Solomon Islands 7, Honiara

Honiara, the town founded by Japanese forces  when building Henderson airport during World War II in 1942, has also places of beauty and interest. One of these places is a coffeehouse located on the waterfront. It is visited by many expatriates. The coffeehouse closes at 3 pm, which means that the entrance gate to the alley leading to the parking lot also closes at this time. One day, I arrived several minutes after 3 pm at the gate. The gatekeeper did not let me in to meet Ale. I had to wait 30 minutes until Ale drove out. The extremes of no rules with chaos and absolut rules without exceptions seem to exist side by side in Honiara.



Breakwater Coffeehouse


Beside Breakwater Coffeehouse stands the National art gallery of the Solomon Islands. I did not see any name on the building and asked a group of young people where it is located. “No idea” they said. Then I walked to one of the art booths beside the street and asked a woman where the art gallery was. She pointed to the house the group of young men were standing by and said “it is this building, but there is nothing in it! Every art is on the street”. Her words made me even more curious and I walked in. The building was full of art pieces by local artists.



The Last Drop from Heaven by Nelson Horipua


The above art piece especially touched my heart, as it expresses the huge environmental problem the nation of Solomon Islands is facing. 70% of the GNP is coming from logging. The land belongs to the natives. For many of them, logging is the only income. They do not see the consequences of their actions. Flora and fauna of the jungle is destroyed and the soil becomes loose and is making the rivers muddy. The muddy waters of the rivers come to the ocean and destroy the world’s most beautiful coral reefs. The whole world has to wake up to this disaster. Here is the statement of the artist:


Creatures of the earth

crying out because

their ecosystem is poisened

by man’s greed for development

the air, sea and land

is polluted with toxic chemicals

trees chopped mercilessly

for profit to sustain man’s

hunger for wealth

rivers polluted

a result of industrialization

in the village, life rolls on

people laughing, dancing and having fun

polluting their environment

“Leaf bloakwa no more” they shout

little they know

their action is

a grave waiting its fill

Here comes the final drop from Heaven

a drop that quenches

no human thirst and hunger

because human greed

had had its fill




Not every art piece was pointing to the problems of the Solomon Islands and the world. The painting down below tells a mythological love story. It also shows how connected the people of the islands are with their environment.


The Healing Dream by artist Aldio Pita from the Western Islands, Marovo Lagoon.  (In Marovo Lagoon, we stayed for 5 days – a truly magical place).




Along the street outside of the National Art Gallery, local artists sold their craft like hand woven baskets, many carvings out of coconut trees, ebony or rosewood and jewellery.



This warrior god was mounted on the head of the canoe when a group of warriors was on a head hunting mission.  During the times when head hunting was still the norm, the god was holding a human head. With Christianity arriving, the head was replaced by a bird, a symbol for peace. Characteristic for this sculpture are the wide, open eyes. During the head hunting mission, one warrior had to stand in the front of the canoe with spear and shield and was not allowed to close his eyes. In case this happened, the god took over the wakefulness. Falling asleep was considered a bad omen.





A couple



Another popular art theme I saw in Honiara was tattoos, especially in the faces of women. The woman I was allowed to make a photo of came from Malaita. She told me that her tattoo was made when she was a little child as a mark for which tribe she belongs to.








During the time I stayed in Honiara, we often went to the Central Market to go shopping for fresh vegetables, fruit and fish. People also sold shell money there; it is still a way to pay in some parts of the Solomon Islands. Shell money is made in Malaita in the traditional way of cutting the shells with sharp stones into small pieces. The most expensive pieces have a reddish color. Women in the market make their necklaces and wedding decorations while waiting for customers.




The main food production on the Solomon Islands is Coconuts. The coconut tree is endangered by the Rhinoceros beetle killing the tree. With that, the people loose their main income. Lorenz started an awareness compaign to cut and burn the sick coconut trees by employing a local music group that sings a song about this Rhinoceros beetle, which is broadcasted in radio stations.










Many things are sold in little heaps









Shell money





Shell money





I tried on a wedding crown, a beautiful piece of art


Out of curiosity, I went into some stores in the business district of Honiara. Almost every store is owned by a Chinese person. That person sits on a high platform or chair and overlooks the store while locals are working and shopping. The Chinese are resented in Honiara, but they have a near monopoly on the stores. Most of the ships I saw in the harbour were former Chinese ships and still have Chinese inscriptions.





They offer cheap products for the locals. I did not see one quality store in Honiara



When walking through town, I liked to read the signs in Pidgin English.









This is an inscription on a cigarette package stating that smoking makes you blind. I did not see so many smokers. Betel nut seems to be more popular. Alcohol is a big problem. There is a saying on the Island: ‘When you see a car driving straight, be careful!” With so many holes, the cars do not stay on the left side but constantly change in order to avoid the holes. A drunken person cannot do it anymore.

Born and raised in a village along the Danube in Austria, Traude Wild soon ventured out into the world. After a two-year program for tourism in Klesheim/Salzburg, she spent nearly a year in South Africa and Namibia. By returning back to Austria, she acquired a Master of Economics at the University of Vienna. After moving to the United States with her four children, she studied Art History at Arizona State University and stayed in the United States for fourteen years. Here, she was teaching Art History in several Universities like Webster University and University of Missouri-St. Louis. Now, she lives partially in Arizona and Vienna and works together with her husband for the University of South-Carolina, Moore School of business as Adjunct Professor organising and leading Study tours in Central Europe. She also teaches at the Sigmund Freud University in Vienna. Since 1999, she is practicing Zen meditation in the lineage of Katagiri Roshi. She loves to hike and to write and is a student of Natalie Goldberg. During her often many weeks long hikes she brings her awareness into the Here and Now, describing her experiences in an authentic way. She loves to walk pilgrimages. The longest hike so far was the 1,400 km long 88 Temple pilgrimage in Shikoku, Japan in 2016.

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