Finally, a car-jacking in Port Moresby

Blogging can be a bit of a blessing and a bit of a curse. The great thing, is that it is therapeutic to get something off your mind and down on paper. The other side – is that sometimes I just don’t want to write, no matter how many months go by – I start, I finish, I read what I wrote, I delete it – it’s not what I wanted to write.

On August 18th, I officially completed 5 years here in PNG. It seems a lifetime, and in fact for one of my kids – it basically is. She doesn’t remember our dog, our cat, our house, she remembers nothing of her previous life – but she was only 1 when we arrived. 
In 5 years, we have had our share of ups and downs. So many people have left – do they miss PNG? I’m sure they do.

Our downs have been bad, but we’ve come out of them with a big of anger, and sometimes just a laugh. Like the time Xavier and myself were driving down the road to do some fishing, and some idiot decided to throw a big rock at my ute. I swerved and almost collected him with the back side of the ute as the rock went sailing over us – still not sure who got the biggest fright, me (watching a rock get thrown at us), the idiot who threw the rock (as he was a second from being crushed by my ute), or Xavier (who thought we were doing wheelies). Or the time that my mate Troy and myself drove one of my company fleet cars down the road so he could see how they drove. A little Ford Fiesta, most likely the smallest car in PNG – and some idiot decides he wants to run out from the side of the road and swing a big massive pole at the car…. And it went straight over the top – missing us… The damage that could have happened if we were in the 4×4… I can only imagine! hahaha lucky!

And as I gradually creeped to the 5 year mark, I hadn’t given any thought to the fact that I had never been robbed nor carjacked, and then it happened – the Monday before my 5th anniversary and “wrong place, wrong time”.

I saw it coming, just after 8 at night, walking to my car – I just unlocked it as I approached, and they ran out of the road that leads to a local settlement. They were fast, and aggressive. I also tell everyone, just don’t worry – if you are in that situation, just hand everything over. But I didn’t. They looked very aggressive, and I quickly opened the door to my car and jumped in, one of them got the door handle and I wrestled it closed and hit the lock – really fast. I heard someone on the other side of the car – I had made it in time. Then I turned back to the guy on my side after hearing him yell at me and something banging against the window. He had a gun. He started banging it against the glass the barrel pointed at my head – trying to smash it. Breathe – calm – breathe – think – make noise – I yelled at him “FUCK YOU!” and pushed down on the horn. The gun was still there, he was pissed off. Breathe – keys – ignition – start – hold horn – no one helping – guards not coming – car started – in gear – accelerate – handbrake on – breathe – off handbrake – accelerate… they ran off behind me into the darkness. So fast…

I drive to where there are guards, they are hiding, I find more – yell at them. Breathe – adrenalin is cranking through my body. I try ringing my mate Simon who was just leaving too – no answer, I try again – still no answer. Somehow I have arrived at home – I don’t remember.

I walk into the house – Jacinta didn’t hear me. She finally spots me and asks if I have been drinking… no – I don’t tell her what happened for 2 days. I must have been wired. I get in touch with friends, they are rounding the rascals up – found out a lady got robbed. There were gunshots – I check my car – no holes. Breathe. I could have stopped that lady from being robbed – I can’t sleep – all I can see is the barrel of the gun pointing at my head – all I can think about is why I didn’t make sure no one else got robbed. Two days later – I’m pissed off and angry.

Colleagues asking if I pressed the duress button – breathe – another, are you alright? – breathe – I just need to internalise it and deal with it – breathe – normally, I would be the one helping them, so I just need to refocus and … breathe. It’s good medicine to breathe🙂

I tell my son Xavier, I haven’t told my daughter who is in Boarding School in NZ – she will read all about it on here. (I am OK – really!🙂 ) – Xavier basically shrugged his shoulders, he knew it may happen at some stage. What a trouper.

The next week – I am back there. There are only 2 choices for carparks, one is where I parked the week before. I park elsewhere. Not having a panic attack, but I am anxious. I am watching everyone.

I leave – and ask a guard to escort me to my car. A kid comes up and starts gobbing off at me – breathe. I feel wired again.

I drive around the corner, and here is a police checkpoint. I know that they are armed, and just doing their job – but it doesn’t make me feel any better. Breathe. I wind the window down and give the officer my drivers license, he checks it and says “thank you Mr Aaron, have a gud nite” – where was he last week!

I’m fine, but I’m not. So many people find themselves in these situations and don’t get away. I don’t know if it was dumb luck, my own stupidity, or they might have thought I was crazy… Either way, it was a wake-up call to remember – shit can happen anywhere and anytime. Here in PNG we are more exposed, poverty is so high, and it’s distressing thinking that these young men have to resort to violence to just get by. It makes me angry. I wish I could grab the little buggers and make them see that the life they are living will one day end – next time, they might rob someone who just shoots them.

I’ve always kept a balanced viewpoint of our life here in PNG. And always maintained that the majority of issues are “wrong place, wrong time” opportunistic.
And yes – it’s scary having a gun pointed at you, even worst when it is at your window pointing at your head less than 20cm away. But it also reminds me that so many people here live below the bread line – it’s sad. Such an unsustainable future.

How do we stop young Papua New Guineans from this way of life? I’d like to say I’m now sleeping well, but I’m not. I now worry that the young guy with the gun has been beaten by police/guards or worst. A week ago – I felt nothing for him, now I worry. Is it his fault that he may be uneducated, living under a tree, fearful of noises in the night, worried about how he was going to eat tomorrow? His options in life are slim, he may die of malaria, other gangs, or at the hands of people catching him, sickness, or starvation.

I feel sad.

