We hopped into Wendy’s ute with “Ken says do it” plastered on the side of the door as well as “Boroko Motors supports Family Planning” and off we went on the ring road towards Kaviak Estate, one of the plantations owned by the Middleton family who have been on the island since 1910 growing coconut palms and cocoa. Such a beautiful drive hugging the coast. After a 35 minute drive we arrived at the guesthouse. It was overwhelmingly beautiful. Manicured lawns, tropical flowers growing everywhere, guesthouse right on the beach, breakers gentle crashing in towards the shore. Wendy showed us to our rooms. Rebekah, Ester and Alexia had a whole suite to themselves which included a lounge room, bar, balcony and separate shower and toilet. Now remember these are women from a very remote village where they live in simple bush huts with no luxuries such as beds, chairs, flushing toilets let alone running water. They were amazed and their eyes were lit up like Christmas trees. I showed them where the cold water was in the little bar fridge, the cups to drink out of. Later on I had to show them how to use the ‘mixer’ tap as they had no idea and thought there was no water. I also had to show them how to flush the toilet.
Debbie and I had a lovely room next to Wendy’s and we shared a bathroom with her. There were photos of the exploits of game fishermen all over the guesthouse – blue and black marlin, massive fish as well as a beautiful photo of 3 orcas swimming in a row, apparently a common sight in this part of the world. “Have we got time for a swim?” I asked Wendy. In no time at all the 3 of us were in our bathers plunging into the refreshingly warm water of tropical paradise. We had to wear reef shoes to protect ourselves from the crown of thorns, but otherwise it was quite safe we were reassured. The Sogeram girls didn’t want a swim, but I soon found out that they all had a refreshing shower, something that they would not be used to in the village!
I didn’t venture too far out on my swim as I could a slight current, but put my snorkel and goggles on and saw lots of broken and white coral close to shore. There were a couple of iridescent tropical fish but in small groups.
We showered, got dressed and then head off to the main homestead at Kulili to meet Sir John and Lady Anna Middleton for lunch.
Their home is one of the few original Colonial homes left in PNG and is over 100 years old. It was built by Sir John’s father. He was given the land after returning from the 1st World War – an Australian army veteran that saw action at Le Somme in France. During the second world war when the Japanese invaded PNG, the house was occupied by Japanese fighters and there are still remnants of bullet holes and gunfires in the walls and floorboards. I felt I was stepping back in time. Beautiful colonial home with walls covered in native art and crafts. Everything was big and beautiful. Lady Anna and Sir John were lovely hosts. We were offered wine and more wine and then more wine! In the tropical heat I had to pace myself carefully!
After a few drinks and polite conversation with the elder Middletons, their 2 adult sons who now run the plantation, the biofuel engineer and another Englishman who is a plantation owner, we sat down under the shade of a rainforest tree to a sumptuous lunch of roast ham and vegetables. We were gobsmacked. I said to the Middletons that this is a unique experience for us as we usually have plain food in really remote villages! It was quite bizarre and certainly not what we’d been expecting on this trip either. After lunch we were served freshly made chocolate cake and coffee. 3 hours later we headed back to our accommodation and our first lesson in inserting implants.