SO NEAR, AND YET… SO NEAR indeed. A group of Pacific islands north-east from Australia, just close enough to Papua New Guinea to pop over and borrow a cup of sugar, and barely a three-hour flight away from Brisbane, the Solomon Islands beckon the adventurous – the traveller who doesn’t need to be coddled, who has forgotten what a genuine welcome and a shy smile feels like.
The Solomons are home to 650,000 people, on major islands and, at last count, 900 small ones. Some are unpopulated and others house small tribal communities, rustic villages and even schools, hospitals, and touristic concerns, with all these connected entities separated into ten provinces.
After an easy flight from Brisbane, I landed in the middle of a 37-degree steamy afternoon on Guadalcanal.