Sunday, April 30, 2006

Moses and the Dance Off...

Well, one of the telling factors about any society is how they party…so obviously I was curious as to what our ‘first night out in Alotau’ would hold for us. Well, I can’t say we were disappointed. First let me give some background…

Moses Tau is one of the top recording artists in Papua New Guinea. He/She performs in male and female clothes, but probably identifies more with the female side. Moses is a very talented singer and is widely admired, and won some awards at the Sydney Mardi Gras in 2006 (I think).

He/She was at Education Milne Bay (Jane’s workplace) the other day recording some film clips for his new songs. Tori and I (Jane) were sitting there chatting and watching the proceedings when Moses asked for us to be in his film clip. The song was one promoting Milne Bay – a song with a tourism undertone – and some ‘dim dims’ were needed. So we had to sit there with flowers in our hair, drinking from coconuts in our daggy work clothes and ‘follow Moses to paradise’. So the first taste of stardom in PNG was fairly hilarious, and we are hoping it will come on EMTV (PNG’s music channel)…if we can possibly tape it we will.

So Moses was hosting a karaoke/Phillipino night at Masurina (one of the local drinking holes) last Saturday night – we decided this event was too good to miss and hence arrived at our first night out in Alotau. The night was proceeding with just a little bit of cask wine and traditional dancing when the dancers were asked to pick members of the audience as partners. Now most people reading this will know that I’m not at all averse to dancing, but I wasn’t sure about this traditional dancing, and so tried not to be picked. In the way of all things, when you want to be ignored, you aren’t, and so before I knew it I was up on the dance floor, with my dance partner Bosco. Bosco was wearing a loin cloth, creatively placed plant product and gold paint.

We were all dancing away when Moses decided that we should dance in groups, and the audience would eliminate couples until the winner was decided. Not knowing much about traditional dancing I did the age old “When in doubt, just wiggle your hips”, and that seemed to work quite well. It worked well enough that Bosco and I made it to the last two couples, and while we didn’t win, we lost to one of the well known local bosses. Not being the ‘favourite’, number two didn’t seem too bad, so I thought the evening was quite successful. Even better, Cam actually got up and danced at some point too, and photos were taken as proof.

So sleepy little Alotau can really let her hair down at times (especially when there are large groups of vocal women and alcohol combined!). Now we just have to test out the other drinking holes in town.

Coming Soon: our house, our life, our Alotau…

Monday, April 24, 2006

Some more shots...

Hello folkies as we struggle to unravel the intericacies of our new jobs we've still found time to upload a few more photos for your viewing pleasure. This set basically involves some of the beauty of the hotsprings and gysers that we visited at Dei Dei on Fergusson Island, the cool flowery type thingys are shapes made by the minerals that seep out of the thermal vents... sometimes when the minerals encounter biological matter they do wonderous things like fossilizing the leaves that are held in Charlie the boat operators hand...very cool.

Just case you'd like to know how we did our travelling around we've included a photo of the boat that carried seven of us plus provisions into the teeth of the Cyclone, also included is a photo of the man who made sure we made it out the other side... Resident hand model and general all round good guy Charlie Graham the boat operator is also one of the original Village Engagement Trainers who has been with the project that Cam is working with from the start. He enjoys demonstrating coconut disection techniques on deserted beaches and driving boats into the teeth of tropical squalls.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The second type of underwater camera...

It has long been the wisdom of those that dive that there are infact only two types of underwater camera...
Type 1. Those that have flooded with saltwater, rendering them horribly ruined beyond repair.
Type 2. Those that are going to flood with salt water, soon to be rendered horribly ruined beyond repair.

Given that we currently own one of the second type of underwater camera we thought it might be nice to share with you some of the shots that we got with it whilst clambering about in the Islands to the North of Milne Bay (Normanby, Fergusson & Dobu).

Not an overly long detailed description of each because we're still trying to establish the best way to upload the bloody things but hope that you enjoy them those taken underwater are only from a snorkel depth no scuba so those of you in colder and murkier waters eat your hearts out...

or just come and visit...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The joys of tropical tiredness...

Well. We're here, we're safe and we're exhausted! First chance we've had to use the internet since we've been here. Partly from being busy, and partly because of the lack of internet services around the place.

