Country 99, Papua New Guinea

Tony is now in country 99, Papua New Guinea. He crossed into the country from Jayapura, Indonesia on Wednesday 4th March. Since then it has been an interesting and eventful journey. Tony is couch surfing on this trip but was unable to contact his first host in PNG. After crossing the border he took a PMV, public motorised vehicle, to Vanimo, the first large town in the country. This lies on the north coast in Sandaun Province, the westernmost province in PNG. The PMV driver dropped Tony at the Catholic Mission Guesthouse where he was accommodated for one night and relaxed. Next morning, Tony’s couch surfing host finally located him and took Tony to his house up on a hill over looking Vanimo. A wooden structure, simple but comfortable. Tony met Wasa, the host’s house boy, Andrew who is blind in one eye, and another boy, Michael, who is totally deaf. You can imagine the scene! Tony later met the neighbours and chatted while enjoying local food of rice, fish and vegetables.

The next morning Wasa and Tony headed to the beach for Tony to take a banana boat to Aitape to change to a PMV for Wewak, his next destination. These boats are long wooden canoes with outboard engines, there is no cover and passengers sit in the sun, rain, wind and get wet by the splashing waves. Once out of Vanimo Bay, the fun began. Waves crashed against the left side of the boat soaking Tony continuously. Tony removed his left hearing aid for protection. The canoe rolled, twisted, bumped and turned all over the Ocean. The wind eventually dropped and the soaking lessened. However, the sun beat down and Tony was badly sunburnt, something he only noticed later. After three hours of bouncing, rolling and twisting with yet again more drenchings by the sea, the boat finally arrived in Aitape. It was mid-afternoon by then and all the PMVs had left. Therefore Tony spent a delightful weekend recovering with the family of the boat captain, his name Gabriel. A lovely kind man in his 50s and owner of Riverside Transport. Tony was looked after by his wonderful adult children. Raylin, Maryan and Alexander, plus Lazarus, Otto, and several others. Tony was introduced to a priest on the Saturday, Martin, who resides in Wewak. Gabriel’s family are Seventh Day Adventists. I listened to their daily family service and enjoyed the singing.

Before departing for Aitape with Gabriel and the priest, Tony was taken to see the World War II American plane, a B27, which resides outside the high school just outside of town. After viewing the plane the journey to Wewak was begun. A long 9-hour bumpy journey over gravel roads with many potholes. At one point the large 4 by 4 vehicle became stuck in mud when crossing a river and the party was left stranded until Gabriel’s son arrived with a larger truck to pull them free. Tony finally arrived at Gala Guesthouse on the outskirts of Wewak at 3 am.

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