On Sunday we went to the annual RPYC (that’s the Yachty) Christmas party at Fishermans Island. If you have a boat, then it’s a nice trip out of Fairfax Harbour and across to Fisho’s. Unfortunately, we don’t have a boat, and haven’t been invited on one… Note to new expats that read my blog, and come over and buy a boat – we have kids, but we’d still like to come for a cruise!
So, Jacinta hasn’t been over there and I have only once. We went across on a Steamships barge, which was pretty cool. On the way we past a guy on an upright paddle board paddling his way across. This is no small feat, it must have been easily in the mid 30′s and it is quite a distance, 45 minutes on the barge…
We had a great day, it was very hot, and since it was a family day – we left the booze back in Moresby . Santa came and visited, and basically we just soaked in the beautiful clear water. We honestly felt that we were in a beautiful island paradise – and of course we were
The next day I woke up to a fully sunburnt body, including the tops of my hands. Very sore! And then to top it off, Deliotte Tower lost a circuit breaker which meant no AC, water or lifts…
Oh to be back on the island!
It’s getting very hot now – I’m really looking forward to cooler weather back in New Zealand at Christmas!
Heres some Photos: Xanthe and Xaria waiting in the shade
Today, officially – I have been in PNG for 12 months. So far – it has been an amazing journey, all be it frustrating at times
From a work perspective, my IT team has grown immensely – I am very proud of their achievements. When I arrived, they didn’t have a lot of real world IT direction, and now they are on track building their careers and enjoying what they do. I am very satisfied, that my team has had zero turnover – they obviously see the real benefit in my mentoring approach.
We have achieved a lot, including Project Management Frameworks, Change Management Policies right through to our technical projects. This year we deployed Windows 7 Enterprise and Office 2010 to 180 odd clients, migrated from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange, and deployed Sharepoint 2010. We have done heaps of work on disaster recovery, have moved into a Virtual world with Hyper-V and are gradually pulling things back into a framework that Papua New Guineans can manage – such as moving from Pervasive SQL to Microsoft SQL. This might seem odd – but it’s important here to ensure that systems are self managed using locally developed skills. In general, it is very expensive to access the internet, use power or even buy a PC – so the type of research that we would do in New Zealand is decidedly difficult here.
On the home front, Jacinta and the kids have settled into PNG life. Xaria (our youngest) is off to the lik lik pikinini school (little kids school) on the 20th of August, and both Xavier and Xanthe have made good friends in their respective classes. Both the two big kids are on the advanced side with schooling, with Xavier being an almost straight A student and Xanthe not too far behind. I was very proud when Xanthe was told to stop reading school supplied books after school. She has been reading some of our fantasy novels that we have at home and Xavier is part way through The Hobbit. Not bad for a 9 and a 7 year old…
We now get cold when it is 24 degrees, and the pool at our compound looks rather fresh – I hope it warms up soon! Our social life is pretty hectic with the weekends generally full starting with the Friday drinks…
Of course – we enjoy being Kiwi’s here, and make sure that we shout it out… Today, I am wearing an All Blacks top to work – just to piss off the Aussies. And on Monday, when we win the rugger this weekend – I’ll be wearing Black business attire, just to rub it in some more
We have made many friends here – and lost some to ended contracts – but not lost for good… Expat life in PNG can be tough at times, and good at other times – it can be very isolating…
Our life is luxurious compared to how some Papua New Guineans live, but in general – I think we have a better quality of life in New Zealand. We do have a house keeper here (Maria – Our Haus Meri) but more for the fact that we are employing someone, than any real need. It also does mean that Maria can babysit on the odd (so far once) occasion that we go out with no kids.
I think some of the frustrations I have here – is with the Sir Michael Somare coined phrase “Boomerang Aid” that is prevalent. I don’t really get why Aid workers are on such high, untaxed salaries, except that it sets them up back home for the future. It would be interesting to look at all monetary aid in PNG and find out the percentage that actually hits the community. Even so, some of our friends work for Defense and AusAid – and are wonderful people with amazing jobs and attitudes. I just wish the Aussie government would grow a pair and review the methodology in aid packages.