So. Some good things about Alotau.
*The local beer SP is good. Very good. And seeing as wine and spirits are expensive here this has made me happy.
*There is red meat here, and we had spaghetti bolognese for dinner last night.
*Our house and housemates are all lovely. There is plenty of gardening potential as well, so all the seeds I bought will come in handy.
*Work is about a one minute walk away from the house for Jane, and a short drive for Cam.
*Lots of inexpensive fresh food from the markets. Also, lots of favourite foods can be found in the supermarket for varying prices.

Some not-so-good things.
*Alcohol is not able to be purchased from Friday to Monday.
*Lots of bugs and Cane Toads - there was an unfortunate incident yesterday where Cam found two living in is dive fins.
*Betel nut eveywhere - but then that is all over PNG. It's a nut that people chew with mustard and lime, which goes red, and people spit it everywhere. I saw a dog with betel nut spit on it yesterday :(
*No salt and vinegar chips.

But we've been having a great time so far. We spent a few days in Port Moresby for Orientation where we waited. A lot. Nothing happens quickly in PNG.
Highlights included the Mumu welcome feast, bamboo band, getting my PNG drivers license :), hanging out with all the other AYADs. Wasn't as impressed with our flight to Alotau being cancelled on Thursday, and then arriving at the airport at 4am on Easter Friday (as we had been told),only to have our flight leave at 11:30. Nothing like hanging around the departure lounge of an airport.

We arrived in Alotau and went straight out to Fergusson and Normanby Islands. We stayed in some great little guest houses, and got to see a bit of village life. It's pretty humbling to see how people are living without electricity or running water, and yet they are happy and making the most of life. It's not everywhere in the world that you can be woken up in the middle of the night because a pig is under your bedroom snuffling around and hitting the floor.

Over 4 days we went snorkelling in some of the most amazing reefs (I'm sure Cam will post some piccies soon), climbed a dormant volcanoe, went to some hot springs, and travelled around on a boat a fair bit - it can take a few hours to get between places.

We've been at Alotau a few days now, and we're starting to settle in. We'll add some photos soon, and perhaps I'll write a bit more about our first adventure. I've been very good (so far) and am keeping a journal, so I won't forget what happened.
So back to tropical life. Another disadvantage is the sweat, but something to get used to I suppose. We're really enjoying it here, but it is nothing like Australia.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The reassurance of the physical visa

Ok. So it's one thing to know that you are theoretically going overseas. It's entirely more comforting and realistic once the passports and visas arrive in your hot little hands...and that's what happened today. Thank God!

So yes. After a weeks delay in departing the country, as a result of our passports being in transit, it's really nice to know that we will actually get to go this Sunday (it's also interesting to note that both our passports and luggage have been to PNG while we have not). We are still waiting on our airline tickets, but the passports will at least let us out of the country.

Now we actually have to clean up the clothes and various other travel items that have been scattered over the lounge room floor for the last few weeks (here our families breath a huge sigh of relief), get all our shit together and get out of here! We have a what we hope is a years supply of mosquito repellant, suncream and anything else we are not sure we can get in our small, Pacific town for the next year (care packages are always welcome!). But then hopefully the 10 bags/boxes we've already sent over will contain almost anything we could possibly need.

The exciting news is that after our orientation week in Port Moresby, we get some more Orientation in Alotau. Some of this will include visiting some islands in the province, going snorkeling (including in near underwater thermal vents), looking at dormant volcanoes, meeting villagers etc. So very exciting! And the volunteers over there are going to show us around (I'm kind of relying on them for any pigeon-english required). But we'll be sure to post the great pictures that we will get!

Signing off for now. Must get to fitting everything into our bags : /

Monday, April 03, 2006

Ok, so this isn't PNG...

But it is Cam's graduation. And that's happy!

Cam graduated last Thursday. 6 years of uni, with 2 degrees and a first class honours year. The ceremony had two fantastic speakers - Ian Kiernan(from clean up Australia) and Robyn Williams(from ABC radio's "science show"). They were both awarded honorary doctorates of Science. Inspiring speeches and then dinner with good company - quite a nice night really.

This is also a picture of the cast of this blog Jane and Cam (hint Cam is wearing the graduation hat/trencher/mortar board thingy).

Day 1 of not being in PNG

So. To get something on the page.

Was hoping to have some sort of plane trip by now, but unfortunately there was a delay in visas and so we are enjoying another week in Australia. Just as well really, seeing as we hadn't finished moving out of our houses...but also another week in which to enjoy all those culinary delights we aren't sure we will be able to have for another year.

So probably better get back to all that packing stuff. Might try and add some piccies soon.