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.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Quakes, Shadows and Ducks to Water

I felt my first real shake last night. I was sitting at my new computer (more about that later) and suddenly the house started to tremor. Patches (who I am looking after at the moment) got up and barked and then it was over. It only lasted about 5 seconds, but it was the first time that I have actually acknowledged that that was an earth tremor. Previously I had felt small shakes but they had not been that significant to even worry about. I am surprised that I have not felt anymore significant ones as I am right on top of a fault here. Bruce, who is a cousin of Dad's through marriage, and are currently in the country - a nostalgic return as they lived here in Lae in the early '80s - said that once when they had a quake, he looked outside and saw a wave go across the lawn. Haven't seen that yet, but I sure it would be a cool sight, as long as the building you are in doesn't collapse.

A bit of my time now has been spent setting up my new iBook. I bought it on the Apple website and got it delivered to the oldies. Bruce and his wife Cheryl kindly brought it up here when they arrived last week. They stayed at Martins next door, and looked after his place while he was away with his wife in Madang. It is mid year break at the moment here at Uni so everyone is taking holidays, getting visitors and going places. I wont be doing the holiday thing though, not until September at least when Mum comes and visits me. Will be off for 3 weeks then, and guess I will take her on a bit of a trip around the country.

Seeing as Martin has been away I have had to look after his dog, Patches. This has not been particularly hard, but it is a bit painful as she is like a shadow, and wont let me out of her sight. To stop her coming down to the office in the morning, I have to pretend to head out the backdoor, wait till she is outside, close it on her and then head out the front door. Today I took pity on her and brought her along, so she is currently waiting for me outside the office door. Not sure how is she going to react when Martin comes back, hopefully she will completely forget me and go back to following him like a shadow. Not that I don't like her, but it is a bit much at times.

Bruce and Cheryl, have not been your average tourists, in fact they are doing things that I have not had the nerve to do yet. They arrived last Wednesday and came straight to my place. Then on Thursday, they took off and like a duck to water, jumping on the PMVs, touring the town, walking through the main Market taking photos, getting told by everyone left, right and centre that this is not safe to do, being followed by security guards in case they become a target, being looked after by some random punter at a PMV stop, taking them to where they want to go and making sure they arrive safely (in fact this has happened to me quite a bit as well). It is surprising how many times people will go out of their way to help you. I think they think just because you are white, you have no idea how things work. Perhaps we don't, but you can usually get by with your instinct - though sometimes our instincts need to be honed especially if yo have never been to a third world country before.

Crime usually makes all the headlines, but 99% of the people will do as the above and go out of their way to help. I got stuck in town once, trying to catch a PMV back, a guy pulled up and asked where I was going, I said to Unitech and he took me out and dropped me off. Did not know the man from a bar of soap. This would not happen in Australia or any other western country, as there is fear on both sides. Fear that the guy in the ute could be an Ivan Milat, and fear that the person needing the lift is just as bad. Here there is still suspicion, but because of the colour of my skin, I am not touted with that. Someone who stops and offers me a lift, I know that they are pretty genuine.

The suspicion here though between the locals is pretty bad. Due to all the raskol activity, everyone thinks everyone else is a pickpocketer at the Market or PMV stop, or someone who is going to cut the fence to Unitech and rob a house (actually this happened last week in my street - no houses were robbed though).

Anyway B & C have been having a good time. They headed off to Madang on Saturday morning, not having a place to stay before they went. Hopefully they found somewhere, in fact I am sure they did as I have not hear from them. I gave them a few contacts in case they got stuck and the address and number of a nice little resort that is up the coast a bit. They will be back here in the next couple of days though.