Inga’s Travelogue: Welcome Home

I don’t like flying. Not because I’m afraid of heights, or because my father was a pilot and I have abandonment issues, or some psycho-babble like that. No, I don’t like flying because of my stupid friend Nikki. A couple of years ago, she dragged me onto Blackbeard’s Fury, a pirate ship ride at a northern Melbourne fun park. It terrified me, I squealed like a hysterical banshee, and I’ve never been so close to pissing my breeches in a sober state in broad daylight. Ever since that day, I’ve freaked out at anything that comes close to giving me that swoopy feeling in the guts.

Pirate-Ship-1

Things like flying – an activity I partake in fairly frequently, unfortunately. I’ll admit that for most of the journey to and from the Cook Islands last year, I had my eyes squeezed shut and was gouging my nails into Nikki’s shoulder like a wet cat. She handled it with good grace because she knew she was responsible.

So having confessed this, what could possibly make me look forward to climbing onto this little rattle trap for a trip over the turbulent Morobe mountain ranges? (Oi, GOF. Help me out with geographical names here.)

HELP. ME.

HELP. ME.

Lae, that’s what. Let me reiterate – LAE IS THE WORST PLACE ON EARTH. Apart from the perfume section in Myer’s. The second thing that would make me climb aboard Air Bush Kanaka would be a smokin’ hot Canadian pilot.

Don't ever let it be said that I can't get my creepy on at the drop of a hat.

Don’t ever let it be said that I can’t get my creepy on at the drop of a hat.

Lawd Jesus, I leapt on that plane quicker than a cougar on an antelope. Anyway, after some initial jitters, I busied myself with taking photos throughout the thirty minute trip, and finally a video of the runway approach.

I had strange emotions landing at Pindiu Station. My parents have had a beautiful artwork of the area hanging on their wall for as long as I can remember, and first I had the uncanny feeling I was stepping right into the painting. Next, I felt home. The landscape is almost identical to the area I grew up in – the mountains, the forest, the heat, the vegetation. I never fully appreciated why my ridiculous father would choose a misty, muddy block in backwater Far North Queensland to build his home, but the very instant I stepped out of the plane I understood. He found that soggy block of land, and he felt like he was home too.

After giving Hot Canadian Pilot a cheeky little cuddle, I’d set about finding my luggage amongst the pile of pandanas matting and produce on the ground when a tiny girl came up to me, threw her arms about my waist and announced herself as Jojo. Jojo, it turns out, is my 12 year old cousin and self-appointed leader of the entire Pindiu community. Jojo gots att-i-tuuude.

Preach it, Jojo.

Preach it, Jojo.

So Jojo had been sent to collect us from the aircraft and lead us back to the family compound. I found it odd that no other members of our family had made an appearance, considering the bulk of the village had lined up at the fence to observe the proceedings in eerie, utter silence. I later learnt that silent observation is the forte of PNG villagers – these people will Silent Stare the living daylights out of you without the slightest hint of embarrassment. Unless, of course, you proffer a hand and greet them in their local dialect (Dedua), in which case they will break into a red buai-stained grin, take your hand and pump it with enough vigour to repeatedly smash your right bosom into your eye socket. Then they will grip your middle finger in a clicking motion , and you’re expected to reciprocate with the timing necessary to elicit a loud snap between your respective fingers as you release hands. They will repeat this process three or four times, all the while nattering at you in the local dialect and not really caring that you don’t understand, because they’re just happy to be standing there shaking hands with you.

Anyway, Jojo cheerfully helped herself to about three times the amount of baggage I’m physically able to carry, and ushered us into the village like a proud mother hen. Then I discovered why the rest of the family hadn’t come to the airstrip.

Sorry you had to risk death to be here. Have some flowers.

Sorry you had to risk death to be here. Have some flowers.

They had staged a veritable Broadway production. First, a priest met us at the gate and said a prayer, as I tried to look suitably pious while simultaneously shooting bemused looks at my American cousin Nicole. Two small boys (who also turned out be cousins) placed marigold wreaths around our necks as we stepped through the gate, then the local children (most of whom were also cousins) performed a lively traditional dance for us. Nicole and I applauded and were about to start greeting our peeps, but before we could go any further my American uncle grabbed us and whispered “Wait! Step-mum has to make her big entrance!”

Enter ‘Grandma’.

Grandma is not my biological grandmother. My real grandmother passed away several years ago, and after this trip I’ve been sad that I never got to know her at all. This grandma is my grandfather’s second wife, and I don’t mean he remarried. Polygamy is still legal in Papua New Guinea, and my mother and her siblings grew up with two mommies in the house. Mum has told me stories of the discord this created, and having met this particular lady I’m not surprised.

