Thursday, May 11, 2006

Humanity vs the Mosquitoes (and why I sometimes hate both)

The day to day tasks in PNG take as much getting used to as the obvious things (language, culture etc.). Going to the bank takes at least an hour, nothing special, just the run-of-the-mill transactions. Walking past someone in the street (unless it is busy or crowded) it is polite to smile and say hello or “Goode” – the general niceties of a small town. It’s strange how pressured one can feel to be nice, it is almost confronting.

The sounds are different – geckos are continually making their clicking/chirping sound (but you can never see them when they do it), birds twittering away, animals yelping (that one is certainly taking a lot of getting used to. Stray animals abound, and there’s not such a big emphasis on treating them nicely. Milne Bay doesn’t seem to be too bad, but dogs especially aren’t afforded the respect that they are in Australia or other countries). Kids are noisier here – it’s quite nice. Kids are allowed to be kids and run around and be loud without parents shushing them all the time, and nobody really cares because kids are just being kids.

Bush knives are everywhere. Someone walking along the side of the road with a big machete/bush knife is a common sight. Kids play with them all the time (which makes me nervous for their own safety), and they mostly seem quite competent with them. I guess they are taught to use them at a young age for around the house/garden chores. Cam wasn’t happy until he had bought his very own bush knife.

The smell of smoke continuously permeates the air. Papua New Guineans love to burn things. Most houses have a pit or black spot outside where they regularly burn their rubbish. This may be something they have done for a long time, however the nature of rubbish is changing and I can’t say I love it when I see plastics being burnt. Dirty feet are common as most people where no shoes, or thongs and when it’s not dusty, it’s raining and muddy. Still it’s nice to be somewhere that no matter how hard it’s raining it’s still warm and rather pleasant and refreshing to walk in.

Mosquitoes are not my favourite. While I never see them swarming, they turn up at random and sneaky times. So far not too many bites (random yukky skin thing may or may not have started with a mosquito bite), but am sleeping in a room with insect netting and a mosquito net, so hopefully we’ll be as safe from the little buggers as can be. Spiders occasionally like to hide under things, but they usually run away when they see you – not so tough after all.

People here are as strange and confusing here as anywhere else, just in different ways. Most people are quite pleasant, but when you walk somewhere they can look at you fairly fiercely until you smile and greet them; after that they are all smiles. While we haven’t encountered much of it yet, black magic and sorcery abounds. One of our housemates was asked to wash with special herbs his local girlfriend gave him – apparently he had been dealing with witches that didn’t like her family. We are also seeing all the politics that a small town will have. If you make an appointment with someone here don’t expect them to come when they say, and expect the event to either be much shorter, or twice as long as it is meant to be.

One of the most frustrating things I’ve encountered here is a brand new media centre that has been built and furnished for 3 years, but has not been used. The current radio station is next door, working on equipment that must have been second hand in the 80’s, and it’s only able to broadcast for a limited time each day so that they can prerecord other material in the one studio that they have to work in. In the media centre there are 2 studios and a recording room equipped with new and state of the art gadgetry – just makes me sad. Not sure about the politics behind that situation, but it just seems such a waste.

But this is all part of the experience. Photo description: the water scene is 50m from our house - where we go for swims and paddles on the canoe. The next photo is of the view from our house and some nice cloud formation - also shows how close the mountains are. Last photo at the bottom is of our house - Cam and I live downstairs!


Blogger Tori in PNG said...

You'll have to keep me posted on the "burning" in KB, and how all the building is going. I laughed when a reporter said something about the 'streets of Honiara and Dili burning' during recent riots, I thought, in Alotau (or elsewhere in PNG) that's always happening!

8:47 am  

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