Shopping for fruit and veg in the Solomon Islands couldn’t be easier; most days I don’t even have to leave the cockpit. Outside urban centres like Honiara and Gizo (where there are stores and fresh markets and people have jobs that pay money) we almost never go ashore for fresh goods. Guaranteed sometime during the day at least one local will paddle up silently in their dugout canoe with local fruits and veggies they want to unload. Sometimes people want money, but more often than not they are looking to trade.
In our month in the Solomon’s I have “purchased” coconuts, oranges, papaya, bananas, pineapples, limes, chilies, fresh eggs, fern cabbage, long green beans, tomatoes, eggplants and sweet potatoes over the lifelines. As for trade items it has ranged from downloading music onto a young man’s phone to second hand clothes to a bag of salt. Fishing line and hooks are popular with the young boys while hair elastics and barrettes are a winner with the girls.
The other day, while we were enjoying the late afternoon calm and quiet of the Laipari lagoon a woman named Pauline arrived with few edible trade items, including a surprise; a large bowl of mushrooms she had just collected in the forest. This was a surprise because I haven’t seen mushrooms for months, not in the supermarkets, not in the fresh markets, not even growing in the underbrush when we’ve been ashore for a walk. But these mushrooms, besides being huge, were firm, fresh and typically mushroom coloured and shaped. She said that they grow at the base of the sago palms and have come out since the rain we had at New Years. Continue reading