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There's someone outside my window

Posted on 26 March 2015

Do you have nothing better to do?!
Alright. I think now is as good a time as any to get into the cultural differences here in Solomon Islands compared to back home. And by "differences" I mean "seriously questionable cultural norms".

--- First, and foremost: the creeping.
Solomon Islands has the most endemic bird species and creepsters per land area in the world. I'm not saying that guys stick wires through window mesh/ bars to pull aside curtains so they can creep on women in their rooms, but…oh wait, yes I am! That is exactly what I am saying. If the culprit is not so bold, they might just stand outside your window the whole night behind the curtains. Like my roommate Sara says: "do you have nothing better to do?!" Apparently not.

I was asking my local friend about this and he said that it is quite common in Choiseul Province, where that is actually how some men court women. If they are lucky, the woman will invite them in. That does not sound right.

We had a heavy rainfall (aka lots of noise) the other night. In the morning, Sara told me to go look at the shower drain - it was completely detached. I told this to a local woman and she proceeded to tell me a story of her own - much worse than mine. One night with heavy rainfall, a creeper broke into her house and lay down beside her so that he was on one side and her husband was on the other. The creeper kept trying to pull her towards him until she realized he wasn't her husband. As soon as she shouted out, the creeper jumped out the window.

Most of the creepsters are young, adolescent boys. So, maybe it's the low employment opportunities for youth in this country? I find that even those kids that go to school still struggle to find work. Though, many of them lack general ambition or motivation to do anything. Exhibit A: my friend came by the office to get some movies from my hard drive. I gave him eight movies. Two days later, he said that he finished all of them and wanted some more. Movies all day errday! Exhibit B: I asked another friend (well-educated, smart guy) what he was doing tomorrow. He shrugs his shoulders, gives me a coy smile and says "same thing as today, just hang around the house". Granted, there are a lot of things to do around the house - chop fire wood, climb coconut trees, do laundry, weed the garden - but, still.

--- Now for dating, the bullet points:
• You get a girl pregnant, her village comes after you and your family for compensation
Friend #1: "I stopped dating this girl because if we got married or had a child, my family would have had to give compensation to her village. This village is the same one my mom's ex-husband is from (who had beaten her), so I didn't want to put my mom in that situation."

• Domestic violence is alright
Friend #2: "I'm going to chat with my husband (the wrestler) for a bit."
Me: "The wrestler?"
Friend #2: "Yeah, because he beats me."
Me: "Oh, ok. Wait, WHAT?!" 

• Gilbertese girls are easy (unfortunately, sometimes I am mistaken for a Gilbertese because of my long hair)
Hotel worker: "My boss wants to meet you. He owns the Gizo hotel and would like to talk to you."
Me: "Huh?"
Hotel worker: "Lots of girls are interested in him. He's from Australia. Come with me and I will introduce you."
Me: "Oh, this is for real. Hahahaha, no. Happy NYE."

• Everyone lives at home with their families so fornication occurs in the bush
Friend #3: "Before they cleared this cliff for the prison site, it used to be a very popular place for frolicking."
Me: "Frolicking - interesting word choice."

--- What's with the unsustainable harvest?! Sure, a lot of it can be attributed to a lack of awareness or the need to feed your family. But, those reasons only go so far. Between diving and snorkeling, I've only seen 2 turtles in Solomon Islands. The last one was this past week and it was a hawksbill turtle (an endangered species throughout its Pacific range). I regret to say that I did not see this turtle in the water. My friend and I were at the beach and saw a man holding a hawksbill by its flipper. Just as my friend turns to me and says "don't worry, I think it's a pet and he's cleaning it", the man slams it on the ground. NOT A PET. There was a gleam of enjoyment in his eyes that was like no other. I understand that the larger, more charismatic animals are usually on the receiving end of human empathy, but combine that with one being endangered and tortured and you've got a teary-eyed girl who never cries. We left before the man cut it up with the kids watching in excitement. I wasn't about to walk up to him and say: "Excuse me, large man with knife in hand, this is unsustainable harvesting. Put it back." So, this cowardice girl turned a blind eye and went home. Now I'm depressed again. RIP lil hawksy.

Rachel Wang

WWF-Solomon Islands 
October 2014 - April 2015

N.b. My housemate has malaria and possibly dengue. Positive thoughts for her to get better soon.

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