19-10-2007 PNG Louisiades 2 English

Papua New Guinea  Louisiades (2)

Dear friends and landlubbers,

We just returned to Bagaman and we recover a while from all happenings before. Despite the dark clouds around us we decide to move on to the Isle of Pananumara. Gone Surfin’ is already there and we spend again some nice days together. Todd takes me fishing and despite the enormous distance we cover pulling lures, we don’t catch anything. He’s got a wonderful collection very interesting coloured lures, he teaches me a lot except how to catch a fish. Lucky enough he is a master in preparing crayfish and there is still some left in their deepfreeze. The people on this island are not the friendliest we’ve met and sometimes they push it to the limit. We are already on the road for a while and can handle that but it’s not real fun and we decide to go to the Isle of Gigila. We drop the hook at a wonderful anchorage and there is always a nice cool breeze. We deliver a package of another boat in the village and we meet again most kind people and more children you can imagine. After a few days we’ve seen it here and we go further to the east  to Wanim (Grass Island). In fact this is the first island where we were not attacked by canoes with traders. The island is beautiful and we hike a lot there. All villages look very much the same by now but here we’ve got the impression that people here care a bit more and are a bit more disciplined. Every time we go hiking a big bunch of children is waiting for us to come back. They sing songs for us and most of them have a musical gift so they can sing in nice harmonies with beautiful voices. As  a kind of pay back I play the trumpet for the children of the primary school. Amazed, open mouth and full of excitement they are watching me play the silvery machine with the big sound. This must have been the first trumpet at this end of the world. The teacher, Fred, gets a sail for his canoe from us and he promises us a Bagi, that’s a necklace of polished shells. The Bagi is not ready yet and it has to be polished before it is finished so we have to wait for that. Then on a good day we find the amazing catamaran “Monashee” in our bay. We already knew via radio that they were coming and the reunion with them, since Venezuela four years ago, was warm and hearty. We stay close until we leave PNG and we make nice hikes with Valerie, we have a lot to talk about and we play many times the Mexican train, that’s a kind of dominos. Unfortunately for Ian I have to say that his percentage of winning was at a disappointing low level. On the other hand I must admit that life was not easy for him when big teaser Jacky pointed her arrows in his direction. It is about Independence day and we head, like everyone else, for Panatanini  Island. At the football pitch of the Hoboc school are festivities. The next days there will be dancing by big and small groups. In this kind of countries marching groups are also very important and being a leader and shout loudly and for long-time “LEFT-RIGHT” is good for your career. There are races for sailing canoes in different classes and there is a soccer tournament. The pitch is far from flat, one corner is at least 1.5 meter higher, it is bumpy, not square and too narrow and there are no lines. The goals are made of trees and one is the big exception if he’s got soccer spikes. But they play like lions and for a Dutch ex-player it is very strange that there is not a sound of grouse and whining and every decision of the ref is accepted. After a game everybody shakes hands. We think it’s quite an experience to be at this event. People come from everywhere, some come from islands pretty far away, and they stay here for a couple of days. Women cook their pots on little self made fires on the beach and feed their family and “Wantok” say family extended. People use all  kind of tricks and adroitness’s for a sleeping place and we, Dimdims, are very welcome to see it all and celebrate. Many come to us just to have a look from close by. Unfortunately there is not much progress with our Bagi and we decide to visit teacher Fred who is here too somewhere. He didn’t expect that. Despite his dark skin he changes colour many times and comes up with many excuses. Instant he shows us a little ugly Bagi but the thing is so miserable that we don’t except it. He promises a lot but we don’t believe in it any more. Later when we head back to our dinghy, a hike of 1.5 Km over the island, Fred, running and sweating heavily, coming from opposite direction, stops us. He has got another Bagi of some better quality. He’d ripped it of the neck of his sister.... He is almost begging now that we accept it and is very glad when we do so. He cares a lot about his reputation and he asks us emphatic not to blemish his name. So remember; Fred is a good boy! After the festivities we return to the isle of Gigila and later again to Bagaman. This is our latest stop in the Louisiades. Our good friends Isaac and Ann of Bon Accord make the jump to Townsville five days  earlier than we and they leave the next day. We play the last rounds of Mexican train with Ian and Val. We enjoy a big meal in the hut of old Sam who invites us at 09.00h in the morning. He himself is already cooking from 06.00h in the morning and special for this occasion he killed a chicken, luckily we took Dimdim-food and the whole family loves it. We have another hike with Val to the other side of the isle and we snorkel for the last time in the bay always with an eye for the crock that never comes. And then it’s time to say goodbye to Monashee. Everybody knows what’s happening than. Jacky makes a real tearjerker of it and then it’s over. Our last supplies go to the village and we’re gone. The weather forecast was very good but reality is not as good as we had hoped for. The passage at Duchateau is at least impressive with enormous eddies, these are high stationary steep waves made by strong current in the passage and hard wind. The wind is strong to very strong, between 20 and 30 knots, and comes in on the beam. But in good four days we drop the anchor again, so we were pretty fast. In the morning the committee of welcome is ready. Customs, immigration and health are waiting for us. The Mary-Eliza is searched meticulously for bugs and whatever and all paperwork seemed to be all right. No faults this time and we fulfilled the Australian desires to receive an Email at least 96 hours before arrival (we are lucky to have the right equipment on board). Besides that we had already 200 miles before arrival an airplane of the customs circling above us asking all kind of questions. Australian authorities are absolute paranoia and the regulations are  far over the top. Many people have all kind of jobs with the only objective that you live your life following the rules. HORRIBLE! Just like last year the health department charges our bank account two times. I wonder if we have to visit the office five times again before we get our money back. At the time of writing we are three weeks and five Emails further and nothing happened. But for the rest we like it a lot here in Townsville. Very unexpected we met our old friends Vic and Ruth from Whangarei NZ and we had a couple of wonderful BBQ’s with them and their family. The weather is fantastic and we were so lucky to have a birth in the overcrowded marina until March 31 2008. The next report will be about the travelling we make in the camper van starting mid January. All the best to everyone.

Rob en Jacqueline    

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