It’s been a long time since I had either the time, or the mental capacity to write up a new post on my blog. I think it’s safe to say that PNG looks good on us sometimes, but it isn’t without it’s challenges.We’ve now been here for the past 4+ years, and on reflection – it’s been a hell of a journey.
When we arrived up here, I had a baby, one kid just started school and the other a few years older. Next year, the baby starts school (about half a year late due to the way school starts here), our boy is in Year 6 (what is Year 7 in NZ) and the eldest is off to Boarding School…
Boarding School! holy *@#$… She’s a teenager!
We came to PNG for a 3 year adventure, it’s turned into something unexpected, but that’s what you should expect in the Land of the Unexpected. Jacinta still pines for home, but she is making the most of being able to spend time with the kids, and my job just keeps on changing. I started here managing a small team, and now have over 40 staff and a bunch of different departments to look after. Each part of your working life here in Moresby has different challenges, and mines no different. One minute I am dealing with no power (actually that happens every day), but seriously, no power, and a genset that keeps shutting down, likely to continue on for a few weeks as they try and retrofit parts to an aging and obselete main switchboard, the next minute helping someone with a mobile phone who’s only form of power is that which is at work.
Who needs power…
The past 4+ years have been very eventful. We’ve been apart of some pretty amazing things; being part of a brideprice ceremony; watch a volcano erupt; seeing a country go through 40 years of independence; watching the 15th Pacific Games in Moresby; Swimming in water warmer than the bath; Fishing in amazing waters; eating the most amazing food; having the most amazing travels.
We’ve also seen some horrible things; the gang bashing of a man and boy in East New Britain; the death of 2 little kids as they were thrown from the back of a ute at high speed; our neighbour getting vicously carjacked outside our door; the women that come to work with black eyes and sad hearts; the broken hands; the broken lives; the violence that lives just around the corner; the violence that poverty and hardship create.
But I see a country of resilience, of fight, and of swagger. A country not afraid to stand up for itself, and a country of hope. A country that is changing; rapidly; modernising. A country that is standing up and shouting “look at us – we are here”. A country that is no longer tolerating domestic abuse; no longer tolerating unlawfulness. But a country that sometimes slips back into previous times; a country that is trying hard, but needs help.
We’ve been lucky, here. We’ve faced a few obstacles, but prevailed. The kids keep laughing at me for breaking fingers and toes, 2 fingers, 1 toe in the past 2 years – not sure how that happens, but it does. I seem to have a way of tripping over anything that isn’t bolted down. This year, on top of the malaria I got a few years ago – I got the dreaded Dengue Fever. What a drama that was; being misdiagnosed with malaria, then misdiagnosed with Hepatitis, before finally being flown down to Cairns. Dengue is the worst illness, they don’t call it breakbone fever for nothing, it feels like your whole body is snapping in half.
Thankfully, we haven’t contracted TB. But we are trying to help those that have. PNG has some of the highest rates of TB in the known world, and we are raising funds for Kikori Hospital in their fight against this devestating illness.
I think living here, we (and certainly the kids) have lost our materialism, but enjoy the good things, a nice meal, travel, hearing the rain, being on the water, getting some sun. We still collect lots, but we give away as much as we get. Our’s isn’t a life where we sell a cup for a couple of dollars, ours is giving it a new home. I noticed the other day when we were at the Ela Beach Craft Markets, we didn’t bargain once. The vendors named a price, if we liked it, and liked the price – then we bought it. If we didn’t, we didn’t haggle them down – we just moved on. I think everyone knew 🙂 Some of the market vendors are people that see us, and wave – not because we are a prospective sale, but because they have seen us over and over again. The street sellers all know us by name, and people come up to us in the street to say hi (then you recognise them as the guard at work, or the girl at the chemist).
Lots of things are happening in PNG, there is lots of investment, and the city is completely changed from what it was 4 years ago – we are even getting paintball facilities!! It’s still relatively cheap to eat out, but very expensive to buy groceries. Our living costs have almost doubled in the past 4 years – but that might be due to the boy getting bigger 😉
We now have unlimited internet – although it’s very slow. But if you want highspeed, you can get it – for a price. There are 2 movie theatres, showing movies before they are released anywhere else (in 3D too). Flights to Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney, Solomons, Vanuatu, Fiji – lets hope someone does New Zealand soon! But also a huge amount of internet tourism places with cruise ships coming in and of course some of the best diving in the world.
Yes – PNG is changing. But like 4 years ago, you can still get carjacked, you need to keep your wits about you at all times, and if you do that – you can have the most wonderful experiences ever.
The hardest part of PNG, is saying goodbye. We meet so many people from this blog – some of them (looking at you Olga!) didn’t even know it was me writing this blog. hahaha
And we lose so many of them… It’s hard, saying goodbye. But we will always remember, the parties, the good times, the sad times, the frustration and the anxiety. Living here gives you all that and more – but we all dread the end, the go pinis bbq’s, the lack of another place to go. And as we live here for longer, the new expats that arrive seem to be too scared to say hello, some of them don’t fit in, sometimes we don’t fit in as well.
But still we create friends for life.
I’m currently in my 8th month of living in moresby. Been following your blog since my 1st fly in over 2 years ago. It’s been 1 hell of an adventure,coming from New Zealand to PNG is a huge shock to the system. Something a trip once a month for 2 years cannot really prepare you for. I’m now at the stage of 2nd thoughts. I was hijacked on Thursday night and forces to drive at knife point to a settlement way out of the city. Lucky for me I managed to hit my duress button and slow things down enough for help to arrive. 3 more minutes and I would have had no choice but to arrive at my destination and my intended fate.
Do I stay or do I go? I’m off for 6 weeks on the 10th so I might as well use that break to reflect and see if the whole PNG adventure is worth it. All my friends say leave but then again they thought I was mad to come in the 1st place!
PNG is an adventure, but man things can turn so quickly! Be careful out there. Desperate times for people around the festive season X
sori tru. Glad you are OK
Great post Aaron. “A land of resilience, fight and swagger”. Cheers mate. You capture well the experience of being here. A land of hope…
That it is David 🙂 thanks
Thanks for the updated post, it was just what we needed. We are an Aussie / Kiwi family arriving in January and we will have a daughter at TEMIS in Year 6. We will be coming from Borneo so we totally appreciated your sentiments! Be great to connect before we arrive. Cheers
Hi Michelle – we have a son in Year 6 so no doubt we will see each other around, good luck with the move
Been living in POM for a little bit now and was inspired by your blog to write my own – focussed on restaurants and soon food shopping in PNG. If you have any tips of what I should put up – let me know! Cheers.
nice one 🙂 often wanted to do food blogging, but I eat the food before I take the damn photo – hahaha