One the the prime reasons for me to come to Malaita was to see Lilisiana, which I for some reason believed to be a little north of Auki. I had even timed my visit so that it would be in the late afternoon, when I expected the light to be best. When our boat sailed into the bay, I saw Auki right ahead, and on our left, houses on stilts on the beach. At first, I thought it was a suburb of Auki, but then I suddenly realized I was very likely looking at Lilisiana itself. Kids were jumping into the water off their sandy beach to greet us as we sailed past and docked just across the small bay. Later that afternoon, I walked over to the village, and when I reached the first houses of Lilisiana, I realized that it was high tide: the trees were standing with their feet in the water, while houses could only be reached by wading through it. Highly unpractical, although the people did not seem to care in the least; but it did make the houses look so much more attractive, especially because they were reflected in the water. Some looked quite new; a shop owner then told me that this was the new part of Lilisiana; the original islet on which it was built, was already full. I continued walking until I reached a small bridge; here, I had a great view of the traditional wooden houses on stilts around the brook.
The warm light was actually perfect on the light brown wooden thatched houses and canoes lying on the quiet water in which they were reflected flawlessly. It was also here that more and more kids were surrounding me, asking to take pictures; they ended up fighting for a spot, and even when it was not their turn, jumped in front of the camera, effectively ruining the picture of the pretty face I was trying to shoot. They were a happy crowd, though, and flocked around me like a cloud of bees around a honeycomb. I walked into the main, sandy street of Lilisiana, where also the older people made me feel welcome. The place had that rustic feel that made it so attractive: the late afternoon sun shining on the sago leaf covered traditional huts gave them a warm glow. Behind the houses on the right, there was the sea, and the houses on the left were standing on the banks of the river. Especially at high tide, the peninsula on which Lilisiana sits, is narrow.
The kids guided me around a pool of water at the end of the street, which blocked access to the modern building of a church, and we reached the end of Lilisiana village. We stopped here for a while, and I then counted not less than 27 kids surrounding me, laughing, looking shyly, teasing each other, playing in the water, or begging for another picture. I now realized how close we really were to the dock of Auki: it was just a short swim away. We turned around, and I stopped several times to chat with people. At one instance, a guy asked me what religion I was, and when I answered "none", he was shocked, and told me that, well, the entire village was catholic. He thought about it for a while, until a smile came to his face, when he asked me if I was baptized. My second negative was too much for him, he looked at me with wide-open eyes, and told me that was not good. I tried to change the situation by saying that my father was a catholic, and baptized, and that saved his face: a broad smile broke through, especially when I pointed out that we were actually brothers because both our fathers had been baptized and were catholic. I continued my walk back, said goodbye to most of the kids on the bridge we had met, while two daring ones accompanied me all the way back to the village where I was just in time for sunset, which, however, was not the best time to see Lilisiana - that moment would come a few days later when the first rays of sunlight of the day brought out the best of the houses on stilts.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Lilisiana (Solomon Islands). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Lilisiana.
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