Back to Grandma’s entrance. Someone pressed the play button on a cheap ghetto blaster, and everyone started singing in Dedua – Mum and my uncle included. Nicole and I stood in mute astonishment while Grandma appeared from behind the corner of a hut, crawling on her hands and knees through the dust, her unfettered breasts nearly dragging in the dirt. She had a necklace of pig tusks around her neck, and a fully loaded traditional string bilum slung over her back. She was covered in ashes, and children were chasing after her and firing toy arrows into her back. She crawled right up to my and Nicole’s feet, singing and wailing the entire time, then paused theatrically with her head down and her hands thrust up towards us. It’s one of the few times in my life that I’ve been at a complete loss for words, action or logical thought. My nana is face down in the dirt with her tits out. What the hell do I do? Luckily at that moment my uncle muttered “take her hands and lift her up!”, so we each clutched a dry, dusty hand. As soon as we did, the music became loud and joyful, and with my uncle’s surreptitious coaching we started bouncing around in a happy granddaughter fashion.

Eventually we were lead up the stairs of the hut in which we were to spend the next two weeks. They had built it especially for our visit, and barely finished construction the day before. The priest said yet another prayer, and we all trooped inside to be met with the smell of fresh timber, bamboo, and a large Welcome Home woven into the wall.

Aw, thanks guys!

Aw, thanks guys!

The rattle trap flies into Pindiu only twice a week – on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Now all this happened on a Thursday, when they had been expecting us on the Tuesday. Due to various circumstances in Lae, we couldn’t make the Tuesday flight. Sitting here now, it breaks my heart a to think of little Jojo running out to the plane on Tuesday and finding it devoid of overseas visitors; having to trudge back to the excited family to tell them we hadn’t arrived. I imagine my family all decorated in their traditional gear, the local children, the priest…all of them dressed up with nowhere to go. And yet none of them said a word about it, and we were received with the performance of a lifetime despite turning up two days late. Then I think of all the times over the years I’ve said impatiently to Mum “they’re NOT my family! I don’t even KNOW them!”

One more perspective changed.

A glimpse into my future.

A glimpse into my future.

We're not actually going to land there, are we? Oh we are? Awesome. Pass the razor blades.

We’re not actually going to land there, are we? Oh we are? Awesome. Pass the razor blades.

Thanks, Grandma! Can I take my shirt off too? (That's Nicole with her back to the camera)

Thanks, Grandma! Can I take my shirt off too? (That’s Nicole with her back to the camera)

Stepping into a painting.

Stepping into a painting.

Silent Pindiu welcoming committee

Silent Pindiu welcoming committee

Epilogue

A few days later, my uncle walked in on Nicole and I debating the meaning of Grandma’s performance. “She was definitely a pig being hunted,” claimed Nicole, “she had tusks about her neck.”

“No, I think she was a turtle. That bag on her back was supposed to be the shell.” I said.

“Then why did she have pig tusks?”

“I don’t know! What was the bag meant to be if she was a pig?”

“Bristles!”

My uncle interrupted us at this point and explained the actual meaning of the song… basically the lyrics describe being in a low place, everyone against you – and then someone arrives in your life and their presence lifts you up and you’re able to dance and sing.

Yeah, we felt like arseholes. On the other hand, our parents should have taught us Dedua.      

Glurge Alert

This is a strange and uncommon thing to post, but I really feel like I need to announce it to the world and record it for posterity, because I don’t know how much longer it’s going to last.

I am happier than I’ve ever been in my whole life.

Happier than that magical six weeks after high school graduation, when we were finally grown-ups and bubbling over with sparkling future plans and cheap bourbon. Happier than when I moved in with my first boyfriend and thought I would live happily ever after. Happier than the time I met Matchbox 20.

This is a whole new level of happy.

You know those crazy hormones you get when you’re falling in love, and you just want to run around in manic circles flapping your arms and singing B*Witched songs? I’m just like that, except without the romantic prospect. There’s not even the prospect of a prospect at the moment. Zilch. On top of that, I have no job, I don’t have a house, I don’t have children…in short, I’ve achieved precisely zero of the standard milestones of adult life.

Yet I’m more contented and fulfilled than I’ve ever been. I know what’s important to me, I know what makes me happy, and I know what makes me, me.   I’m not sure if it’s a revitalised perspective from my PNG trip, or quitting a job that devoured my soul, or spending the last few weeks with the people I love the most, or merely turning 30 and becoming more secure with my place in the world. Whatever it is, I’ve spent the last two weeks going to bed with a smile on my face, and waking with it still plastered on. It’s disgusting. I would slap myself, if I wasn’t filled with so much love and compassion for humankind and the planet and the whole goddamned universe.

I’m spending each day however I please – drinking tea in the sunshine, wine in the twilight and enjoying a high definition world for what’s probably the first time in my life. If I could share this sense of peace and joy with the world via hyperlink, I totally would.

Apologies if I made anyone vomit.

