After a protocol error at the UN conference Rio+20 that introduced Mariano Rajoy as ‘the first minister of the Solomon Islands’, the South Pacific nation has responded with appropriate measures, offering him an official residence.
The mistake during the summit meeting was translated, subtitled and broadcast on television screens all over Rio de Janeiro. Immeditaly after his speech Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish head of government, was stripped of his new title when the plenary speaker apologised for his slip of the tongue.
‘Even if he has been one for only a few minutes, we think every prime minister is worthy of place to call home,’ says Michael Tokuru, general manager of the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau. ‘We are now preparing an official residence for Mr. Rajoy.’
The ‘leaf house’ on tiny Aibisa Island will be built in traditional style, built from timber and palm leaves. It boasts views over World Heritage-nominated Marovo Lagoon. ‘Here, Rajoy can pull his dinners right from the water,’ says Tokuru. Marovo Lagoon is also home to master woodcarvers, eager to teach newcomers their tricks.
Solomon Islands is a Commonwealth state that gained its independence in 1978. The first Westerner to lay eyes on the archipelago was Spanish navigator Álvara de Mendaña de Neira in 1567. Some of the nearly 1,000 islands still bear Spanish names, such as Santa Isabel, Guadalcanal, San Cristobal and Buena Vista.