Welkom lo Solomon Aelans

Volcanic masses rise out of the ocean, covered in a mass of green interspersed by coconut trees.

Fringed around these islands are reefs of the most exquisite fish and coral you may have ever seen.

I am sitting on a beach, on a weekend escape, trying to take it all in.

Suddenly a wooden dugout canoe comes into view, being expertly steered by a small blonde haired boy.

Making it look easy he cuts through the water staying in a straight line and  gazing out into the open ocean.

Sliding the canoe onto the white sand of the shore I ask him in my limited Pijin if I can have a go.

He smiles shyly, hands me the paddle and runs off to watch from behind a tree.

Two capsizes later and I am on my way, going in circles as I try to keep the canoe straight and myself out of the water.

I take a moment to breath and take it all in.

I am sitting in a traditional dugout canoe, with small volcanic islands around me and crystal clear blue water below me, the sun is shining and I just realised that I live here.

I live in the Solomon Islands.

This is real life, reality, now.

Back in Honiara, the capital city, the dust is starting to become overwhelming, with no rain for the last few weeks.

It scatters at my feet as I make the walk to work each morning.

Along a ridge where I can see into the rolling valleys framed by dark blue mountains in the distance.

Out of my gate and into the street I begin the walk to work with my morning ritual: saying hello to everyone I meet.

Solomon Islanders are friendly and smile a lot but are for the most part shy at first.

A quick glance, a shy smile, a nod of the head or a raise of the eyebrows and we continue past each other.

Each moment a short connection that I savour each morning.

The school children run past, sometimes putting on their school shirts as they go and smile and wave.

A brave one might say good morning.

A truck goes past, roaring down the road attempting to miss the potholes that create a maze along the roads from the rains.

In the back of the tray are at least 20 young people, all waving and smiling at me on their way to work.

White mini buses roll past, reggae music floating out of them.

I walk further down the hill and past the beetle nut sellers, selling the green nut at small wooden stalls, a nut that is plucked from the tops of the coconut trees.

The locals here chew the nut and when combined with a lime substance it turns the mouth red, and the streets too when they spit it out.

Passing along the main road now I say good morning to more people, wave at more school children on the backs of trucks and marvel at all of the brilliant and unique hair styles that people have.

Some of the people here from the Malaita Province have naturally blonde hair, and I love it.

I am literally obsessed with it.

By now I have passed two horses that are randomly tied up eating grass each morning on the side of the road as well as countless dogs.

Storm clouds are gathering around the mountains in the distance and the sweet smell of impending rain is intoxicating.

Could this be the rain we have been waiting for?

The only negative about an afternoon downpour is that it will interrupt my afternoon purchase of a fresh coconut to drink.

But in this beautiful country that I now call home, everything is possible.

So it will most likely rain and I will drink my coconut too today.

*I will be writing about my time in the Solomon Islands exclusively for Pink Pangea as a Foreign Correspondent. You can read it all here*

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