An Australian volunteer who was doing whatever volunteers do in PNG.
I was there for 2 years until Dec 2005 .. I hope I made the most of it.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Settling In

I have now been here for more than a week and I am starting to settle into the pace of life here, which is pretty laid back. I am now in Lae after flying over from Port Moresby on Saturday. And I started my job at the Uni yesterday. Though so far I have not done a hell of a lot, just the usual start of a new job stuff like ID cards, forms, bank accounts etc.

My house is pretty cool, I have a little 2 level, 2 up, terrace style place on the campus grounds that is about 15 minutes walk from the office. I haven?t moved in yet as power and other things are still being sorted. So I have been staying at the Uni Guest house which is pretty good, as I get my meals all cooked for me.

It is hard to get over how lush and green everything is coming from dry and dusty Oz. Lae gets something like 4500mm every year, but so far it has not rained here yet. Apparently when it does, it can last for weeks. An umbrella is on the shopping list. It is also pretty hot, especially when the sun is out. I went for a walk yesterday morning and went I got back I was dripping with sweat, I am getting used to it though. As I knew it would be, the humidity is the killer.

Port Moresby was as everyone had informed me is a bit of dump. The first thing that you notice is the tall fences topped with razor wire everywhere. The second thing you notice is the red spit stains on the ground from everyone chewing Buai (or Bettle Nut), it is a pretty disgusting habit that a lot of people have. Black teeth and a red mouth are a pretty common sight.

The course that we did in Moresby for the first week, was useful but laid back. We learnt a bit of Tok Pisin (Pidgin) and useful phrases etc, that we put into use on a field trip to a Market via PMV (public motor vehicle). The best part was spending time with the other Australian volunteers I came over with and hitting the pool at the motel at the end of the day.

We did a few touristy things, not that there is much of that to do there. We saw the National Parliament and sat in the viewing gallery for a session. Pretty boring. We went to the National Library, a bit depressing as they had no money and could not even get the air-conditioning fixed, therefore the books were starting to mould. The National Museum I have heard is good, but when we arrived the security guard had gone home after locking the main door. It seems no one else had a key to let anyone inside. Stories like this are pretty common over here. For example, another good one is one day during a session of the National Parliament, the building went into blackout, apparently the power company turned off the power after they had forgot to pay their bill.

My boss is a great guy, he came and picked me up from Lae airport on Saturday and took me to the uni guest house. Then we went into a club in town that he was a member of and we sunk quite a few of the local beer SP Lager (the beer slogan written in pidgin is pretty funny, "nambewan bia"). We chatted about the job and everything else, like family etc. Everyone here seems to have a big family, which is not really surprising. He also picked me up on Sunday and we went for a drive up towards Wau (where gold was first discovered) and visited a village on the way back. No one was home though as the village Volleyball championships were taking place, that was an amusing sight. He is also a big hiker, so he is going to organise a trip up Mt Wilhelm at Easter, which is the highest mountain here at 4500m, and a possible Kokoda track attempt early next year. The Kokoda track is a pretty serious adventure that usually takes most westerners between 7 & 10 days. In Moresby I met some locals who had done it in 3 days.