I wrote a new blog a few days ago and while trying to upload a photo, the whole lot disappeared into cyber space! I couldn’t believe it! So I do apologise to all those who have been hanging out for the next instalment. I’m still not feeling 100% so the energy levels are low. Here goes…
The last time I had any phone contact (texting only) with Richard, my husband, was the fateful night when Lyn and I had fallen in a bit of a heap. With tears dripping onto the screen, I texted Richard to say that I was feeling teary and could he please pray for me. Uncharacteristically there came a message back immediately, “Why?”. I then went on to explain: “Hot, humid, tired. Culture shock”. You see, it was suddenly dawning on me too that this was the first time I was travelling without Richard. All previous travels to third world countries had been with him and he really is great in difficult situations and knows how to calm me down! I was so grateful for his very practical response, “Take in your surroundings. Drink plenty of water”. Immediately I felt a little calmer. I’m so thankful for Richard’s incredible support of me going to PNG. Never did he get cold feet or put doubt in my head. That helped so much in keeping me grounded and emotionally strong.
So, on the journey to Angoram I took lots of deep breaths and allowed my senses to take in my surroundings. I opened a window to allow the fresh air to blow on my face and that helped to settle my tummy on the bumpy road too.
The scenery was similar to the South Coast of South Africa where my mother grew up and where we spent many happy holidays with my grandparents. The smell in the humid air was even the same. I allowed my mind to drift back to those childhood memories, remembering the trips to the beach in the back of the bakkie (ute), walking around Granny’s garden and hearing the many loud insects and beautiful bird songs, watching cheeky vervet monkeys swinging from tree to tree. I half expected to see a monkey along the road, but there are no monkeys in PNG. They have tree kangaroos, wallabies and cuscus instead.
It was good to relax and take it all in.
We arrived in Angoram at 8am just in time for the morning markets. A quick walk around and we purchased some bananas which were so rich and creamy – easily the best bananas I’ve ever tasted! Yabru hurriedly ushered us back to the car and then to the mighty Sepik River edge where a boat was waiting for us. I recognised the tree at the edge from a youtube video I had watched before the trip showing tourists getting into boats and heading for a ride along the river. I felt I was in familiar territory.
We hopped in the boat, there was a burst of power from the ‘very fast 60hp motor’ and then we stopped again. We all got out and now the luggage was repacked to make sure it didn’t get wet. I now realise that they went to the other side of the river because of the threat of thieves in Angoram! It takes a while to get your ‘safe traveller brain’ working, especially after living in Perth for so long!
Once we started the river trip we had a real sense that we were getting there. It was absolutely magnificent. Massive rainforest trees sprawling over the river edge, thick vines with cascading red flowers, majestic coconut palms, dugout canoes floating nonchalantly on the river’s edge, children playing in the water and excitedly jumping in the waves that our boat produced, timeless rustic stilt huts, eagles circling above, sacred kingfishers darting over the water catching little insects (dragonflies I suspect), huge black parrots with bright red cheeks squawking and crisscrossing the river. It was trulyparadise. And we were right there.