We spent the weekend on Savo, the volcanic island that dominates sea views from Honiara and has been beckoning all of us since we first arrived. Me and the kids came over with our friend Jeremy on Friday morning. Louise joined us on Friday evening, in a celebratory mood after her first ever day doing Court of Appeal work. We had planned for a quiet weekend but word gets out quickly in this town, and a whole host of others ended up joining Louise on the Friday evening boat.
Savo in Pictures
Unfortunately I didn’t bring the camera so these images will have to suffice. Firstly, the approach to Savo by outboard motor looks like this:
Savo is volcanic, and it is possible to walk up to the vocanic crater which looks like this:
Savo is famous for its megapode birds, which have very large feet and distinctive egg-laying habits:
Savo is also famous for its dolphins. A large pod live right by the resort and are readily seen.
Savo has a waterfall you can visit:
The dolphins were pretty cool. We’d all seen them before so the good part was not so much the uniqueness of the experience as the chance to see the same group repeatedly in different situations. Also, they were tricksters, which was amusing. To begin with, hired motorboat tours to go and see them invariably failed to find any. This was no big deal for me and the kids – they greeted the boat upon our arrival on Friday morning, and I snorkelled with them for a brief perod before they swam off, so that box was well and truly ticked, even before they came back several times later in the morning. But those who arrived on Friday evening did not know whether they were going to see any. Saturday morning’s tour failed to find any. It came to a head on Saturday afternoon, when some of the group tore off across the bay on another extra chartered tour, bragging about how many they were going to see. No sooner had they rounded the headland than the whole pod came and swam right in front of the resort about 100 meters offshore and perfomed acrobatic tricks.
I hurled myself into a canoe at this point and paddled out to be with them (they don’t swim off unless you are actually in the water, for some reason). I pursued them out into the bay for a bit and then sat scanning the horizon, unaware that I had been led on by a decoy group and that the rest had doubled back and were now behind me, closer to the shore than before. This was pretty funny for those warching from the shore, I’m told. Then eventually I paddled right into the pod and they were leaping about on either side of me for about five minutes before they headed off again. The tour group came back and caught the last few minutes of the display. They were livid when they worked out what had happened. That was the last we saw of the dolphins, but we saw quite a few manta rays and billfish in the bay after that. It was generally pretty awesome.
The Megapode Birds
Savo seems to be home to a couple of the lamest guided tours in the developing world. We didn’t actually go on any because we were too lazy, which I now regret because they sound truly tragi-comic and surreal.
Those that went on it described the megapode tour as follows: firstly, you have to get up at about 5.30 am to be bundled off in a motorboat to some remote village to see the creatures’ famous egg-laying habits. They lay their eggs in hot volcanic sand, you see, up to 33 degrees in some cases? Except that you don’t actually get to see this because they are in a special fenced-off area to keep the tourists out, and at no time can you get closer to them than about 200 meters away. And even if you could, all you would see was a chicken-sized grey bird with slightly oversized feet.
Then the tour guides dig the famous egg out of the famous hole in the sand. It is a perfectly ordainary temperature and the egg is a perfectly ordinary egg which you could easily mistake for that of a chicken. While you stare at this, wondering why it is considered in any way special and noteworthy, the local people come to stare at the crazy white person who has come all this way just to see an egg dug out of a hole. Who started the whole tradition off? Was it the tourists, or the locals? You can make your own lame joke here if you want but I’m not going to spell it out for you.
Once again, we didn’t go on this walk, but were regaled with tales of its lameness as we lazed around in the hammocks out the front of the resort. This time you walk for about 45 minutes in the sweltering heat, picturing soome sparkling cascade as your reward, only to find a pool about the size of the averge sauna tub and about three meters of slightly dirty water trickling into it. Then everyone stands around and watches enviously as you immerse yoursef in the trickle, after which it is your turn to watch the rest of the group go under, one by one. Meanwhile the tour guides point out to you sites of local interest, such as a very old tree, or an irrigation pipe. More locals stare in discreet wonder at why anyone would come all this way to take a wash when they had the sea right by them to begin with. Then you trudge back down again.
OK, so there’s what we didn’t do. What did we do? The kids went native for hours on playing with local people and other kids, while we slept, read, went snorkelling and canoeing and generaly just sort of hung about. Its cheap as anything so we’re going back there soon enough, this time with a camera, so you an see what it’s realy like.