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.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Driving Skills Tested

I have now completed a trip off to beautiful Madang. It was a good experience, but I am not too sure if it is a road that I would really want to travel along everyday, as some of the bus drivers do. The road is pretty good, apart from the odd pothole all the way until Usino (if you have a map it is where road changes direction from the north-west route to north-east) then it starts to climb over small mountains, and is mostly unsealed. Lets just say that the 70km stretch was a good test of the driving skills, as it had been raining for five days straight. On the bad sections it was a case of plough through and find the smoothest path, no time to take pictures. The ute which is as good as they get in PNG, struggled up some of the 20° inclines with the load of computers I had on the back and the full cabin, mostly finding being happy in second gear. Down the other side of the hills it was more of a case of hoping the brakes don't give out, as even in second I had to rely a lot on them.

Robin giving the ute a wash

Madang itself is a pretty town based around a peninsular. It is very green and pretty clean. But as I said there had been a fair amount of rain there over the last week, so a couple of trees had fallen over in the soft earth. Apparently it had been raining since Sunday with no let up before finishing an hour before we arrive on Thursday. Friday was perfect weather, if not too bloody humid with all the water about, and the fact the that room I was in setting up computers had no ventilation let alone fans or air conditioning which was a bit much. The room is going to be renovated into a proper computer lab after the start of next semester, once there is the money to do it. At the moment the PC's are just going to be used for tutors only. At some point they are going to fly me back up once they have things a bit better organised so that I can configure things. This trip was mainly to deliver some of the second hand computers to them so that they are doing something, instead of occupying my second bedroom as a lot are doing at the moment.

I met up with some volunteers in Madang, quite a few are from VSO (the brit mob) so I was told by the local VSO people here to get in touch with them, which I did. There is no one there at the moment from AVI, so I had to contend with poms. It was all good but and it was good to meet some new people. I have told them all that if they come to Lae to look me up.

The 5 hour trip back on Saturday was pretty similar to the one there, but with less equipment in the back. It didn't stop us though from buying (not me) hoards of stuff along the way at the roadside markets. Sago and big bags of coconuts seemed to be the popular choice. We also had an esky full of fish that, Tony (husband of Admin lady in our department who came for the ride) had caught with his in-laws on Friday, they gave me a couple of them which I now have to cook soon.