I’d also really appreciate anything from the IT community out there to help me develop my team. Literature, magazines, software etc. Anything physical can be mailed to:
Aaron Bird, PO Box 1141, Port Moresby, NCD 121, Papua New Guinea
Appreciate anything you can throw our way J I don’t mind that it takes 2 months to get here
Above all – thanks for continuing to read my blog
I looked at my blog the other day… Holy shit, I hadn’t blogged in quite a wee while, and there has been so much excitement going on here in Moresby… Need to get my mojo back … busy busy work and life – you know… It has been very hard over the past few months with malaria, but my energy is starting to return – and the memory is improving…
So, where to start – the freeway is open (temporary bridge), the kids went on school holidays and are now back at school, every Wednesday night! Peter and myself try our luck at winning prizes at the RPYC ( we sink a few beers as well ). I have been told that I am responsible for making Port Moresby sound like paradise ( viewpoint people ), I have finally got 2 weeks holiday booked in June ( Gold Coast baby ), I had most of my team around for a BBQ and drinks – which turned into a 1:30am finish with Xavier giving up his bed, and a spare brought out too. That night there was a shoot out just down on the main road in front of us. Bang! ”gunshot” “yup” Bang! Bang! Bang! “police” “oooohhhhhh”. Yeah – it was one of those funny drunken conversations with not many words…
this week we had about 10000 people march on parliament as the government had voted last week to defer the elections. Even though it was a peaceful march, it was marred by rioting by thugs, looting, rock throwing and general unlawfulness (around the edges, by rascals taking advantage of the situation). It started at Koki, just down the road from home, so sent a text to Jacinta “riots at Koki, tell all to stay home”. She got the message
the funniest thing happened the other day. Xaria had wandered up the stairs headed for the garage (our apartment is upside down), when she started screaming. So I wander over and check and she is looking at me, still screaming. Up the stairs I go to calm her down, and once I got to her she started looking down the stair and kept on screaming. I looked down the stairs into the lounge, and there was a toy frog, you know – one of those oversize ones that you get at toy shops, sitting on the floor. So I yelled out to Xavier to pick up his toy, he comes out and starts yelling FROG! I pick Xaria up, go down the stairs and find Jacinta climbing up onto the kitchen bench screaming (she doesn’t do bugs). It wasn’t a toy! But it was bloody HUGE… I put it outside – no harm done, but the older kids keep teasing Xaria with “where’s the frog”… lol. She is going to turn out like her mother…
Enough for now,
Later – Aaron
With the current political situation here in PNG, rather than blog about it, I thought that a good way of finding information out is to use trusty old twitter.
I think the local Papua New Guineans are exercising fantastic restraint given what has been happening here in the past few months. I personally have no view on what is going on, it is far too complex for me to even make comment, but I do like to be well informed.
Anyway, here is the big PNG twitter list.
Firstly – me: @aaron_bird
But I am a little boring…!
OK, I could trying doing links, but you know how this works, go to http://www.twitter.com and put in the @name
I know – I’ve missed heaps, but I’ll just keep adding – OK
Hope that keeps you up to date,
One of the problems with Malaria – is if you don’t kill the little bastards, they stay in your system… So to cut a long story short, the other day I started to feel under the weather… Again. One of my guys, Jono – had a cold, so I just assumed that given my immune levels were down with the Malaria 2 weeks ago – that I was just picking up his bug… Until yesterday, when I realized that I didn’t have a runny nose etc. so, popped down to the pharmacy, and asked them if they had any malarial medicine that I could buy (self diagnosed) as I thought that it felt like I hadn’t got rid of it from round 1. But because I couldn’t tell them what I had already taken, they weren’t keen on just giving me the same thing. Instead, I got some multi-vitamins and iron tablets to try give the ole body a bit of a boost. They suggested I go back to the doctors and get another blood test…
I left work right on 5pm as I wasn’t really feeling right, did some grocery shopping on the way home, and was in bed rather early (for me).
Then last night I got the sweats, started spacing out, dizzy, nausea… And really really tired.
This morning, back to the doctors for more bloods, including dengue (just in case). And surprise surprise – I still have malaria, however now, they have doubled in numbers – which is why I now have all the crap that I didn’t get in round 1.
So last time I was prescribed Artesunate and Fansidar which are generally prescribed for the specific nasty malaria that I got. The doctor called it failed medication, so prescribed something a bit stronger: Coartem. This is a Artemether and Lumefantrine mixed drug, that the doctor said wasn’t available in their in house pharmacy (POM Private Hospital) and costs about K600 from Johnson’s Pharmacy. Bloody hell that’s expensive… So mt consult ended up costing K400, plus K300 for last time, and then K600 for meds… This is why Malaria will never be eradicated! K1300 is highway robbery, and not something that is easily affordable by local Papua New Guineans. She did say that City Pharmacy might have it cheaper, so Jacinta took me to Vision City to go to City Pharmacy. Sadly, they dont stock it either. So off to another pharmacy, again – no luck. We were off to Johnson’s when we went past Chem Care – which looked like a dodgy little pharmacy, off the freeway at Gordon’s (down by PNG Art). Stopped in there, and they didn’t stock the Coartem, but had an exact substitute called Coatal (made in China – hope it doesn’t kill me) – cost K34…. Bargain! Bought!
I like saving K560, but In reality, I was feeling really bad by this stage – so think that if they had some miracle drug I would have just bought it so that I could get home…
So there we have it, back on meds, back off work. Damn Malaria!