It was clear that’s the way it was going to be ever since stepping off the plane in Honiara, with no staff at customs and only one person manning the ‘nationals’ desk. Although our connecting flight out to the island of San Cristobal, located in the Makira Ulawa province, was due to leave, it was clear it was time to adjust the circadian rhythm to Solomon’s time.
After a short sweat drenched walk to the domestic terminal followed by a nail-biting six man plane (with our boards taking up most of the seated area), we thankfully landed on the grass runway of KiraKira, home for the next month.
It was straight down to business and time to check out the local hospital, currently manned by one Doctor and having a catchment area of 40,000 people. This makes him the physician, paediatrician, obstetrician/gynaecologist, and surgeon/anaesthetist, among other things. Needless to say this can be problematic in some situations like maintaining an airway while operating, which can be further (and often is) complicated by the towns diesel generator cutting out halfway through the operation!
On the med front there have been countless interesting diagnoses and management approaches, including tuberculosis lymphadenitis, hydrops foetalis, manual vacuum deliveries, pellagra, loads of malaria, machete attacks, and some weird and wonderful traditional healing – which is commonly the primary treatment modality in more remote areas. One particular case that set the precedent on the first day was a five-year-old girl with a suspected femur fracture. With no access to x-ray, the clinical diagnosis was made and it was off to the local carpenters to rig up a traction device. The next four weeks consisted of this kids leg suspended by three 1L bottles tied to a varnished wooden pulley – with no analgesia throughout.
Then there was the recent earthquakes and tsunami, which soon determined which patients were sick and who weren’t, with the majority ripping their lines out and bolting up the local hill! Although the immediate area was unaffected other than by a small tidal surge, Temotu province to the East was at the epicentre and wasn’t so lucky. Although reports are still sketchy due to the remoteness of the area, numerous low lying villages were wiped out with multiple casualties reported.
We wish all those affected all the best with rebuilding their lives.
There’s also been plenty of action in the water, with a nice little reef known as ‘containers’ a stone’s throw away from the pad, with not another surfers in sight other than some local grommets with their bamboo boards. When they saw us turning on the waves, a feat that isn’t so easy on the local crafts, they were going nuts hooting and cheering on the beach. Classic stuff. But the real action is to the East. For those hunting empty setups, other than plenty of local black tips, this is the place to be. From long running points to hollow slabs, this joint provides a wavehunters dream, albeit not for the faint hearted, but with tradeoffs like electricity for crayfish and warm water lineups for showers, who would complain?
Righto, it’s time to go cook the motu for the farewell bash.