Another way of life.

Trip Start Feb 06, 2012
Trip End Apr 16, 2012

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Flag of Papua New Guinea  ,
Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Human remains have been found on Papau New Guinea that date back to about 50,000 years ago - those probably originating in Southeast Asia & Africa. It  has a population of about 7 million and more than 800 local languages. Pidgin or English is common to most Papau New Guineans.We were a novelty to them as I think they are just starting to see tourists here. As we drove by everyone waved to us and called out hello.

 Port Moresby is the main city and many places you look there is construction underway.A lot of the homes are built on stilts, made from tree trunks and branches, out in the water. This is because originally the government owned the land and people did or were not allowed to build on it. Many of the people though still live in small villages, some very primative, and make their living by subsistence agriculture - growing and fishing what they need to survive

 Our tour took us to two of these coastal villages. The first village was Tatana, a native village on the ocean that lies about 45 minutes east of Port Moresby. Here the traditional values and beliefs are still practised because contact with the westerners has been minimized. Villagers fish and most of the  homes are on stilts in the ocean.  They trade their fish for vegetables and fruits with those who live on the land. These is no running water, no sanitation, garbage everywhere, -- it was a culture shock.  Yet the people greeted us warmly, smiling and shouted out hellos to us as we drove by. We made a stop in the village to walk around and take pictures.There were people and children everywhere. The children do not seem to go to school. One of the things that they do is chew betel nuts making their mouths, teeth and gums looking red & bloody. (Dental care is non existent and we saw many rotting mouths).The interesting thing is that not one of the villagers approached us for money or were negative to us in any way and they all smiled and waved, called out “Good Morning” and “Good Bye” It felt like we were as interesting to them as they were to us.

The next village was Bakarau, one that is a pilot government project to better the life style of the villagers. Here the garbage on the beach was much less, the houses were still on stilts both on land and in water. There were outhouses (separate small structures that you will see in the photos-- not sure where the waste went -- probably the ocean). The people  and children appeared to be much cleaner and the houses were larger and seemed better cared for. There was also schools -- one was a prep school for elementary school. Here the children up to age 6 learned reading, some math and writing in both English and Motu (their local language). The grades go from 1- 6, then after a test, if they pass, go on to 7-8, another test then 8-9 and so on up to college age. Very few get that far at present but many we talked to had this as a goal. Still primitive to our way of life but a real contrast to the first village.
Both were a very big contrast to the city port. Even in the city litter was everywhere though. Areas just outside the city on the side of the rod  were what looked to be like dump sites where garbage was just piled up and then eventually burned. The city development seems to be working hard to improve things. There seemed to be a lot of roadwork and construction going on.

 After coming back to the ship many of us had the feeling of being a bit voyeuristic and so aware of the contrast between our way of life and theirs simply due to where we were born. It was instructive to see how happy, friendly and gentle they were. With the western influence coming I wonder how that wil change.....




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tylert on

They must have thought John a God.

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