Exactly half way!!!!!
Trip Start Jan 27, 2010
37Trip End May 15, 2010
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Arrived at 7 am at Simpson Harbor and it was 82 degrees and extremely humid! Small green mountains with active volcano visible. A 1994 volcano with its falling ash distroyed Rabaul and the capital has been moved 12 miles away to Kokupo. The are large mounds of gray ash everywhere...as it was at least 6 to 7 feet deep...and still is....The people who have migrated back have built shacks out in the middle of nowhere out of whatever wood etc they could find. The active volcano is still steaming and sending ash routinely.....
This was a major Japanese base during WW ll. There were 5 Japanese airstrips and tunnels were built everywhere. Up to 100 Japanese ships were anchored in these waters. From this harbor Japanese ships raced south to resupply Guadalcanal. At its peak, 200,000 Japanese were garrisoned here. Allied forces made relentless air strikes forcing the Japanese to move underground into tunnels they made POW'S and locals dig. The Allied forces decided to bypass Rabaul and let it "whither on the vine". The 1994 eruption buried most of the Rabaul and Japanese tunnels under the ash....today some have been dug out as well as some of the old planes, etc. There are only 10 or so cruise ships a year entereing this only port area for Papua New Guinea. People were walking across the gray land from all over to see the cruise ship visitors. They were very friendly with very few crafts to sell. They are melanesian with dark skin and fuzzy hair. However, about 15% had natural fuzzy blonde hair!!!!!
We saw continuous steam while we were visiting the volcano area..as well as near boiling water along the shore.
Many of the men and a few of the women had very red teeth and lips from chewing the narcotic Betel nuts....
Today on March 22 at 7:30 am we crossed the equator again...me for the 4th time and June for the 3rd....as we are now back in the northern hemisphere...we went from autumn yesterday to spring today!!! Now we are steaming across the East Caroline Basin....