Thursday 28th July 2016
Today it was a Kavieng day. We walked into town and around – yes! – the hardware stores. They sold, to my astonishment, Australian wheeliebins! Mind you they don’t use wheeliebins here…the rubbish is mainly strewn along the streets. It is a very pretty town, a bit like Nhulumbuy (Northern Territory) with pleasant houses suitable for the tropics, and beautiful big trees lining the streets. And an understorey of rubbish, mainly coke cans.
Pete made friends with a young bloke called Jonah, from Nusa Island just across the way, looking very beautiful.
And with an older man called Bruce, who led us, in a dignified manner, to the Air Nui Gini office. We would never ever have found it. It was all bright pink and concrete but there was not a single sign to be seen on the outside…
I was very grateful to Bruce. It was cool and peaceful in the office and there was a delightfully efficient travel agent called Powden. I left my details with her and followed Pete to find the Customs office, which we had been told was opposite the church in the main street. It wasn’t; we went in and it was the Treasury. The man in the office had no idea where Customs was so we wandered round…
I found a Department of Labour and Industrial Relations which amused me somewhat. (I worked for eleven years for the Industrial Commission, in Tasmania.) And there in a shy little doorway just beyond the DLIR, was a little sign saying, Customs. Jackpot!
It took Powden a long time to organise my tickets; it was all very complicated. But she did it, smiling all the way through, and I am very grateful. There is no way in the world I would have been able to do it on the dodgy internet operating on my modem, which lasts for three minutes at a time and then cuts out. I am so looking forward to my thirteen days of Tasmanian Life!!
When we dragged our dinghy off the beach into the water a whole tribe of small boys yelled PUSHIM! PUSHIM!! (I do love Pidgin…) And push they did, shrieking with joy.
This morning early I looked out the window and there – oh astonishment! – was a yacht, a beautiful Amel Super Maramu 2000, with an Italian flag. Astonishing because really there are very few yachts in this part of the world…
Friday 29th July
The team from SV Refola came over for drinks in the late afternoon. Very nice people – Liliana, Alessandro, Luciano. I do like Italians…Luciano and I will be flying together as far as Brisbane on Monday. I only have to go to Melbourne and then Hobart after that but it will take him 35 hours to get to Verona…we have to leave Refola and 2XS at 3.45 to get a taxi to the airport… This seems a bit excessive to me; the plane doesn’t leave until 6.10am but better safe than sorry. I never want to miss another plane!!
This morning we had a visit from an official boat from the Port Authority. Noah Tamekus and Geoffrey Darius had come to tell us we owe 200 kina for anchorage fees.
Pete chatted to them nicely and I made them iced tea and gave them photos of themselves, which made them very happy. They are going to help us get fuel – quite a completed process, involving the filling out of forms. Very glad they are going to guide us through the maze of red tape!
They also gave us a lot of information about the region. They both said that New Ireland, and Kavieng in particular, are the very safest place in PNG. Nusa Island, a few hundred metres from where we are anchored, used to be a plantation, owned by Germans. When there was a gold rush (not sure of the dates of any of this…) the Germans all moved off Nusa and decamped to the gold fields on the mainland, and the government bought back the land to return it to the original villagers. All seemingly a painless process.
Apparently Kavieng gets quite a few visitors from the outside world, not just 2XS and Refola! Eery year a team comes from National Geographic. Bill gates has been here, aos Russell Crowe. And – the Bulldogs rugby team! Kavieng most passionately follows the blues and the maroons and the whole town shuts down for the State of Origin matches. I had noticed flags for sale in the shops but hadn’t registered the significance.
There are a few tourist attractions not far from Kavieng, so Geoffrey told us. Apparently there is as place where you can wade around up to your knees in the shallows and fondle large eels…Another village has the tradition of calling sharks; they have done this for centuries. There are fire eaters in one village, men who walk on hot stones in another. All of this goes on regardless of whether there are tourists or not, which I think is great. I never really enjoy seeing people tricked out in costumes and performing traditional ceremonies just for the tourist dollar. Much nicer to have traditional customs continuing just because the people revel in them.