Travels

The giant wave of Honiara in Solomon Islands

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thatThat never came that night of July 25, 2012, DAY 9 around the world in the South Seas. The moment that we have felt more fear and helplessness in any destination waiting for the "tsunami". The darkest night in which the panic could with us.

This is one of those stories that are never told while on the road, of those that the faces of the family would be a poem if they knew the reality. It is also one of those that can not be told in a frivolous way, and more knowing that unfortunately nature has returned to be primed these days with the area of ​​the land most affected by seismic nature in the middle of the infernal belt.

We remember that we never imagined that we would know so much to reach Solomon Islands, country unknown to our environment until 1 month before our departure, when they would casually present Mr. Rajoy as Prime Minister of the country at a summit in Rio. We also knew that we were landing in the area of ​​the planet with greater frictions between plates, high tensions in the form of earthquakes and congregation of volcanoes like the one we reached in Tanna (Vanuatu) days before, in full boil. We were in the ring of Fire.

Honiara, capital of Solomon Islands, welcomed us with that Intense blue that the Pacific leaves early in the morning. We reached an archipelago, the largest in the world with 990 islands, surrounded by coral landscapes, huge tropical groves and overflowing streams that complicated access to certain corners of a given area.


 

We walked for the first time one of the most authentic places in Melanesia, full of indigenous tribes to be rediscovered, of places taken from the oldest adventure films and where more native languages, up to 89, are spoken.

A series of circumstances allowed us to achieve a means of locomotion and "soak up" an island with a lot of history, Guadalcanal, and its fruit and food stalls distributed along the only and main road, its few roads full of spit of color red produced by the nut of Bethel, its markets and its humble wooden houses distributed disorganized parallel to the coast or inland. Although, no doubt, lor what else moved us it was, bypassing the worst stretches of roads affected by the effects of the last floods, being able to touch with our own hands the vestiges that World War II He left in one of his most famous battles.


 

In the afternoon we decided a place to stay. We do not know if possibly to see these ceremonies, totems and traditional values ​​that Melanesian culture keeps or if we are very tired of this epic that meant reaching our destination, we decided to a good hotel in the city of Honiara, he Kitano Mendana, a concrete building but barely 2 stories tall, right in front of the Iron Bottom Sound that such an important role will play in the battle of Guadalcanal in the deep Sea of ​​Solomon and in the Pacific Ocean. The room, basic but spacious, perfectly met our needs.


 

That same afternoon, the sun left beautiful colors in the sky of the now quiet capital of the country. The atmosphere became peaceful like that calm that precedes a storm and that strangely you get to feel without knowing very well why.


EXTRACT FROM THE DAILY OF THE DAY.It's around 22'00 (from now we don't have photos). While Isaac finds me writing on the bedside table by uploading the latest photos to the story of the day so that the family can rest assured that we reach these lands, Paula is already waiting for me in bed. Dinner has been quiet, and the show the less curious. Now the exteriors become dark as soon as they are lit with small lanterns. Honiara is not an excessively bright city, it reminds us of the first image we had of Havana very different from what we could have imagined.


 

22.20: 27sec, the screen of the small laptop begins to move. Initially I think that the accumulated fatigue asks me to go to bed but in just 5 seconds everything starts to move abnormally. Paula jumps out of bed ... "What's up?" Why is everything moving? ".

Without even knowing the reason, the first reaction is to open the door and go under the frame of the main door. We are on the first floor and everything moves alarmingly. Are 40 or 50 endless seconds, in which the gaze is fixed on the frame that shelters us and on the objects that could fall from the highest part.


Little by little it begins to stop. The Kitano Mendana is completely silent. We have not had something similar anywhere in the world, it has been an earthquake, a very intense one.

The lights go out, while people start to leave their rooms. It seems that everything is over. Or not? A group of boys sleeping in the next room scream and run. They do not speak English, and we only understand "Passport! Passport!". We ask them ... they don't answer us. They don't want to tell us the real reason for so much hurry until they leave their door open they run to the Hall. Suddenly Paula says the words that make us pale ... "And the Tsunami?"

We were a few meters from the shore of the beach and we had not noticed that detail. We have to find out something. We go down to the Hall. There are many people, in pajamas or underwear, asking the receptionists, who do not know what to do. Let's go outside There are no means of transport, nor taxis. If there had been any, they had already left inland with the most agile ... and it was not us. The uncertainty of that giant wave over Honiara makes us tremble ...


 

What do we do now? We asked the receptionist, who called and called trying to get some news that did not arrive. We go up to the room. Paula starts to put things in the backpack meaningless none, a reaction fruit of the nerves that has never been able to explain. Did we climb another floor? Are we going back down? Do we go out again, with the intention of finding some means of transport? There isn't. It is impossible. All Honiara is silent.

We suffer 10 really endless minutes, trying to reason everything read above. If a tsunami moves between 600-800 km / h depending on the depth, the epicenter should have been less than 100 km before it had arrived.

AND the news finally arrives. The young receptionist copies on a paper with dozens of people crowding to try to read what he writes ...

6.9 intensity earthquake on the Ritcher Scale

Epicenter 24 miles SW of Guadalcanal

There is NO tsunami warning.

As if it were the best news they have given us in life, our pale white face begins to seem to flow for the first time in the last 15 minutes. The epicenter has been on the other side of the island, so even if there had been a tsunami it would not have reached our shores. If there had been and had been in its northern zone, in less than 3 minutes it would have swept everything away. Fortunately the worst thing that has happened has been the absolute destruction of the store located in the Hall and whose only unfocused photo we have been able to take.


After calling the family from the reception itself (thanks to the kindness of the always attentive staff), little by little we recover the calm of one of the most tense moments we have suffered in an adventure. We even got to consider leaving the world around but finally we pull courage and continue despite the replicas of the next day before take the local flight that took us to Marovo Lagoon.

This little story, already in our memories, served us for the first time to understand the terrible misfortunes that nature causes around us, and that seen in a movie hardly impact for a few hours but do not allow us to FEEL the true and crude reality that bear Without going any further, these same days, a tsunami of 8 has left 6000 people homeless and at least 13 dead in the area, in addition to countless replicas, and for the first time we are able to understand its meaning.


 

Our journey continued, not without our doubts, and we achieved many of our dreams, but We will always remember that night of tense calm in which the giant wave of Honiara ... never came.

 

Isaac and Paula, days later I walk to Marovo Lagoon

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