Monday, December 29, 2008

Links to photos

I just thought I'd point out to you, if you haven't already noticed, that in the column on the right there are links to photos. You can click on them and look at more photos that I haven't put up on my blog (and perhaps a few that are on the blog too). I recommend looking at the 'Bunabun People' photos.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas and Boxing Day

On Christmas day in the morning I went to someone’s house for breakfast, followed by a break for church and then we returned to the house. There was a group of eight of us. We each had a stocking to open, plus a couple of presents, which was really nice.

At lunchtime I spoke to my family in Australia via the internet. I have now got Google Talk and Yahoo Messenger set up, so we can make phone calls over the internet and even see each other through our webcams.

In the afternoon, I went to another person’s house for a meal. It was a small group of four people. Between eating the main course and dessert we played a detective board game which was fun.

On Boxing Day, a bunch of singles came to the Guest House (ie my place) for a ‘pot luck’ lunch. Twelve people were there altogether. I was full up after eating the main courses, then I still had dessert to squeeze in! But I managed of course!

We played a game as a big group afterwards and someone offered to help me with the dishes, which was much appreciated. I had a good day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

I hope you have a great Christmas and thank you for reading my blog. This Christmas will be different for me. Up until yesterday I didn't have any plans, but at the last minute I got some offers. In the morning at 8:30 I will be going to someone's house, then to church at 10am and back to the same house. In the afternoon I am going to another person's house at 2pm.

I have received 2 parcels that I can open tomorrow, but I will have to wait till 29th for the next mail delivery to receive some others that I know have been sent but haven't come yet.

I haven't got any Christmassy pictures from here, so here's a picture of Jyra that I took last year. She must be looking like this just now, missing me at Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I am a nomad

I have moved house already at Ukarumpa! That is the 5th time I have moved in 5 months! I think that makes me a nomad!

On Friday I moved to the managers’ flat at the Guest House. The Guest House is closed for a month, so there are no guests, and there is also no manager here either. I am just living here to make the place look occupied and thus prevent break-ins.

I am in the Guest House by myself until the 19th of January, when I will move out. I hope to be able to share with someone to keep my expenses down.

The best thing about being in the managers’ flat at the Guest House is having a microwave! I didn’t have a microwave in the previous place and I like to cook a lot of meals at once and then reheat them over the next few days so that I don’t have to cook. Before I had to heat them in the oven, but now that I have a microwave, it is much better!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Village dogs

I had a great time befriending the village dogs and puppies when I was in the village.

Our family had a female dog called ‘Banu’ who had four small puppies. Banu grew to love me – whenever I came down the stairs of the house she would come to me with her tail wagging. One day when I went back and forth to the market several times, Banu came with me wherever I went.

Here is a picture of Banu looking lovingly at me.

Me with Banu. Note the paw on me, she is asking for more pats!

Another dog in the village had two puppies born while we were there. The owners asked me to name the puppies, so I called one ‘Jyra’ and the other one ‘Dolly’.

This is me with Dolly on the left and Jyra on the right.

When we were making the sago someone had brought some puppies along too and I was happy to see and cuddle them. Here is a photo of me with two of them.

It's a hard life being a village dog or puppy. Isn't this just the saddest picture? This is one of Banu's puppies.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ukarumpa life

I have been at Ukarumpa for a week and a half now. There’s not a lot of exciting news to report from here at the moment, so I will be continuing to share about my time in the village in future posts.

We have had a few days of orientation and I have had several meals at other people’s houses. There is not a lot of work that I can do yet as I am waiting to have a meeting with a supervisor, and also because of the time of year - my department closes from 24 Dec to 2 Jan.

I am staying in a 3 bedroom unit, sharing with another single, but she will be moving out on 30th December. I would like to keep sharing with another person, either in this unit or another one, so that I can keep expenses down. I need to find someone else to share with myself.

Here is the unit I am staying in – my bedroom window is the small one on the left.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Harvesting cocoa

One day when I was in the village, I went out with our family to the garden to harvest cocoa. Cocoa is one of the cash crops in PNG – the people grow it and sell it to businesses who produce things like chocolate from it.

