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, November 22, 2004

Salamaua Without Malaria

I am now back at the Uni after a great weekend was had over at Salamaua.

I would definitely say it was better than the last time there. Not because of the huge party including midnight swim and attempted sleeping on a beach. Not because of the beautiful weather, swimming off from and paddling an out-rigger canoe. And not because of the use of creative expression in making a film but simply because this time I didn't have Malaria!

Salamaua is such a fantastic place to hang out. Great beach, clean water, absolutely fantastic scenery and not to mention the great company. It is just a shame the company will be shortly heading out of there and back to the UK.

Helen is coming back though and will be living in Port Moresby next year at an International School earning something ridiculous like 18 times her volunteer salary. Wendy is staying back home in cold dreary London for what I am sure will be a massive reverse culture shock before surprisingly enough taking a course in film making (something which I have been encouraging her to do for six months, good to see that it will now happen).

As to the events I have alluded to, well Saturday was a chill out sort of day, hung around H & W's house, "storying" with Wendy, while Helen did a day trip to Lae to get her flights back to the UK sorted. In the afternoon we scoped out the locations for the shoot, which was still on for Sunday.

The scopeing basically consisted of us hacking our way through a sago swamp, looking for some sort of dark and dank hole for us to inflict onto Roger. What we found was more of a "leafy or viney grotto" to use Rogers term when he saw in on Sunday.

Later I got to see the world of the rich ex-pats partying. Certainly an eye-opener. At least we managed to arrive at it in true volunteer style - by canoe.

Wendy had organised the hire of one from the village across the bay from the ex-pats houses on the spit. So on dusk Wendy and me trundled down and grabbed it. Helen had decided not to come and just have a quiet night at home with her national teacher b/f, AJ. This was the source of much amusement later for obvious reasons.

On the canoe, after the usual go in circles style for a bit, we eventually got it straighten and slowly made the half hour or so trip over. We dragged the canoe up the beach at someone's house and made sure it was OK there before we went found the party. I must have looked a sight walking in with two paddles perched on top of my shoulder, we were not even sure if we were invited. We soon found Roger and the others and quickly got into the swing of things. Drunkenness occurred quickly, more so for some more than others.

Some of the ex-pats were completely hammered by the time we got there, including the guy who was leaving, Captain Tim. It seems they had started at the yacht club at 11 that morning and then of course continued on the boat over until when we arrived. One ex-pat was not the kind of drunk I usually like to hang out with. Afterwards I nicknamed him "fridge" as he was the size of one but not as smart - at least in a fridge the light comes on. It was the first time most of the group had met him, but that didn't stop him nearly causing a few blues. At one point he called Wendy a "bitch" to her face, which no doubt offended her and the rest of us, it would have been unwise to try something with all his equally massive mates there so we just let it pass. But in true Wendy style later she went and sat next to him while he was alone on the beach and had a heart-to-heart to discuss the real reason for his bitterness.

Later there was the stupid idea of dragging one of the pilots off and attempting to throw him in the water. Unfortunately he was a big bloke as well, and when the three of us carrying him got to the water edge, which was at the low point in a wave cycle, a wave broke and we all got washed in. Not sure if it was because I was drunk or if it was normal, but the water was superbly warm.

No change of clothes for me so I was drip-drying for the rest of the night, which made it difficult to try and sleep anywhere later. The breeze kept me shivering, no matter if on the beach or on the lounge. But by the sounds of it I got a much better sleep than other people trying in the big bunk bed room at the back. Fridge decided to keep everyone else awake in the room by talking in his sleep to his 12 imaginary friends, one of whom was a fish. Turns out there was no bitterness in him, he was just completely long-long (mad).

Sunday morning was tough. Originally we were worried if we were going to be able to get organised in time to get the shoot finished. We shouldn't have. With all the movement and noise in the house through-out the night and Captain Tim pulling an all nighter - impressive work, those Army guys must train hard - we were all up not-so-bright and early. I saw the pre-dawn and the sun rise, which I can't say I have done often, let alone on a Sunday.

We got our canoe towed back behind Alex's company's boat, which was fun. Roger disembarked at the high school while the boat roared off to the Yacht club. Later after coffee, a wash and a rest we got organised for the shoot.

Roger got his costume and got muddied up and we did his dank hole scene first. Then the water scenes followed including the Mangi's scene of them splashing around. We did the canoe scenes after and then, Wendy and me paddled it all the way back to the owners house which took about 2 hours. I don't think it helped that Wendy decided to swim alongside for a way and then when I had my turn she couldn't keep it straight and ended up going around in circles so therefore I had to swim back to her.

Anyway, by the end of the day Wendy's back looked like a cooked lobster, I was completely had it from all the paddling/lack of sleep and Roger kept nodding off in his chair while we had dinner.

Roger and me got up brighter and early this morning and with the company of Helen went down to the village to get a banana boat back. I felt sorry for the owners of the boat we originally jumped onto, which had a big 75 horsepower engine (usually they are 40hp), as we jumped ship when we stopped to get fuel at another village and boarded the high school boat that showed up with AJ on board. We managed to get a free lift out of it, which is always good.

It was certainly a great weekend and probably the best I have had while being here. Later I shall post some pics of the shoot yesterday.