Monday, June 26, 2006

Welcome to Mashed Yam!

Yes that’s right, it’s purple – something I know will freak some people out, but will be a truly exciting phenomena to others. I can tell you it made the whole dinner making experience much more fun.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The next step of inclusion…

It’s been pointed out that we haven’t really talked about work much yet, so I’m going to rectify that now. But before I start there is a reason work hasn’t featured much until now – it’s because there hasn’t been much to talk about. I’ve been working, but the drama workshops have only just started, and the organization of workshops etc. is not nearly as interesting as actually doing them. I’ve also been working on a proposal for a Media grant which we sent off last week – if that is successful we’ll be doing radio plays with a drama group as well. But I’ve mostly been feeling my way around processes and politics etc, and also doing any research and talking to people to find out the most effective way to do things.

Poor Cam has been in a frustrating position with his Host Organisation in the middle of changing funding bodies as well as going through reviews etc. There hasn’t been an awful lot of marine stuff going on – well lots of report writing and management plans about marine stuff, but no field trips as such. Which is why we are making such a point of getting out and about (especially in the water) on weekends.

So, the response from the local population to the idea of my drama workshops has been fantastic. I think there is a real need for accessible creative activities (for both kids and the local youth – many of whom are unable to find work). I’ve started off with 2 afternoon impro classes for school kids and 2 evening classes for youths. Wow – are Tuesdays and Thursdays tiring! But it’s fun and inspiring when people react positively to a game that’s being taught – people here have never done anything like it! It’s too early to see where it’s going to go, but I think we’ve made a positive start.

It’s also amazing talking to people about the sort of things they want to do. Some people have asked after dance classes, music nights, productions…the list goes on. My role is shifting from Performing Arts Trainer, to Community Arts Development Co-ordinator (that second one sounds much more impressive). I’m also overwhelmed by the amount of people that have asked me to help train drama at youth conferences, schools, different provinces even! Everyone wants a part of me! Apart from drama and possible radio plays I think I’m going to have to source someone to teach dance classes (although apparently I can do everything and I’ve been asked not only to teach belly dancing, but to do a solo on stage…me, I’ve never even done belly dancing, only talked about it), look at a monthly music night and perhaps help to organize some school productions. I’d certainly like the chance to pass on some stage management and technical skills before I go.

The main frustration with work is how long it takes to organise things. The pace of life is slower here and people don’t understand your impatience to get things going. I’m especially glad we were warned not to expect anything to happen in the first 3 months, but am also seeing the merit of assignments longer than a year. Of course once things start, they might not always go as planned, but there’s bound to be something worthwhile to come out of it. I’ll never be a true local here but working with local kids and youths is kind of the next step of inclusion for me.

Oh and as an afterthought here's a photo of the WWII wreck the Muscoota we talked about earlier. More on our wet'nwild'weekend'@wagawaga to follow.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

You know you’re a local when…

*You’ve both won, and presented trivia at your local drinking hole
*You are unfazed when you open your dive bag and a cane toad jumps out
*People start saying hello and calling you by name, and you swear you’ve never met them before
*You no longer care about what you wear as everyone seems to wear their clothes a) 25 days in a row and b) until they literally fall off
*You don't get uptight when after waiting all day for a vehicle you find that the vehicle you are relying on to take you back to town is now without not just a wheel but in fact without all structures for attaching that wheel to the car i.e. barings, struts, shock absorbers
*You start getting called Aunty by those younger than you (it’s a term of respect – really)
*You eat your food ants or no, as you know you’ll never get them all out
*Colleagues start approaching you the same time everyday asking if you’d like a tea
*You’ve started your very own fire with refuse from around the house (although we steered away from plastics and stuck to garden rubbish).
*You become used to picking up items in your house (e.g. a banana) and having a gecko jump on you
*Naked children no longer surprise you. (If you are female) You also start getting clucky – in PNG I don’t think they’ve heard of ugly children, or at least I’ve not seen one yet
*You are starting a collection of macro photographs of wierd lookin bugs that you found whilst going about your daily tasks(Yeah thats right for those of you scared of spiders please note that this wasp is not. It has paralyzed it and is layin eggs in it so that they have fresh food for when they hatch cool huh?)

*Using the excuse “I couldn’t come to work because I had no dry clothes” actually seems feasible after the nth day in a row of rainy weather.

Monday, June 05, 2006

What a weekend!

I know that all we seem to write about are our weekend adventures, but some of them really are worth writing about…

Cam’s been hard at work sourcing all the dive possibilities in town, and on Saturday we went out with Hiro, a Japanese dive instructor who runs the local dive shop. It was our first real dive in PNG (I say real, because we went diving off the shore of my work, but it was short, uncomfortable, and not terribly worth mentioning), and the fact that Cam had to wait that long is indeed a terrible thing.

