April 30, 2005

We are in Kavieng, New Ireland in the country of Papua New Guinea. It is in the north east of the country. It is very different from the places we have been to in the last year. There are so many people!!! Also there are very few whites so it makes one feel as if one different. The people are similar to people in Vanuatu with dark skin, nappy hair and on the short side. The people are very nice and speak ok English. Most of them speak Pidgin which is fairly easy to understand unless they talk fast. I asked how to get a bus back from a store and the young salesclerk chatted on in pidgin leaving me confused entirely.

We are mostly reprovisioning our food stores. Yesterday I hauled back a 25 pound bag of flour and vacuum packed it. Jordan did a run to the local wholesale place and we stashed huge stacks of food away (rice, sugar and cases of coke and sprite). We have to get meats, diesel fuel and misc. items and we will be ready to leave. Fuel prices here are high compared to the government subsidized prices we found in Micronesia.

Last year some friends of ours got their boat robbed and ransacked here so we are very careful and leave someone on the boat at all times. Today we are going to leave the boat for 3 hours at midday, I am nervous! A local guy who sells us lobster from his canoe told us that we won’t have trouble this year that those trouble makers had been taken care of. Our friends last year told us that they got no action from the police. Sometimes these places mete out justice in a different way, perhaps when the “whites” left, the bad boys were dealt with in some fashion. Who knows!

The first day we were here three guys came out in a boat selling baskets. We bought one for a fairly inflated price because we didn’t know the exchange rate yet. I promised to buy another and of course I saw the basket guys all over town after that and they kept asking me to buy another. I finally did buy one from the guy I hadn’t purchased anything from after furious bargaining. I am sure I am paying high prices then the locals pay but it is not unreasonable. The people here are very poor and I feel like a moron squabbling over 2 dollars.

Jonah has made friends with the kids who hang out on the market dock swimming and he goes every day and plays. There is a old ship tied up there and all the kids jump off the bow – a distance of about 20 feet. I can’t watch. I am sure it is a safety hazard but he is so hungry to play with other kids and I think it is a positive thing for him. All the kids scream “JONAH” when we come to the dock so I think they like him. It gives Jonah a lot of confidence. He told me that he is the type of person who makes friends easily.

We had a small health crises with Jonah who started growing a boil on his chin in Kapingamarangi. By the time we got here, his chin had ballooned in a big nasty pus filled boil. We applied warm compresses for the last three days and it drained slowly. He had to carry a paper napkin at all time or it would drip on his chest. The grossest thing I have seen in years. Jordan is sick with some swollen glands. I tell him he needs to wash his hands after coming back from shore but he is not that good. People here blow their noses with their fingers so if you shake hands, you get germs.