Pacific Arts Festival, Solomon Is. style
02 July 2012 | Point Cruz Harbor
Sunday, July 1 marked the opening of the 11th Pacific Arts Festival being held here in Honiara, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. How fantastic to be here for such a significant event, and we just witnessed a rare occasion of fireworks to end the ceremony that several thousand people jammed into the local soccer stadium for, and the roar was so outrageous that it raised the hairs on my neck and gave me goosebumps from over a mile away! In America we take fireworks for granted, and as Independence Day approaches there on the 4th and here on the 7th of July, there will hopefully be more to enjoy. Maybe the Chinese are subsidizing it!!! Apparently this morning there was a huge display of fireworks on the waterfront near "The Village", the centerpoint of the Arts Festival location, AT FIVE AM!!! Unfortunately the activities are not widely publicized and despite our digging and probing and today's googling for a schedule online, nothing is posted anywhere, although I doubt we could've been roused for fireworks at 5AM no matter how awesome! The best way to find out about the events appears to be asking a volunteer working at the festival. We'll see if we can get out of here without any more tribal tattoos...
So yesterday at the Point Cruz Yacht Club where there's a small beach shared between the yacht club and the panga style fishing boats, although a fence divides it, a HUGE crowd gathered to welcome the six Vaka Traditional Craft arriving from their last stop of Vanuatu. These vessels are flagged from Hawaii (which provided an interesting topic of discussion for Morgan who noticed they should have had an American flag to go with the Hawaiian one like the Marquesans had the French Polynesian flag to go with theirs), Marquesas (French Polynesia), Easter Island (Chile), Samoa, Vanuatu, and Fiji. They have been sailing across the Pacific Ocean through several countries to promote awareness for healthy oceans, and with the participation of several different countries have apparently raised a lot of awareness for the local populations in those small countries where they stopped. This was the final destination, and upon landing at the yacht club beach, each vessel stopped to sing their anthem and perform a custom dance according to their traditional customs. Allen and I hopped onto our SUPboards and paddled out to take photos, and there were two women in Polynesian style dresses out on a jetty singing as the boats came in, and we could see they kept lifting their arms. Upon closer inspection they were actually using string and making all kinds of fantastic creations just the same way the boys do Jacob's ladder, Eiffel Tower, soldier's cot, and other string tricks. It must be where this kid game originated, something I'd never have expected it to have possibly originated from. The boys however, were not so impressed.
They were most impressed after we left the yacht club and wandered through town, ending up at the King Solomon Hotel's swimming pool, which is built into the hillside with waterfalls and multi terraced patios in a jungle like setting, and we were impressed with the classical guitarist and vocalist and the opportunity to visit with other foreigners. We even met the hotel owner, a very animated Australian man, who graciously offered us use of the weight room and pool any time. We returned this evening for pizza, which we have been craving, and they actually have a wood fire oven that bakes crispy and delicious little pizzas. YUM!
As of Saturday morning here in the harbor after our arrival back to Honiara on Friday afternoon, we met our friendly neighbor who doesn't live aboard but keeps a catamaran anchored here. He is Australian and his family was coming out day sailing, so we met the wife and two boys. They invited us over to their lovely home on a high hillside near "The Village" for the festival, and we enjoyed dinner and visiting while the kids played together. It's such a relief when kids can run and play like crazy and not be underfoot at all, unlike on a boat! What a treat! They even offered for us to bring our laundry, but we didn't want to do that the first time we ever visited them! Today we took them up on the offer though and used their monster machine for the first time that some of my laundry has ever had a hot wash, and the heat coming up the mountainside was so hot and dry that the hanging clothes were dry in no time. The low humidity was quite nice!
Tomorrow morning there is a special children's program at the national museum, and we will have the company of our Australian friends' two boys, Ned and Herb (3 and almost 6), who are actually having their first ever sleep over aboard Love Song! After that, who knows, but we still have to go to the Vilu War Museum, and will probably stay for the Solomon Islanders' Independence Day celebration. It will be a doozie since the festival is at the same time. Then we plan to go back to Roderick Bay for a few more days, then off to the Western Province to the city of Ghizo. That's written in sand, of course. Wish you were here!