Pleasantly lost in time and space

Posted on October, 25 2014

Wattaem nao distaem?
Whenever I go somewhere in a different time zone, I unconsciously keep track of the time in my hometown so I know how jet lagged I will feel. Most of the time I feel jet lagged only because I think I should be. Going to Solomon Islands was a different story -- 23 hours of flight time, 3 hour layovers in LA and Brisbane, and a time difference of 15 hours upon arrival.  Between the random bouts of sleep and the in-flight meals being served at obscure hours, I was too confused to calculate my jet lag.

At any rate, I finally arrived at this Kingdom of Far Far Away.  This week I went through orientation in Honiara, which has served quite nicely as a buffered transition to Gizo (where I will be situated for my 6 month assignment). I've been put up in the Honiara Hotel, fully loaded with AC, hot water, and a pool, and I've been dining at touristy cafes and restaurants. Yet, there are still some important things I have learned thus far:

1. When you see a car heading towards you, pick up the pace -- pedestrians do not have the right of way.

2. Don't assume there's toilet paper or hand soap in the bathroom.

3. That red stuff everywhere is from people spitting betel nut. 

4. Giant cockroaches run across the floor at warp speed.

5. Geckos sound like dolphins.

Most importantly, I have been learning how to speak the local language Pijin. The first few days of orientation were dedicated to Pjiin lessons from the amazingly patient Jonathan Aba. Everything in Pijin is spelt phonetically and is very close to English -- it is often thought of as broken English. Some examples:

I am very happy to talk to you. = Mi hapi tumas fo toktok wetem iu.
What time is it now? = Wattaem nao distaem?
Where do you work? = Wea nao iu waka?

In addition to language lessons, I've started some work on a new grant opportunity to further turtle conservation efforts in Solomon Islands. Mi happi tumas fo boss blong mi givem waka; but, thank god for the weekend. Exploration time. I went to the Honiara Central Market with a super nice gentleman visiting from the WWF office in Melbourne, Australia; and my Pijin teacher took me around the island to see some of the rural towns and landscape. 


Tomorrow I will be flying to Gizo for the WWF-Solomon Islands strategic planning sessions. While I am excited to participate (or, more realistically, serve as notetaker), I am probably more excited to finally get settled in at the house I will be living in for the next 6 months. Stay tuned for photos of my new crib. 

Rachel Wang

WWF-Solomon Islands
​October 2014 - April 2015
Honiara Central Market
© WWF / Rachel Wang

Related links

Honiara Central Market
© WWF / Rachel Wang
Flora in the rural landscape of Honiara
© WWF / Rachel Wang
Jonathan Aba's shipyard in Honiara
© WWF / Rachel Wang