AUSTRAL, March 3rd, 2017, Santa Ana, Solomon Islands

Posted on Tuesday 28 March 2017

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Santa Ana is also known locally as Owaraha or Owa Raha, which is located in the Solomon Islands, within the Makira-Ulawa Province. This relatively small coral island is 5.6 km long and 4.5 km wide.

It is located at the eastern end of Makira (San Cristobal), separated from it by a 7.5 km wide strait, & just north of smaller Owariki (Santa Catalina). The sound between Owaraha & Owariki is only 2.5 km wide.

The island has two main villages Gupuna (or Ghupuna) & Nafinotoga. The inhabitants of Owaraha speak the Owa language & share the same culture with the people in Owariki & in the eastern end of Makira Island. The Pagewa & Aiga Tatari clans of Owaraha & other nearby islands claim descent from the refugees from Teonimanu which was washed away.

First recorded sighting by Europeans was by the Spanish expedition of Álvaro de Mendaña on 4 July 1568. More precisely the sighting & also landing in Owahara was due to a local voyage done by a small boat, in the accounts the brigantine Santiago, commanded by Francisco Muñoz Rico & having Hernán Gallego as pilot. They charted it as Santa Ana.

After a hearty breakfast, we were eager to experience our first taste of the Solomon Islands. We boarded the Zodiacs® for a short transfer to an idyllic palm-fringed white sandy beach. We were greeted by a band of scary-looking warriors! We all gathered in under the shade of the large coastal trees, awaiting the spectacular welcome performance.

The dances retell the folklore of village life & the early contact between original inhabitants & new visitors. After this ceremonial welcome, we had the option of a range of activities. Some of us undertook a long walk through the tropical forest to the other side of the island.

We also had the chance to wander around exploring the local village of Ghupuna. Whilst, many of us simply enjoyed a dip in the warm crystal clear waters.

Soon enough, it was time to reboard the Zodiacs® bidding farewell to the island of Santa Ana.




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