I had a pretty easy job when we harvested the cocoa. Papa took the cocoa pods down from the tree, our sister Rachel cut them open, and then I dug my fingers into them and pulled the beans out and put them in a big bag. It was really easy, but there was a seemingly never-ending supply of cocoa pods, so after several hours, my skin was beginning to get a bit thin. I was thankful when they insisted that I stop and rest. I think I probably did about 40kg worth of beans.

So next time you each chocolate, you can think of me helping to make it!!

Rachel cutting a pod open:

An open cocoa pod ready for me to remove the beans:

The cocoa beans that I removed (half-way through the day – I pretty much filled the bag all the way to the top!).

Some people also dry the cocoa beans in their village. At one village they had some that had been dried and we were able to eat a bean. It tasted bitter, sweet and alcoholic at the same time! I would describe it as tasting like chocolate wine, if there were such a thing.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The 'Solar'

We had mobile phone reception in the village, so I took my mobile phone with me. I realised that I wouldn’t have electricity to charge it, so I took a solar charger, which we simply referred to as ‘the solar’. It is funny to think that you can be in a village and have mobile phone reception but no electricity!

The solar went out in the sun every day. In the morning it was on a table near the path that goes past the village, then we moved it closer to the house in the afternoon and often put it on the roof of our family’s kitchen house.

The people were always very concerned about it. They were worried about it getting stolen when it was near the path, and then it started to rain and we mentioned that it was still outside, they would panic and run quickly to get it and bring it inside!

People also saw my ‘solar’ as a good way of charging their own phones for free. I didn’t mind doing that, but it was just so hard to get enough charge in the solar to keep my phone charged, never mind charging anyone else’s, so I was only able to help them out a couple of times. If they went to the local Health Centre, which has a generator, they could pay two kina to charge their phones. I didn’t have my normal charger in the village, so I couldn’t use that anyway.

Here’s my solar charging in the sun:

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Hook fishing

Twice I went fishing with a rod and hook when I was in the village. I used a small rod with a short fishing wire and a hook attached. For bait I put little pieces of shrimp onto the hook, but first I had to remove the tail and skin. My hands got all covered in yucky stuff!!

The river goes into the sea and I could fish either in the river or in the sea, but I preferred the river. To fish, I just stood at the shore and waved the rod around to throw the bait into the water and then waited for a fish to bite.

Sometimes I would get a bite and the bait would be gone, but a fish didn’t come when I pulled the hook out of the water. Other times I didn’t feel anything and the bait disappeared. Occasionally I would catch a little fish! On each of the times I went fishing, I caught two fish. The people were so happy about that and said to me, “You win!”

Here are some kids doing the sort of fishing I did:

The fish I caught:

Me with my dead fish:

Yes, they are ridiculously small and certainly nothing to brag about, but that is the kind of fish they are expecting to catch and they cook them and eat them.

I’m not experienced with cooking fish, so I gave my fish to our foster mum to cook for me. Here is the meal that she brought me with one of my fish on top.

I think the villagers eat them bones and all, but that’s not for me. I just ate the little bit of meat in the middle of the fish and gave the rest to our resident cat!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Oh, mango!!

“Oh, mango!” was a frequent sigh in the village. There were several mango trees in the village and the mangoes were ripe and fell down randomly. Often children would run and get the mango that they heard fall down. One time when I was washing my clothes one fell and hit me on the back! It hurt for a few minutes and I later ate the mango that hit me!

One time we had an outdoor church gathering under mango trees in the neighbouring village, and it was quite amusing to watch the local grown men duck and cover their heads when they heard a mango break off a tree above them.

It was nice having mangoes to eat whenever I wanted to though. Usually I share a third of a mango with my parents in Australia, but in the village I could eat a whole mango all to myself, and I could even eat two a day if I wanted to.

Here are some pictures of the ground covered in mangoes at the neighbouring village.