Papua New Guinea 1st Home

First Home – 4/26/02

Hello Everyone,

I know this may be a bit long, but I think you guys have come to expect
that. First let me say thank you to everyone who wrote me letters after my
last escapade. I have not had the opportunity to read them as while I am in
Papua New Guinea, I am really only able to send mail out because of limited
time. When I arrive back in Australia after Sept. 9, I will read them all
including some new ones hopefully. Remember though, I may not always have
the chance to write back, but it really is great to hear from you.

Well, now let me get on with it. I feel as though I am in heaven. I can’t
remember a holiday giving me more satisfaction than Papua New Guinea has.
Let me start from the beginning. First, they let me in the country and I
thought that was a good sign.

I arrived into Port Moresby where I had a quick city tour as I was in
transit to Madang Island. I viewed the Parliament building which is in the
shape of a spirit house and then proceeded to the national museum where I
saw my first anteater. He was pretty cool. Caught a flight to Madang and
from there it has been a tropical paradise. The island is filled with
swaying palm trees, blue skies and beautiful, clear waters.

I boarded my cruise ship, the MTS Discoverer which would become my home for
the next week and they proceeded to fill me up with fish, steaks, potatoes,
vegetables, fresh tropical fruits, daily home-made bread and desserts every
day. I could not have asked for better service or hospitality. We sailed
from village to village on several islands always experiencing nothing less
than smiling, waving, happy children and adults. Communication was not as I
expected as we were always greeted with hello. English was widely spoken
throughout, even at the most remote villages that I visited.

While anchored, the speed boats were always fun as we shot around swells to
arrive at these beautiful and peaceful village spots. In the Gaubin Village,
I was able to visit the local Lutheran Gaubin Hospital. I went through the
maternity ward along with others. Although they were not the Western
standards we would be familiar with, they were equipt with some modern
equiptment for the severely ill. The entry fee into the hospital is 10 Kina
which includes all surgical procedures necessary. That is the equivalent to
$3.33.

I have always felt pretty lucky being in the right place at the right time.
As I was reading a book on Guinea, I was invited to board the local
helicopter providing medical care and other forms of assistance to the
neighboring islands of New Guinea. We floated off the ground for a 40 minute
flight to the largest island, Kar Kar. This island today still remains as an
active volcano. It was such a blast as I was left on my own instincts to
find my way around for several hours on Kar Kar while business was being
attended to. I was befriended by Linda and her best friend Matilda (They all
have Christian names). We spent hours together holding hands, singing and me
teaching them and 25 other kids Red Rover, Red Rover, Duck, Duck Goose and
Ring Around the Rosies. They loved that one the most. Then we each sang our
national anthems and they laughed so when I could not reach the high notes.

We all thanked each other as they watched this amazing bird fly into the sky
that bedazzled their wide eyes. That was a day I was unlikely to forget as
the helicopter proceeded to cross the Bismark Sea and land me on the top of
the MTS Discoverer. I had not even had the chance to meet the new arrivals
on the ship as we were transported by speed boat to the local island Sarang
where the villagers performed a sing sing for us with their bamboo drums
that are stacked and lined and hit with at the open ends for the different
sounds. We all laughed together as the whites got up to dance holding hands
with the natives until the sun went down. What a sunset and what a day.

We then ventured into the Sepik River lushly lined with sago and various
vegetation and fruit trees. We saw children perform songs and dances from
the local schools, a vocal performance from the boy and girl scouts from the
island Boisa in their local church and a comedic, tragedy performed by the
Angoram town in their language Pidgin. The locals were in hysterics.

Once back aboard, I had my face painted to look like a mask to ward off evil
spirits. It was a traditional mask face and clay and mud were painstakingly
applied with tiny brushes and soft strokes. It was beautiful and scary
looking at the same time. I looked like I had a wooden mask on my face. It
felt great coming off. I know why women pay so much for a mudd mask now.

It has been so hard to refuse shopping for the magnificent hand-crafted
artifacts available throughout each village that I’ve visited. The prices
are fantastic and the designs are magnificent. The best part is that there
is no pressure. They will show you something if you ask and they will answer
questions about the pieces, but there is just casual, relaxing shopping to
enjoy at your own personal pace and leisure.

The other remarkable noticeable difference between Papua New Guinea and
other countries I have most recently visited, They offer to do so much for
you as part of their hospitality. They want to teach you about their
culture. They are very proud people throughout all areas I have visited thus
far. They go out of their way to make you feel welcome and they never ask
for anything in return.

Well, my first week is completed and now I will start the land portion of
my journey. I will fly up into the highlands of PNG tomorrow. I will start
in Goroka for 2 nights, then Mt. Hagen for 2 nights and then Tari for 2
nights. My last day will be spent in Port Moresby probably trying to figure
out how to ship my artifacts and my 3 foot walking stick home.

I’ll write again from Australia where my first stop will start my outback
adventure. I will go the the center into Alice Springs to Uluru (Ayers Rock)
and travel North to Darwin and then along the coast to Perth.

As you can see I love to share my experiences with you so I will give
details along the way. This is the biggest downfall to traveling alone I
suppose. As you see these magnificent sights, you glance left and then right
and sometimes, there is noone to see the most amazing sunset that you just
experienced.
So thank you for letting me share it with you.

Always in my thoughts and prayers,

Elisa

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