Robin's Adventures

Tales of the South Pacific
A Tropical Island Adventure

At Home on Guadalcanal

Most residents of the island live in small traditional villages and sustain themselves by raising chickens and pigs, as well as by growing fruits and vegetables. Communities near the ocean fish and gather shellfish as their major source of protein.

It is interesting to note that most homes have a raised threshold in order to keep pigs from entering the house.

At Work on Guadalcanal

Small tables with umbrellas or rickety wooden lean-tos with produce or small consumer items were abundant throughout Guadalcanal. In addition, the children, who have spent their free time searching for leftover shell casings from World War II, come running when they see a tour bus in order to make a sale.

We found it somewhat ironic that Americans were buying back American ammunition that we had previously abandoned there more than 70 years ago.

Getting Around the Island

While driving around the island, we noticed some interesting transportation being utilized by the natives. First, we saw two small boys that were having an adventure in a strange boat. Then we noted that large flat trucks appeared to be used as bus transportation, even for school children.

Guadalcanal American Memorial

On the 50th anniversary of the Guadalcanal Campaign, August 7, 1992, this memorial was established on the top of the first hill on the island that was occupied by US forces.

The Gudalcanal Campaign, which was particularly costly to both the Americans and the Japanese in terms of loss of lives, also was responsible for the loss of large numbers of warships and fighter planes.

In what was the longest campaign of the Pacific War, the Japanese withdrew after six months of combat on the land, in the sea, and in the air.

This decisive battle would become a turning point in the war and the defeated Japanese General, Kiyotake Kawaguchi, would later remark that Guadalcanal was "the graveyard of the Japanese Army."

Welcome to Samarai Island

Samarai Island, which was a major port and the administrative capital of Papua New Guinea until 1968, has an area of 70 acres and a population of about 460 people.

Since the port and the government offices moved off of the island, however, many of the buildings in the town have fallen into a state of disrepair.

The people on the island were happy to be hosting visitors and we were met at the decaying wharf by some of the local children who performed tribal music and danced for us.

People at Work and at Play

The atmosphere on the island is very relaxed and the "main street" is a grassy footpath. Traffic and rush hour have no meaning to the people who live on Samarai Island.

Curious children stood in the garden or peaked out of windows to get a glimpse of the people who had come to visit their island.

Island Hot Spots

There was a sign on a tree near the center of town asking people to keep the island clean for the arrival of our cruise ship.

As we meandered down the footpath, we passed the school and all of the children came out to greet us and sing a couple of songs to welcome us to the island.

A little further down the path we came across the island clinic. The medical practitioner told us that the most common issue that she deals with on the island is malaria, which is apparently a common problem for the island residents.

Local Housing

Housing on the island, which must have been quite nice when it was originally built, seemed to have difficulty standing up to the tropical weather conditions and was not in the best condition.

Fabulous Flowers

The tropical climate, however, provided wonderful conditions for some beautiful flowering plants. We saw the water rose apple or Syzygium samarangense, orange and yellow Gloriosa flowers, the spider lily or Hymenocallis littoralis, the Hibiscus flower or hibiscus rosa-sinensis, and the Blue Sky Vine or Thunbergia grandiflora.

Tropical Paradise

Overhead, a majestic Osprey or Pandion haliaetus watched us move across the island.

Below our feet, along the side of the trail, we saw different varieties of bracket fungi growing on fallen logs.

There were also numerous banana trees in the village. It was interesting to see how the bananas were wrapped in dried leaves so they could ripen on the tree.