Tomorrow (God willing and weather permitting), I will board a plane for
Honiara, leaving Buala.
I packed my large bag and had it all ready for my colleagues to take on
their flight on Saturday. I was going to hike to Tiratonga with Cliff. A
lovely day's outing. Around 9am, it started to sprinkle and by the time I
made it over to the RAMSI compound it was raining quite hard and very windy.
So much for Tiratonga.
It turns out that the tropical storm warning the police had gotten earlier
in the week was actually manifesting! We had one heckuva storm – it rained
for 11 hours nonstop with the water flowing off the roofs of houses like a
river. And it got cold. I tried to get home during a lull when it was just
raining normally, got stuck in a shop which then began to flood, and finally
got home rather soaked and chilled. It was a day for cozying up with a book
and (my first ever!) a cup of tea.
A boat had come on Thursday. One of the small old clunkers that are usually
chartered by private people. In this case, a Buala woman had hemorrhaged
after giving birth to her 5th child and died. So, the tradition is you
charter a boat to bring back the body. Poor guy, I kept thinking, 5 children
to raise alone, including a newborn. And not great timing – to have to have
a funeral Easter weekend. The next morning I saw a bunch of people at the
boat and thought it must have to go back and they were just taking
advantage. But later I learned that they had done the funeral right as the
body came off the boat and now the friends and relatives were heading back
to Honiara for Easter. Wow, that was fast. BTW, I also learned that it costs
around $30,000 Solomon to charter a boat ($4,000 US), which even for a
government employee at the managerial level is nearly a year's salary. So,
when someone is really suffering at the hospital in Buala, the nurses are
very careful about who they recommend be sent to Honiara – so they don't
send someone to Honiara to die and just cause the family extreme expense. .
Yesterday, I was sitting in my living room reading. I got up to stretch and
then was looking out the window because it seemed it was starting to rain. I
looked down on the grave of my landlord which is covered with a good sturdy
tarp up on a wood frame – my landlady is actually in town for a few weeks
and has purchased cement and some roofing to make a proper enclosure. On the
grave are a couple of wreaths and two large flower stands. And there was a
cat stepping into one of the wreaths and then curling itself up in it – a
perfect fit! Later in the afternoon, after the rain passed, there were some
boys, about 10-12 years old, I'd guess, wandering around as they often do on
Sunday afternoons. They looked over at the gravesite and then went to it. I
immediately jumped to the conclusion that they were going to vandalize it
somehow. But no. They retrieved the flower stands and set them back up in
their places – they must have blown around in the rain – and then they
wandered along. How wonderfully caring and respectful.
Ah sweet Buala, there are definitely something I will miss.