Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I have never been this cold in PNG.  Seriously – how is this possible?  I was cold to the bone for at least 5 hours and even after having a hot shower, hot tea(s), and the oven on for a few hours I still don’t feel ‘warm.’  Chris and I head out this morning (despite some warnings that it may not be the ideal weather for traveling) to visit the village we will take the students to in a couple of weeks for their village studies research.  It’s a coastal village about 40 minutes across the bay via banana boat (a bit closer than Salamaua).

The rain starts almost as soon as we are dropped off at Agris Market where the ground is one solid mud pit with beetle nut carcasses and red buai spit.  Wishing I had work boots rather than flip flops on until we have to walk through the oil water to get on our private banana boat we’ve hired for the occasion (K70 each round trip).  The driver forgot to turn the heater on:

We arrive at the village, soaking, to meet with the local leaders.  They bring us to a shelter out of the rain; I’ve never been so happy for a hot cup of tea (and we still have to make the trip back).  Our meeting goes well and the leader seems to be very much on the same page as we are concerning the importance of documenting villages.  We work out a few of the details and take a walk around the village to get an idea of it’s size.  Our guide tells us there are 2 wards, each with three groups which each contain approximately 50 to 60 homes and a total population of about 4,000.  This is a small city!

Most of the villagers are sitting under their sago roofs, nice and dry, preparing food or doing some work.  A couple of guys carve canoe paddles.  The students, all in school, rush to the windows when we walk past to see who the visitors are.  A few of the braver ones practice their English phrases on me.  

It’s beautifully tucked between the sea and the mountains, which we catch a few glimpses of between the low clouds.  We’re told there is a large waterfall that will be worth a small hike.  I’m honestly looking forward to spending the weekend here in a few weeks.  (Maybe they’ll take us fishing, or at least us lecturers, the students will have work to do 😉 ).  I am not looking forward to our boat ride back…We can’t get a signal to call for our ride from the village so that they’ll be there when we get back to the market, and then Chris’s phone dies.  I only have our secretaries number and can barely text on the boat between the rain and my frozen fingers.  Once at the market, feet once again enjoying a mud bath, we call for our ride.  Forty-five minutes later I’m still shaking from the cold and our ride has yet to appear.  A follow up call reveals they still haven’t even obtained a vehicle to pick us up.  Finally another thirty minutes later they send a PMV for us.

Our boat driver still has another trip to make this afternoon back to his village.  I do not envy his job on days like this.

This is my cold face:

(@ Agris Market – everything I have on is completely soaked and containing 3 liters of additional water – that ‘rain’ coat – not actually waterproof, not even water resistant.)

Now, after a warm shower, hot tea, and several hours of baking for my Thanksgiving Turkey dinner* I’m hosting on Thursday I’m still not totally warm.

*It’s not exactly November but November is going to get sooo busy, and if I’m gonna have to have the oven on for hours and hours this is a much better time of the year to do that.  This also happens to be the only Thursday that my other two, true American’s are in town at the same time for a while.  Thus my ‘American Thanksgiving in Lae’ is now a September event.


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