02 Mar 2018

Gizo, Solomon Islands


East of Papau New Guinea is Solomon Islands (not The Solomon Islands) where we have spent the last two days. 

Yesterday we were rained out of Guadalcanal. There is not much there anyway except for a nice WW II War Memorial.

Today is Gizo, the second largest town in Solomon Islandswith  just over 6,000 inhabitants. It is on Ghizo Island, and yes they are spelled differently.





The people here seem so much happier and in a better place than the Papau New Guinea group. They were smiling, singing, not malnourished and all seem to have some place to go and something to do.



I mean it is not The Ritz, but it was really lovely.

This area of Solomon Islands has had a history of headhunting, so much so that local tribes joined together to obliterate the Gizo tribe. It ceased about 1899.

That event led to Ghizo Island being declared as a property of the state, rather than the usual customary ownership prevalent in much of the rest of the Solomons.

One of the cruisers bought a little trinket, accidentally left her iPad, and boarded the tender (a tender is a cruiseline lifeboat that the ships use to transport people between the ship and shore when anchored) to head back to the ship. Moments later the vendor saw it and ran back to the tender to return it to her. Impressive.



Notice the food in their local market. (See yesterday's blog).

28 Feb 2018

Katava, Papau New Guinea




Different days call for different activities such as culture, education, shopping and even eating. Today the beach was calling.




I chartered  ($2) Allyn a yacht to head across to a small island that had great snorkeling.


Many medical researchers consider Katavans as having the healthiest people on the planet. There is practically no acne, diabetes, cardiovascular disease leading to stroke or congestive heart failure, dementia or blood pressure problems among the native Kitavans.

They think it is diet because it is not related to genetics as genetically similar groups who eat an abundance of industrial food appear to be susceptible to the degenerative diseases of the West. Also exercise is not a likely cause of the exceptional health on Kitava as an average Kitavan is only slightly more physically active.

The Kitavan diet comprises an abundance of foods that have a low glycemic index rating and that are rich in soluble fiber, magnesium, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids.


27 Feb 2018

Alotau, Papua New Guinea Part 2 of 2


Papau New Guinea info - It occupies the eastern half of New Guinea which is the second largest island in the world behind Greenland.

Only 18% of the people live in urban areas. That is flip flop of USA for example where over 80% live in urban areas.

They have 852 known languages.

Although they are close to the Equator, they get snow.





We were lucky to spend significant time in Shanniah Loihai's (our guide) own home to actually see how they live as well as hear about it. Keep in mind that this is an industrious hard-working entrepreneurial family, yet they have no electricity, plumbing, or water. The kitchen is on a dirt floor. The outdoor fire area is where hot cooking is done. 


They just built the bridge across the little river to accommodate tourists like ourselves. They used to just traverse the water which gets many feet hight in the wet season.



They installed a deluxe outhouse for guests that they will be bringing by.


This is the neighbor's house.


Her brother is doing wall renovation.


The family has a coconut drying facility where they take the coconut, shed the skin, cut it open, dry it, take out the meat and sell it. It takes about 500 of them and a couple weeks of labor to generate a few dollars.


This is a cannibal sphere. They are carved out of palm. The jagged points facing in are to pull the enemy person in by his long hair. The sphere is then plunged into the body. It makes for a nice fresh meal.

26 Feb 2018

Alotau, Papua New Guinea Part 1 of 2


Some ports seem like it is not even worth getting off the ship and then about once a cruise one of those ends up being among the best of the trip. That describes our day today in Alotau, Papua New Guinea.

After considerable Internet research I hired Shanniah Loihai, a 20 year old girl who started Reeftours Milne Bay about six years ago. Boy is she a diamond in the rough.



Papua New Guinea is a true third word country and we saw it from the inside today unlike other excursions. Most of the tourists just see superficial examples of what locals think the tourists want to see (like above). It is kind of fun though.



First off was a visit to their world famous yacht marina. (That is a joke.)




Then it was a walk around the open air Transit Hotel. Here people stay in carport type areas that are separated by tribe.



Notice the red teeth. This is from chewing betel nut. People get high on it  but it causes significant oral cancer. Besides the buzz it supposedly suppresses hunger and these folks barely eat one meal a day. Sad. All over town people are just sitting or standing with no place to go and nothing to do.



If they have a courthouse available, we visit it.



The main street in town is one block long with a few stores on each side.



During WW II Alotau was made famous because here, Milne Bay, is where the Japan forces had their very first land defeat. It was a turning point in the War in these parts.The Australian Army gets the credit. There is not much to see unfortunately. Many of our friends really only experienced this stop by visiting a plaque.




Now it really got special. We visited a local school. They have no power, water, or plumbing. All the kids walk and many 5 miles each way. Yet they were so sweet and immaculate.  

Stay tuned for part II tomorrow where we will visit Shanniah's actual home and small village. They also have no water, power or plumbing and mostly dirt floors. Plus I will have some interesting Papua New Guinea facts.

24 Feb 2018

Cooktown, Australia 2018



We are in far Northwest Australia in Cooktown, founded by (you guessed it) James Cook. For those of us geographically impaired Americans that means we are far east and very far north, almost a vertical line from Melbourne in the South. It is hot and humid (96%) and tropical here as we move north towards the equator.



Not every day needs to be heavy duty sightseeing. Today we opted just to visit two locations in the same vicinity. First we want to Black Mountain. Formed 240,000,000 years ago it is way older than yesterday's rainforest. It is a collection of immense black granite boulders.

That is a big deal in itself. However they hiss, people disappear, cattle herds have disappeared, other weird things happen here and the natives just stay away.

We were driving there in a coach while it was raining so hard out that we had no visibility. Right as we stopped, the rain stopped for our 10 minute stop. As soon as we rebounded, it started pouring again. Strange!



Then for lots of fun we stopped at the world famous (at least Queensland famous) 100 year old Lions Den for some much needed refreshing beer. 



I really like their gutter/downspout system.