Trees in the tanks
This blog is temporarily about travel and homeschooling in Solomon Islands.
When 19,000 US Marines landed here between November – December 1942 they left their big ships using landing vehicles, a sort of duck transport with caterpillar tyres that gets you through water and then on to land.
Imagine being a 14 year old girl – as Joyce’s mother was – and seeing the first of these foreign soldiers coming ashore on the beach by her tiny leaf house. Apparently the villagers were so frightened they ran away and hid in the bush. There’s no bush on this bit of Guadalcanal now as it’s all oil palm plantation. Smells a bit too – plus riddled with flies – I’m told this is a recent bad change which happened since a Papua New Guinea company took over the management of what was British run, first as Levers and then the CDC (commonwealth development corporation).
But just beyond Tetere (you get there by driving until the road splits, turn left, go past the oil mill then taken the first left before the sharp right bend and drive through long grass – no surprise that I got lost, but only once!) there’s a tiny collection of leaf houses which have a surprising focal point: more than 40 rusting LTV-1s (tracked landing vehicles). The American military equipment just got left there and over the years the banyan trees have grown through it. It’s a very poetic guns and roses metaphor, and the pictures I’ve taken are lovely. We also saw a pawpaw tree coming out of the gearing; a village teen using one as his special hiding place for a catapult and the younger kids playing inside the vehicles. Mean mum me told Nell there was no way she could do that, the rust and potential for tetanus seemed a dead cert – but the local kids were having a fab time.
Lola: “It was really interesting seeing all the trees growing through the tanks, as it felt so abandoned, yet so many things were living in them. There were about 30/40 tanks in various states of decay, some perfectly preserved and some just piles of metal. The local kids were playing in them which looked really funny! I thought it was a really good place.”