Solomon Islands

June 12, 2016

A fishing boat off the coast of Honiara, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.

Solomon Islands basics:

• A half million people living mainly on six major islands.

• An independent country; also in the British Commonwealth.

• The Pacific's second poorest country; only Kiribati is poorer.

• Scene of WWII's crucial Battle of Guadalcanal, driving Japan out of its southernmost advance.

My favorite day in the Solomons followed a rough boat trip to the island of Tugali where our small band of travelers explored the villages, had lunch, and chatted with friendly students and other local people.

Arriving at Tugali Island.

Like these boys in Tugali, many people in parts of the Solomon Islands are born with rich dark skin and light blond hair! Recent DNA analysis shows their hair color comes from a unique genetic variation and definitely not from any European intermarriage. Blonds are a minority but they sure stand out.

Girls were more camera-shy but this young man loved posing with confidence and style.

Back on the island of Guadalcanal, at a less picturesque, less blond, but equally authentic village, we also had a chance to walk around, observe, and talk with more Solomon Islanders.

Girls playing a vigorous version of jump rope while others gather to watch an afternoon action movie.

With the owner of the Vilu outdoor museum of American and Japanese WWII relics from the Battle of Guadalcanal.

Left: The hilltop memorial to the thousands of Americans and allies who died in the pivotal Battle of Guadalcanal. Right: A boy plays on the beach in front of the remains of a bombed Japanese ship.

This stream car wash that was popularized, we were told, by US marines who washed vehicles here during WWII.

Men fishing at sunrise on our last morning in Honiara, Solomon Islands.