The real PNG

Work has been really busy the past couple of weeks, we are going through our budgets for 2012, and having only been with the company 3 months, I have spent a lot of time trying to understand what has been put against my budget over the past year. needless to say, I have foregone blogging to numbers – sigh.

One of the highlights of the last two weeks was our trip into the real PNG, eg: out of Port Moresby. We travelled with two other families (3 vehicles) to a little picnic spot just beyond Sogeri called Crystal Rapids. It was an AMAZiNG!! Journey, which took a little under an hour and elevated us up into the mountains behind Port Moresby, and into lush green countryside. The road was tight and had it’s share of potholes, and we had a map – written on the back of a small strip of paper, that only showed the Crystal Rapids turnoff – not how to get to the turnoff.. :).

We finally get there, and figured out why you can’t go up there in the wet season, it is a clay rutted road – and in the wet would rival some 4×4 courses I’ve seen… But the picnic area is awesome – we arrived very early and paid the K20 per car for entrance and took a dip in the river, had a picnic lunch and marveled at the rugby skills of the local kids, as well as the diving skills of kids diving in the rapids… Awesome!

Crystal rapids, turned out to not be “crystal” but it was a welcome relief from the oppressive nature of Port Moresby. If you go, takes lots of kina – the fruit (pineapple) was the best we have ever tasted.

I have also spent the last 4 weeks trying to get tickets back into NZ at Christmas – our 1st quote was 15,000 kina, and then I stepped in – found the cheap fares and sent them through to the agent. At 9,000 kina – I had done well… Except… They didn’t book them! Then jacked us around, until finally we got our tickets booked but at a cost of 11,500 kina.. Grrrrr – talk about how to frustrate someone! So we are all flying out on the 22nd Dec, arriving in NZ just after midnight on the 23rd, then I fly back on the 2nd Jan with JB and the kids back on the 19th. Really cool, JBs sister has caught the same flights so that will be really good.

We will be glad to be out of here for a while, temperatures today were at 35 celsius, so we are always hot and the kids are always grumpy. X3 doesn’t wear a lot of clothes, and no one wears PJ’s anymore! X2 sleeps in the buff, it’ll be interesting if he does this back in NZ!

Lastly, today is General Election time in NZ. I tried to vote today at the High Commission, but they were closed. I emailed them 3/4 days ago asking when I could vote but got absolutely no response. Thankfully, I had gotten all my info sorted so was able to vote via fax, but JB wasn’t able to. She may have thrown her vote away anyway, as none of the parties appeal to her. But it just goes to show, we are all guilty of being crap communicators!

My tok pisin is getting better, I can now understand a lot of conversations – as long as they don’t talk too fast!


Heat, Halloween, Holes

It’s been very busy here in Port Moresby, between moving into our apartment, kids birthday parties, Halloween and work…

So let’s start with the good:
Although it is hitting mid-30’s now, I am not struggling that much with the heat, although that depends entirely on what I am doing. The four flights of steps in our 3-level apartment is much easier to run up and down now, than when we first arrived. Might have something to do with the 10+ kg I have lost since being here, I am not sure if I have lost it because I am not eating junk food, or that it is being sweated out of me, or the first month or two wasn’t kind on the ole belly – but I’ll take it!

We got our first power bill the other day, and only used 500 odd units of power which would have cost less than $150 in NZ – but at 80+ toea a unit here – yes, try $250 NZD… Thankfully we are ceiling fan people, just trying to get by with little shots of air-con.. But the next 2 months where the heat and humidity really crank up – yup, that will test us!

The fantastic thing about PNG is both the expat community, and the locals. The kids have had great fun both having a pool party for Xanthe’s birthday and then going to the Aussie government compound down the road for Halloween. Sadly the people that invited us are leaving in a couple of weeks 😦
We have met lots of people, including being adopted by the Buai (betlenut) Seller that has a stand outside of our compound, and our compound guards who look after us, and us them. I often go out and spend the evening with Mark and his family, and the guards, telling stories, learning tok pisin, and having a laugh. I think some of the expats that drive past really fast are really missing out, some of them stare at me as if to say “wtf is that stupid white fella doing sitting in the dirt”, but it’s all good – I am quite safe, and Mark’s wee daughter has come out calling me “Uncle” lately – so I guess that is a sign of acceptance and familiarity.

If you ever come up here, don’t get trapped into thinking that everyone is a rascal – you will miss out on everything. I also think, that even though there is such a huge divide in how we live, our income levels etc. Most people I meet don’t begrudge the fact I sleep on a bed, whereas they sleep on a mat. At the end of the day, if you strip people back to nothing, once you can connect with someone – it doesn’t matter who they are, where they are from, or where they shop – it’s called humanity…

And let’s end with the bad: the Lae riots, killings and violence – awful! But please don’t think that all of PNG is like this. The lawlessness was a direct result of people against the thieves and pickpockets taking the law into their own hands and then getting completely carried away. Very frightening for people in Lae and I hope the government is able to permanently fix the problems,

And with that, till next time 🙂

I forgot about the Holes! Yes, our apartment now has two of the hugest holes in the stairwells where the plumbers are jackhammering the concrete to get to the water pipe that has burst. Unfortunately, the pipe has burst on the 2nd floor, and our bedrooms are on the bottom level – so yes, for the past two days we have had an indoor swimming pool in the hallway and master bedroom – what fun! Last time this happened, it took them a week to find the leak….