Sunday, February 18, 2007

Day 1: Landed in Port Moresby

[The story that leads up to my present stay in PNG is in the Australia blog]

Is it too soon to say that I'm already in love with Papua New Guinea?

PNG is worth sticking it out at the humdrum temp job in Melbourne for two and a half months, every minute of it.

Maybe I'm going through an infatuation period. I'm fascinated by its people, culture and the fact that it has 800 different languages. Melanesian women with tattoos on their faces. Beautiful dark skin and kinky hair. Colorful clothes. A sense of humor that puts travelers at ease. A car tipped over on the side of a road and a man lying nonchalantly on the grass next to it. No worries, eh? A boy, with the agility of a money, pulling a tree branch, climbing on it and coming down the trunk. No MacDonald's or Starbuck's. People sit on the back of a truck and scream wildly when go through a tunnel. People shaking hands with you even though you don't know them. They smile a lot. In Pidgin, PNG's second national language, they say "me" for "I." Although their culture is so different, the people speak English. We are "wantok" and it's a lot easier to connect with them. Imagine if the whole world speaks one language!

A brother from Bougainville, Luke, came to pick up Tim and I at Jackson's Airport, Port Moresby. I've read a bit about Bougainville. Later on, Luke's niece Priscilla told me they had a ten-year war of independence. Still hasn't won. But the PNG government at least granted them autonomy. The fight will continue, but for now, no blood is being shed...

On our first day, we got dropped off at Tony and Tasha Williams' house. They're from America. On my first night, Tasha taught me how to make pizza from scratch for the first time. I felt like being back in time when women spent hours preparing food and bonding in the kitchen. Yes, we had our kitchen-bonding talk while kneading the dough and chopping up the ingredients. Each person got to choose their own toppings. There were chicken, capsicum (bell peper), minced (ground) beef, cheese, bacon, and pineapple. I also learned to cut a pineapple for the first time and will not forget how juicy and sweet pineapples are in PNG. A slice of paradise.

The Williams lead the PNG church. Their boys Zion, 7, and Bryce,3, are the cutest things. I always feel like it's a blessing everytime I'm around children. On my first night, the boys were worried because I spent so much time in the bathroom. Well, it's just that I had the bathroom to myself, so I decided to take as long as needed. Come on girls, we all do it...

There’s no TV at Tony and Tasha’s. The tube has become an essential item in many households and for me. My excuse is I "need" to watch Lost so I can socialize with people at work. I’m amazed at how well the Williams get along without it. They talk, teach, read and play with their kids. Not a bad tradeoff, eh?

Tim stayed at Luke's. I saw him at church the next morning and, poor thing, he couldn't sleep well last night because of the heat. Well, Tim's a Tazzie boy and that explains it. The heat was pretty unbearable. I'm a warm-blooded creature and didn't mind it as much. The weather reminded me of home in Thailand, but the sun is stronger here. Mind you, when I was cooking with Tasha, we were dripping sweat!

No comments: