On Saturday I went back down to Laraibina. I was originally going to go all the way down the east coast to Namatanai with one of my friends, but that plan had to be scrapped due to the company van breaking down. After stocking up on a couple of mud crabs, fresh vegetables, and a case of beer I hopped on the back of a crowded ute heading down the Boluminski Highway. The nerve racking ride was made a bit better after we decided to crack open some of the beers on the way down. The east coast has such an amazing, untouched beauty
. The dive into traditional villages and lifestyles is apparent as you venture further south. Electricity doesn’t stretch far out of Kavieng so people living in rural areas rely on generators that they start up at night time. It was good to see the family one last time as they have been so caring and welcoming to me during my stay. Local culture puts a big emphasis on family and they live a matriarchal society, where land is passed down to the next generation through their mothers. Saturday night they put on a small fundraiser for Jeferey’s boxing team and the place was packed with villagers huddled around the small screen watching movies until the early hours of the morning. We spent the long Sunday afternoon drinking and laughing around by the beach with some of the guys. That night I was given a humble but heartfelt send off dinner with the crabs I brought down and other simple ingredients. It was really sad when I had to leave on Monday morning and they presented me with some really special gifts. It was hell trying to get transport back into town because of the Public holiday but eventually flagged down a transport truck and got back before lunch time.
This final week, I made sure I spent a couple of lazy afternoons down at Nusa resort. Relaxing with a stubbie in a deck chair with a gentle cool breeze was a good way to relax. Went for a bit of a kayak and snorkel as well
. I made sure that I spent the last afternoon down at Nusa …had to settle my growing tab anyways. After an amazing fish lunch and some beers, the owner Shaun was kind enough to offer me to tag along with him and a couple other guys fishing on his boat. Hadn’t been big reel fishing before but after managing to tangle the line and lose the fish initially. But it wasn’t long until I managed to snag a nice size fish. You can catch huge fish like sail fish just off the coast up here. We returned back to the resort with three fish and feeling pretty tipsy. I stayed around for a few more beers and dinner buffet, all shouted for me by Shaun. What a great way to end my time in PNG! Later that night I took the party back to mine where I invited some local friends around to finish the beers in my fridge and while I packed. They were all sad to see me go and I had trouble stuffing everything into my bag because of the gifts I received from local friends.
The last week in the hospital went pretty fast too. Got some good experience delivering babies in the maternity ward and managing patient in outpatients, surgical and paediatric wards. It’s been eye opening and frustrating at times, managing sick patients with stuff all resources..but I’ve got a lot out of the time here. The medical staff were sad to see me go and are trying to convince me to come back to work sometime in the future
I’m excited to be back in Adelaide tonight…even if it’s only for four days. However, I’ll definitely miss this place. Sure there are some things I’m not going to miss such as the humidity, mosquitoes, slow internet that costs a fortune, crap biscuits for lunch and cold showers. I’ll always cherish the memories of the beautiful landscapes and the warm red stained smiles of the New Ireland locals. I seriously haven't met nicer people. They refer to New Ireland as 'bilas peles’, which is translated into ‘beautiful place’. This is a fitting description of the place, not just for the scenery but also for the friendly locals, their rich culture and laid back way of life.
The land of the unexpected indeed! I came to Papua New Guinea with expectations and I'm leaving with so much more. These five and a bit weeks have really been a once in a lifetime opportunity and I feel privileged that the people of New Ireland have let me into their lives and their hearts. My stay was capped off with the humble send off I was given on the last weekend.