To dive and to nap

Trip Start Jul 14, 2009
Trip End Aug 09, 2009

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Flag of Papua New Guinea  , New Ireland,
Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Slept well. Enjoyed the very powerful tropical rainstorm that passed over us in the middle of the night. It began with the curtains billowing across the bed, then strong wind rattled leaves from the trees, then a few large drops of rain against the tin roof of our bungalow, then the flood of rain: deafening. It passed over in a few minutes, and I returned to sleep – until a coconut dropped on the roof. Thought we were under attack. Shortly after, we saw the torchlight of James, the security guard. Maybe he thought we were under attack, too.

I'll take a moment to describe the resort. It’s on a small island in the middle of the archipelago. From the lagoon, there are small stretches of beach visible, especially at low tide, but otherwise the island appears uninhabited: the bungalows are all hidden from view. Beyond the mangroves and fallen trees, the interior of the island has been opened up (not cleared, but thinned). On the landing beach is a small shelter; just beyond is the dive hut. Up a small path is the dining area and library/meeting point. The six bungalows rim the perimeter, each spread so it has limited views of the others. We met Mizzie and Chivas, the dogs (blonde dogs) of the island. Torch- and palm-lined paths link the bungalows to the other structures. It is all very pleasant and welcoming.

After breakfast, while all the others went out diving, Kyla and I walked around the island. It was low tide, but, in some places, we still had to wade because of mangroves and dense vegetation. We were surprised by the number of pine trees along the beach. In one tree sat a pair of lovely parrots, who squawked, clearly unhappy that we were in their territory. We also saw a number of bright blue starfish, as well as sea slugs and brittle starts – plus a banded sea eel. (I would have been fairly confident that it was an eel, but I had overheard, at breakfast, a conversation between divers, where one assured the other that they had seen a snake, not an eel.)

We finished our circumpedigation, then took our books out to the stretch of sand near our bungalow, to enjoy the quiet and watch the tide come in. it was overcast, so not too hot – though more of a breeze would have been welcome. The best part was listening to the crackling and popping of the coral at low tide – and the waves lapping against the sand. So relaxing; just lovely.

About 11am, Kyla began to feel that her blood glucose was running low, so she went to check herself. She forgot her key, so I brought it to her – but then suddenly felt the wind rise. Squall a’comin’! I rushed back to the beach and managed to grab all of our books and stuff before the rain began. A few small sprinkles – a downpour – then moderate rain for a few minutes. Love the tropics! We spent the rest of the morning playing games in the library.

The dive boat returned about 1:30pm, then a tasty lunch. After, we had more squalls, so we spent the afternoon reading and napping.

Paul told me that, on the dive boat, someone asked Ange if they still dove at a certain location. Agne said: Not anymore. The local village headman felt that he wasn’t being paid enough and wanted what Ange and Ditmar felt was an extortionate amount of kina. So they tried to negotiate, but then he demanded a pig. They thought, if we buy him a pig, we’ll have to buy everyone a pig, so they just said No and don’t dive there anymore. So the village headmen of other villages are happier because they get more money. Someone asked if they couldn’t’ just dive anywhere. Ange said, "Well, technically, we can. But it’s not good when you’re out with guests and a boat comes out from the village, full of men shouting and brandishing knives." She doesn’t think they’d actually do anything, but it’s unpleasant nonetheless. It’s too bad, because the kina from the diving used to be spread around the village in typical Big Man society fashion, so the villagers now have less money for schooling, uniforms, and books for their children.

Dinner was very tasty: crab, fish, fried rice. After, the mechanic, the carpenter, and their children performed a “sing-sing” for us. We sat on chairs on the beach to enjoy the dances. The dances weren’t described to us, so we had to make it up. The first clearly suggested birds flying; the second had people paddling canoes; the next seemed to be fishing; the last couple involved farming and produce. We guessed it told the story of following the birds to the islands, then starting a new life there. Who knows? But it works for me. The rain started during the last couple of dances, but it never came down too hard. Everyone was introduced to all of us, then we shook hands all around. Then we went to bed.
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ahartry on

Re: lissenung
So it was a banded coral snake! I didn't get close enough to examine it, to see if it had 'tiny fins' or the 'pointed tail' that identified it as an eel ... but it was swimming in the shallows like the eels do, so I decided it was the less-exciting of the two creatures!

Funny how the land dispute we saw in New Ireland was between men, when the women own the land! We learned a little bit about it from the two anthropologists who were traveling with us but would have been interested to learn more.

Thanks for all the additional information!

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