When you go to a place to offer help it's easy to fall into the trap of looking for what needs to be done.

As I depart the Solomon Islands at the end of my six months volunteer assignment with New Zealand's Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) the things I have enjoyed about this country are crowding my mind.

One of them is just how interconnected New Zealand and the Solomon Islands are.

Only this morning, a Solomon Island woman kindly offered me a ride part way to my work. My short chat with Cathy revealed she had gone to school at Waikato Diocesan School in Hamilton, a stone's throw from where I grew up.

We probably only missed meeting on the sports field - we both played hockey for our high schools - by the slight gap in our ages.

From these lovely islands across the Pacific from our own, these are a few of my favourite things. 

Cold drinking coconuts. Slice the top off and quench your thirst. Da bomb.

Red parrots, green parrots, tiny humming birds, butterflies everywhere, some the size of birds, glorious geckos running about the house and cleaning up the smaller insects so we don't have to bother.

Buses. They are 15-seater vans to you and me but buses in Honiara. It's $3 (less than a NZ$1) anywhere you want to go no matter how far you want to go.

And if you miss one (usually too crowded) there literally will be another along in a minute.

A simple but effective public transport system all based on private enterprise.

Love those hustling conductors, too, who never miss a prospective passenger.

Snorkelling! The Solomons are a diver's mecca but I am a very happy snorkeler and the rewards have been tremendous.

Coral gardens, the gloriously coloured rival of any land creation. Nature does it best.

And fish galore, from striped clown fish in their anemone lairs to transparent needle fish sitting barely seen just below the surface to multi-hued coral trout and dark shapes in the deep.

Alas no dugong sighted. Nor any crocodiles. Yay!

The view from my house. Across the Death Row betel nut stand and my neighbours closely planted vegetable patch, over the community of cheek-by-jowl houses in the valley community from where the singing wafts up on a Sunday from the school hall-cum-church, across the city, out past the busy port to the ocean and, on a clear day, the islands of Savo and Ngella.

An ever changing scene through sunny weather and torrential rain that has shown me something new every time I have gazed from my verandah or glanced through my window.

But, oh, the people. My morning walk to work is a series of smiling gud morning, gud morning, gud mornings, and my afternoon return a debate between me and my greeters on whether it is aftanun or ivining.

Where exactly does around 4pm sit?

Thank you Solomon Islanders for your many kindnesses, your generosity, your company, your laughter, for what you have shared with me and for letting me into your lives.

You are deservedly proud of your country. May you live long and prosper.

-Philippa Stevenson is an award winning journalist and a former agricultural editor for the Waikato Times. 


Source: https://www.stuff.co.nz