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July 3, 2000

Solomons to Australia voyage - basecamp update #1

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Mon, 03 Jul 2000 19:25:26 -0700
April Arrives in Honiara
Solomon Islands

As I boarded the flight from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea bound for Honiara, Solomon Islands, I was surprised at the number of people on board. South Pacific news agencies had reported a lull in the ethnic tension on Guadalcanal, but it appeared to be an uneasy quiet. Yet, the flight was very nearly full and I perceived that to be a reassuring sign.

I'd not been too anxious about the fighting as far as my arrival on Guadalcanal was concerned. I was, simply, anxious to arrive for the sake of reaching the conclusion of my seemingly endless connecting flights from Colorado. Earlier in the year, Jason had asked if I would be interested in joining him aboard Moksha to help pedal the Solomons-Australia leg through the Coral Sea. As I've worked with the educational cultural exchange projects for Expedition 360, I imagined this voyage, on a professional level, could give me a very unique perspective. In addition, our Global Learning Exchange activities with kids in the Solomons would be an essential link in our global network. And now, after several months of gathering kit, making travel arrangements and spending hours on a recumbent stationary bike, I was at last to meet up with Jason and Chris.

As the plane began final approach into Honiara, my attention became focused on the island below. Dense vegetation covered the hills of Guadalcanal and small rivers cut a shimmering ribbon across the landscape. Quite a contrast to what I had seen a year earlier on Tarawa, which was my introduction to the South Pacific region.

As the plane taxied to the terminal, I peered out the window, searching for two familiar faces in the crowd of islanders waiting to greet the plane. The heat and humidity encountered upon deplaning was a startling contrast to the winter I'd left behind in southern Australia two days earlier.

As I walked across the flight ramp, Kenny Brown, our cameraman whom I'd joined in Brisbane, hollered, "There's Chris!" Looming head and shoulders above the locals, Chris waved a huge greeting as he and Jason made their way through the crowd. My excitement at seeing them was nearly overwhelming. It had been a long road to get me to this point and I sensed that the easiest part of the trip was over. The most exciting, exotic and arduous journey was about to begin.


Posted on July 3, 2000 12:34 PM