 

(Attention Future Inga: DON’T SCREW THIS UP. Also, don’t be pissed off in 3 months when you read this again and you’re back to the nine to five grind, eating water crackers dipped in Vegemite for dinner.)

A walk to Sippaia and why I’m a crazy bitch.

Aunty Femli is cray-cray. She’s high-pitched and exuberant and in-yo-face. One time we were bathing in the creek – Mum and I scantily clad, Aunty Femli naked from the waist up. When one of the younger girls noticed some men spying on us from a handy vantage point up the hill, Aunty Femli shimmied her shoulders and flapped her bosoms at them, hollering “easy to look, hard to touch!” in her screechy timbre. 99.9% of PNG women will not do this. The men fled in terror.

Aunty Femli has been taken to court for attacking her husband with a machete – he’s been abusive in the past and I don’t know what the extenuating circumstances are, so she gets a pass from me.  Any man try to lay his hands on me in anger, he prolly get a machete in the ass too. If there was ever any doubt which side of the family my attitude comes from, it’s now been clarified.

We visited her home on the third day of our stay in Lae. This involved taking a bus from the suburb of Kamkumung to Hunter.

Let me tell you what catching a bus in Lae entails.

First, there are no signs on the buses or helpful informational panels at bus stops to advise where they are headed. You must rely on the man standing on the footplate, shouting incomprehensible destinations in machine-gun, auction-house gibberish. “Wassa-taun, wassataun, WASSATAUN!” (One Kina tasol [only] to town), “Eriku, erku, ERRRKUUUU” (Eriku suburb).

The buses look like this:

The bus depot in Lae.

The bus depot in Lae.

Once you’re on a bus and you’ve avoided being manhandled by another operator onto his bus, you must fill up the vehicle from the rear. There are seats that fold out into the aisles blocking the escape route, so once you’re on, you’re on for the entire trip. Two minutes into the journey, Gibberish Footplate Guy will hit you up for money – usually 80 Toea to 1 Kina ($AUD 40 cents to 50 cents). You indicate how many travellers you’re paying for and hand your fee to the passenger in front of you, who ostensibly will pass it up the bus to Gibberish Footplate Guy. If you’re only carrying notes, GFB may give you change…but most of the time he won’t. The buses drive on the wrong side of the road, overtake on blind corners and charge through foot deep potholes at 70 km/hr – but then so does everybody else. If you arrive at your destination in one piece, you light a candle to whichever deity you worship and vow to burn your passport upon return to your home country.

Full bus! And yes, Gibberish Footplate Guy is grinning right at me.

Full bus! And yes, Gibberish Footplate Guy is grinning right at me.

Which is precisely what I did upon arriving at Hunter suburb. We alighted right in front of Mum’s old high school, next to the grocery store she used to visit when she was a little tacker. Mum has told me numerous stories about her childhood, but the one that stood out to me was how boys (and men) used to visit her all-girls high school and stick their penises through the fence. I felt edified to be standing next to the very chickenwire through which these venerable genitalia were shoved.

We bought some snacks from the nostalgic corner store and started our walk to Aunty Femli’s house. We passed a bunch of people who recognised Mum (once again, not an odd occurrence in any country), then one lady came rushing out of a marketplace, almost in tears and embracing us both while making kissy noises into our necks. I’d become used to this kind of behaviour, and wandered ahead with my cousins while this woman clutched my mother’s hand and warbled on about their childhood together.

Approximately one hour’s walk from Hunter, we arrived at Aunty Femli’s house and the nearby beach and river swimming area.

The beach is filthy and the sand is black. On the other hand, the tidal river was clear and cool and enticing, despite its unfortunate name of ‘Blood River’. We found out it was called this because in World War II, blood from the soldiers’ corpses upstream dyed the river a deep red hue. Delightful.

Back at Aunty Femli’s place, we had a barbecue and I got to meet some more cousins, while Mum’s long lost friend from the marketplace helped herself to a healthy serving of rice and lamb flaps, then lit up a marijuana joint.

Eventually someone organised a paid driver to collect us and take us back to Kamkumung, and Mum’s friend happily climbed into the back of the utility, giving instructions on where to drop her. Safely in the cab, Mum confessed she had no idea who the woman was, and no one else seemed to either. Eventually it dawned on us that she was a con-woman who was out for nothing more than a free feed and maybe some cash if Mum had been silly enough. I had a little giggle, because I’d snapped a bunch of photos of Mum hand-in-hand with her old ‘friend’, thinking she’d be pleased. In her defence, Mum was loath to offend somebody who may or may not have been an important acquaintance, so she played along. PNG is like that.

Mum quite clearly signalling for help. I'm a terrible daughter.

Mum quite clearly signalling for help. I’m a terrible daughter.

