has only now become visible and pull up before hitting the jungle at the other end of the ‘runway’.   I take a deep breath as the plane comes to a halt and the door opens for disembarkation.   This is the day I have been waiting for….

It is all very casual as I step out onto the field, we later learn that the whole strip is hand cut to keep the grass down,  there are no lawnmowers on Ramata Island.   I begin to wonder if I’m in the right place, but soon enough I am greeted by a lady with a huge smile and a couple of quiet, muscle bound young guys.  Pretty much all the blokes in the Solomon’s were ripped like you would see in a professional fighter, simply due to the hard lifestyle and everyday work.  

 The lady is Betty and she is the overseer and mother figure of Mavo Lodge, also quite a character.   I feel terrible as she tells me the whole camp had waited on that field the entire day before when we were supposed to arrive, for a huge welcoming ceremony.   I have to explain that the other 2 boys won’t be here until that afternoon.

Soon there are more staff up on the field to greet me and help with all the gear, they all seem very friendly but extremely shy.   After a couple of days of observing us shyly from a distance and little bits of chit chat, they all start to open up and we really get know everybody.  

 Kenny grabs at least 2 of the bags on his shoulders and they weigh over 60kg between them,  he is a funny bugger, possibly not all there, and his English is almost non-existent.  This doesn’t stop him bumming smokes off us every chance he got, but he was never without a huge grin on his face and was really good value.
The plane we fly in on...

The 'terminal'

I will just add that these are not my pictures, but pulled from google images