Saturday morning was a grey and rainy day, we got ready and the taxi didn’t come to pick us up. It is my belief that all the bad things happened to make way for all the good things that followed. We got on the boat for the one hour trip to the dive site, Sullivan’s Patches, which was just sitting in a patch of sun when we got there. We got geared up as Hiro told us we would see “plenty fish and lots of pretty coral”, and then got into the water which was (as promised) absolutely teaming with underwater life. I got myself ready to be in ‘spotter’ mode which was just as well seeing as the first thing I did was look up and spot a Whale shark.

That’s right, a Whale shark. It wasn’t a very old one seeing as it was only 4 - 4.5 metres long, but it was impressive enough. Cam and Lyn both got very excited and started taking pictures until Cam realized that the professional underwater photographer hadn’t seen it yet. Very soon there were about 6 of us swimming as fast as we could to keep up with this amazing creature, and Lyn was close enough that she actually patted it. The rest of the dive was spectacular, but I don’t know if anyone noticed it after the Whale shark encounter. We surfaced and I checked to make sure that it was indeed a Whale shark ( as it wasn’t quite as big as a bus like Cam had previously explained them to be {which is of course full adult size: Cam}) amid the general elation of the dive crew. Cam and Lyn tell me I don’t know how lucky I am – this dive was only number 15 for me (sorry Rowan).

Anyway, we had a second dive for the day in which we actually noticed the multitude of fish and very pretty coral – I’ve never seen anything like it (considering my lack of dives this isn’t much of a surprise, but Cam hasn’t seen anything like it either)! There were reef sharks, fish of every shape, size and colour (parrot fish, mackerel, sweetlips [I especially like the spotty ones],antheas, barracuda), nudibranchs…the list would go further if I actually knew more of the names. Except for the danger of running out of gas I could’ve stayed down there for hours. Anyway we eventually got back on the boat and had a sleepy and satisfied trip back to Alotau, where more excitement awaited us.

That night we went to a dinner that Maxine (my counterpart) had planned. When I say dinner, I actually mean feast as she doesn’t really do anything by halves (feast photos soon from Cam). There was food everywhere – all traditional dishes, or variations on traditional dishes – and that’s where I found out that I was the reason for all the food. The feast was so that I could experience the traditional dishes of PNG – and oh was it lovely!

But on to the rest of the weekend…on Sunday we had planned to go with our friend Jeanie and her kids to a place called Waga Waga. It’s in the same bay that Alotau is, but it is approx. an hours drive around the bay. The drive was lovely – through bits of forest and villages, and also included speed humps (some logs covered with dirt lying across the road)!

Waga Waga has a picnic spot and also a wreck of an old ship the Muscoota (which although it was a coal ship when it sank was originally a 4 masted steel hulled clipper ship launched by Queen Victoria), part of which sticks up out of the water. We got to the picnic spot and went for a swim with Jeanie and her kids, then headed off to snorkel at the wreck (unfortunately without the camera). It was a great snorkeling spot, and we can’t wait to go back and dive it when we have the chance! The wreck was covered with coral and fish, and goes quite deep, so a snorkel just whets the appetite. We even saw our first PNG cuttlefish!

We also got to snorkel around the bow which would have been where Queenie broke the champagne bottle... cool huh.

So, anyway. I’m exhausted just thinking about it all! The moral of this post – the underwater stuff here is pretty damn amazing. And this can be an advertisement for any of you who might be thinking about coming! But we do other things apart from snorkel at great places and I promise we’ll write about those soon.

Friday, June 02, 2006

State of Origin…

One of the main events in any part of Papua New Guinea is a sporting event – The State of Origin. People here are mad about their rugby – some to the point of religious fervour. League players are used to promote everything from products, to encouraging parents to vaccinate their children, and are used in the “Stop Domestic Violence” campaign. As you can imagine they are pretty influential.

Leading up to the State of Origin people start making it clear what team they support – the hype around it is similar to that of the Soccer World Cup in Australia. Seeing as very few people in PNG have been to Australia it is interesting to see how they choose the team they wish to support, but it is usually based on the NRL team their favourite player comes from (how they pick whether they like the Bulldogs or the Roosters etc. I’m not quite sure of either).

So when there is an event of this magnitude on in sleepy little Alotau, you must participate in the proper manner. Recognising this fact we donned any blue clothes we could find (Cam, Lyn, our visitor Anthony and I are all from NSW and Stan who is French, became a blues supporter by default through his relationship with Lyn. Serena was the odd one out in her support of the Maroons.)Note: Photo to follow soon*** and set off for the ‘local’ where the first game of the series was projected for the patrons viewing pleasure.

The first game of the series was a good one to watch seeing as the final score was 17-16 (Go the Blues!). As you can imagine the tension was quite high at times and there were a few harsh words exchanged, but no fights broke out, and that was nice. The patrons seemed peaceful enough at the end of the game, but even so we were more than happy to get a lift home waving the little blue “I support New South Wales” flags all the way.

N.B Is it just my imagination, or are there more pretty boy footballers these days then there used to be? Maybe it’s just the lack of the 80’s moustaches…