PNG National Game Fishing Titles

The week leading up to Easter is the annual Papua New Guinea National Game Fishing Titles.  This year the Titles are being held in beautiful Rabaul.  As some of you may have read earlier, our last trip to Kokopo and Rabaul ended on a bit of a low note, so flying to the Titles with Xavier is a bit of redemption for us.  Yes, that’s right – Xavier and myself fishing the Titles in East New Britain!  How many people have this opportunity?

We are fishing with our good friends Simon and Amanda on their boat that was shipped from Port Moresby free of charge by one of the sponsors Consort.  Big ups to Consort and the rest of the sponsors.

This morning, full of excitement I woke at 3am, and after lying their for a while just got up for the day.  One of my boys was scheduled to pick us up at 8:15am which is quite early for our 11am flight, but karma must have been happening as the checkin system at Domestic was down, and it was a very slow process getting everyone on planes manually.  A bit of light handed banter with some of the checkin girls and we had a counter more or less opened for us and skipped the queues.  Amazing what a smile, a no worries, and a helpful attitude does – they really went out of their way to make sure Xavier and myself got on the plane, but some nice seats too, and special fragile stickers for my fishing rods.  I just happened to ask if I could take them as carry on, but I got told that I couldn’t take them on as the could be used as a weapon, only to fish maybe🙂. So the smiles only got me so far…

Plane was delayed leaving, as the automated manifest system was down.  There is nothing like sitting for 45 min in a metal box on the Sunny side, when it’s 35deg cel outside and we are all starting to sweat… Yummy!

The flight to Kokopo has ended up being uneventful, but I took this photo on the coastline after going over the Owen Stanley Range

  
  
And of course to get me in the PNG mood, I’m listening to Sheppard.  Sheppard is a band loosely out of Australia, but has its roots here in PNG – fantastic sound and if you haven’t heard of them you need to go buy a CD.

We are staying at the famous Rabaul Hotel, after an aborted booking at the Travelodge.  The Travelodge didn’t turn out to be suitable for us, and Amanda got us into The Rabaul Hotel with the manager Susie really bailing us out of the shit.  Although, we could always bunk down at work🙂

Really looking forward to the trip and the fishing, hopefully I bore you all silly with tall tales of the ones that got away and awesome pictures of the ones that didn’t🙂

Aaron

Port Moresby for Kids

As you may know (from looking at the About Me section) or you may not, we live here in Port Moresby with our 3 children, which is technically 2 children since one of them is now in Boarding School back in Auckland. There are plenty of things that the kids can do here in Moresby, including the after school activities that the school puts on (it varies a lot from term to term) as well as music lessons after school (our 2 big kids have both had 4 years of piano and a year of guitar) All very reasonably priced, and with good positive enforcement is a great way for the kids to occupy themselves.

The kids also have lots of playdates at other compounds, sleep overs are very common (both for our sanity as well as theirs).

Just the other weekend, the kids had Pee Wee Fishing at the RPYC Gantry with the Port Moresby Game Fishing Club https://www.facebook.com/Port-Moresby-Game-Fishing-Club-210181435820846/?fref=ts

It’s a great day, the club provides the rods, and sponsors provide food, drink, bait and prizes. Only lasts for a couple of hours – first Saturday every month from 2pm to 4pm

Then Xavier on Sunday was out at the Golf Club http://www.royalpomgolf.com/ where they are teaching juniors how to play.

There is also Pee Wee sailing at the Yacht Club http://www.RPYC.com.pg, which also hosts POMSAC – the snorkle and diving group.

If your kids are into water sports, the Port Moresby water-ski club has reformed https://www.facebook.com/POMWaterSports/?ref=ts&fref=ts and they have some gear for kids.

There is also the bushwalkers club, the Port Moresby Game Fishing club, as well as the Boroko Fishing Club (river fishing mainly).

The kids will also enjoy the Adventure Park at 14 mile where they have a couple of Hydro-Slides, or the Nature Park towards Gerehu where they can see Cassowary, Crocodiles and the Bird of Paradise.

There is also 2 Cinema complexes, some theatres in full 3D showing the latest (eg: before any other country) movies.

You could also take them down to Black Rock Kite Surfing (or just flying a kite), up to Sogeri to either Crystal Rapids for a sim (and some tubing) or over to Koitaki Country Club to ride the horses.

They also get to stay at home, and chill out in the pool with their mates, play nerf tag, and ride skateboards and bikes around the compounds.

There is also organised sport like Soccer and Netball, and if they are good swimmers – there are opportunities to represent the school.

The children, when they are bigger – can even do a PADI Dive course here and take up Scuba Diving – then the whole of the PNG opens up…

There are Motorcycle clubs (offroad) as well as Hash House HArriers and Road Runners (the running clubs – kids welcome).

They meet friends for life, and enjoy an international freindship. Not bad here being a kid🙂

Wantok’s

Wantok (One Talk), or in Kiwi Whanau, sometime mates, cuzzies etc.

Here in PNG, everyone has Wantok’s.  Once you arrive in the Land of the Unexpected – you too will have Wantok’s (unless you are a dickhead – then you get to talk to no-one; No Wantok).

It’s pretty awesome how living a life abroad both diminishes your family, but can create another one.

Shout out to thank our Wantok’s for being our Wantok’s. 🙂

Places and Compounds to know around Port Moresby

OK – so I haven’t got quite to “Part 2” yet, but I did whip this little map up the other day and forgot to post it…

This is a “general view” of the town area in Port Moresby. So, if you are an Aussie High Comm person coming up and you will be living at Kone, then check the map🙂 . Likewise, all your shopping might be at the Waterfront ..

Hope this helps with some prospective expats to PNG, and if you want some more detail, please give me a holler.

Port Moresby Compound Locations

Locations of Compounds in Port Moresby – town area