The worst thing you can do in Papua New Guinea

Is not appreciate this incredible place…

I took my kids kayaking yesterday. We have rented a place in sunny Waipu Cove whilst we settle back into life in NZ and the magical spot we have gives us direct access to both the estuary and the beach. There is nothing like waking up to the sound of rolling surf onto the beach, I feel almost on holiday, every day. There is a Shag that perches in the branches of a Pohutakawa Tree right in front of the dining table, and less than a metre away a Tui drinks nectar from a flower. And then the crazy fantail drunkenly flies across from one side of the vista to the other. I really appreciate being back here and seeing NZ completely differently to when we left.

So one of the worst things that can happen to you in PNG, is not appreciating what is right there in front of you. Focusing too much on the negative, and not getting out there.

We had 30+ degree heat, and yet never took the kids kayaking. We could have begged and borrowed someone’s kayak, but honestly the thought of paddling in that heat would drive me to the bar in search of a cool SP.

In 2011, we took a crazy car trip up to Crystal Rapids. It was a real simple trip, 3 cars full of kids and parents all new to Port Moresby. Jacinta and the girls happened to talk to some old codger down at the Yachty who drew a map on a piece of tissue paper. Back in 2011, Google Maps didn’t cover the Sogeri area, and we really had no idea where we were heading, but he told the girls, you’ll be fine, just follow your nose.

I then checked directions with my team at work after seeing the scrap of paper, which had a Y on it, some writing indicating a High School and that was about it.

They gave me the general direction of where to go, and told me to be careful.

So – we all head off, the intrepid travellers, with beers and bbq and kids and togs/swimmers. A great wee convoy, off out past the airport towards 9Mile.

We get to 9Mile, and it was a Y type intersection (it’s now a roundabout). I thought that was a bit too soon, Crystal Rapids was quite a bit more of a distance. So, not deterred, I pulled over to ask for directions. I found out later, that we had pulled over at 9Mile Settlement, and as indicated in my previous post, a bit of a dodgy wee spot. Never mind… a lady came up to the window and indicated that we were to just keep driving, and so off we went again. Me, in the lead – cause I knew where I was going (ha ha).

We went past the turnoff to Bomana War Cemetery (we hadn’t visited there yet), and carried on to about 15Mile, having not seen a High School, I had to admit I was a little concerned I missed a turnoff. Not wanting to look panicked, I pulled over to the side of the road and asked on old man where Crystal Rapids was… naively… he only spoke Tok Pisin, which at that stage I could only say the basic’s. “Mi go bigpla wara, yu save?”… He pointed up the road “Tenk yu tru!” And off we went again…

Finally we get up the road, Sogeri High School..finally, and here is a Y intersection. Obviously this was the one drawn on the map, not the 9Mile turnoff. It had been raining, and here we were in my company car, a little Honda CR-V, but our convoy had a Navara and a Fortuner so even if we got stuck we had no worries.

Up the hill we went, the wee CR-V sliding around in the clay and bottoming out, it was great fun – and pretty cheap to gain entry to Crystal Rapids (I think it was about K20 per car).

Crystal Rapids is a great spot, the river runs around the picnic area like a big horseshoe, and on the downstream side is a series of rapids. The local boys were running across the rapids to the other side, and then diving into what must have been a very deep pool. Lots of fun for the kids to watch. Then a game of Touch Footy started on the edge of the river, it was a bit of a hybrid game as it appeared that if you got caught with the ball close to the rivers edge, you ended up getting thrown in the water.

As we were enjoying a BBQ and a few beers, we all heard a car revving as it was coming over the hill, it was a Toyota Camry, was basically no suspension, completely full with people. How they got that over there, I have no idea – but I can’t imagine how they were going to get it back…

Unfortunately our time was cut short as a bunch of drunkards arrived and decided they wanted our spot. We quickly decided to avoid any agro and just leave. Yes – it can ruin the weekend, but you get idiots everywhere in the world, and sometimes it’s just easier to go.

Heading back over to Sogeri Village, we all stopped to buy pineapple on the side of the road. You have not had pineapple until you have eaten Sogeri Pineapple, and then you will never what to eat “tinned” or store bought pineapple again. Simply delicious!

The view coming back from Sogeri (which is elevated up a valley) is magical. And the drive down is a lot quicker than the drive up.

I don’t think I really appreciated the magic of Sogeri until reflecting on that trip up there. It was a great day with new friends – I’m glad I bluffed the whole “I know where I am going” speech. And I’m glad the we got to appreciate a little bit of paradise just out of Moresby.

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