A refreshing dip at 'Blood River' (sans corpses)

A refreshing dip at ‘Blood River’ (sans corpses)

Yes, the sand is black and the water is grey. I'm an Aussie, we're picky about our beaches!

Yes, the sand is black and the water is grey. I’m an Aussie, we’re picky about our beaches!

Auntie Femil's house

Auntie Femli’s house

The walk to Auntie Femli's place - my first glimpse of the scenic PNG my parents harp on about.

The walk to Auntie Femli’s place – my first glimpse of the scenic PNG my parents harp on about.

Next instalment: The planes keep getting smaller, and grandma’s boobs.

 

Inga’s Travelogue: Ladies in Lae

We flew from Moresby to ‘Rainy Lae’ in a Fokker 100, sitting next to a young Morobe Province native on his way home from Brisbane. He was clearly as terrified of the ungodly turbulence as I was, which was mildly vindicating.

Nadzab Airport in Lae doesn’t believe in conveyor belts, therefore the baggage collection system consists of a long hole in the wall facing the tarmac, through which luggage is tossed like meals through a serving counter at a deli. I should point out that the cargo of PNG travellers mainly consists of things like pandanas mats, woven bamboo products and fresh produce. It’s not unusual to see poorly secured bags of cabbage, corn, sweet potato and taro being hoisted out of the cargo hold. A spare change of clothing and toiletries seem extraneous to their journeys.

Like Port Moresby, security guards were everywhere – especially making sure that the baggage tags matched those of the ticket holders. I’ve often wondered why we don’t do the same in Australia. After we’d been through the rigmarole of collecting luggage and exiting the building past security, I decided I needed to use the restroom – upon which security had to escort me back inside the building like a criminal. I’ve never peed so fast.

In the airport car park we were faced with an army of balus (airport) buses, each with a man hanging out of the doors hollering unintelligible destinations. The most common destination being Lae town, which was broadcast to the milling crowd as “Lehlehlehlehlehleh! LEHLEHLEHLEHHHH!!” by various manic-looking gentlemen. Fortunately Mum had run into someone she knew inside the terminal (this is not an uncommon occurrence in Australia, either), who ended up giving us a lift to our destination.

Our destination was Uncle Moro’s house in Kamkumung.

Uncle Moro's house

Uncle Moro’s house

Uncle Moro has eight family members living in his three room house (one of which he gave to my cousin and I), and regularly feeds ten to fifteen people.  The only household income is that of his wife, who sells buai (betelnut) at the local market. I can’t imagine she brings in much more than 10 to 20 Kina a week ($5 to $10 AUD). The entire family are thin as whippets, and Mum tells me they’ve all lost heaps of weight since she last visited in 2011. Luckily they have a network of in-laws and extended relatives living on the same block who seem to help them out. Luckily for us as well, one of these extended families had a shower facility they were willing to let us use.

By shower, I mean it was a cold tap screened by fertiliser bags. It backed right onto the local market, so any local with the inclination could have a peep over the top at any time. Normally I would have been uncomfortable, but after any amount of time in muggy, dusty Lae, fresh cold water on your body is an absolute godsend regardless of who’s eyeballing your goodies.

I need to tell you about Lae city. Port Moresby horrified me, but it boasts a certain pride. There is street art and gardens and universities, not to mention Parliament House. It’s the capital city, after all. Lae, on the other hand, uses pride as toilet paper – if anybody there used toilet paper. It’s grimy and sullen and dangerous, and so hot that the bitumen melts at midday and sticks to the soles of your shoes. The footpaths and public areas are drenched in red buai spittle, and every evening at 8pm the thunderstorms come and wash a bloody red, muddy mess into the Bumbu river and churn the pot-holed roads into an impassable muck. The most common crimes, according to my cousins, are rape and murder. It’s horrid, and I was miserable the whole time I was there. The cousins had to chaperone us everywhere, including the shower. Sometimes extra ‘cousins’ would attach themselves to our party as bodyguards, and Mum and my uncle had no choice but to provide lunch and bus fares to whoever came along.

One of the extras was a bearded fool in a baseball cap, maybe in his late thirties. He repeatedly introduced himself as my uncle, and in standard douche-canoe fashion he insisted he was a ‘big man’ in the area, and all visitors had to pay their respects to him as his family was very important. He followed us on excursions, and it infuriated me to watch him eating fried chicken my mother had paid for. He was a complete fucking idiot, and had I been in Australia I would have punched him in the throat.

Before I go too much further, I want to talk about dress codes in PNG. Ladies, you gots to cover your junk up in da ‘G. Every time I spoke to Mum before the trip, she would hammer it into me: “Make sure you don’t bring any skimpy outfits! No, I’m not saying you dress like a slut. That’s not what I’m saying at all.  Just…don’t wear what you usually wear. Nothing too skimpy!” In the end, I bought a bunch of horrific clothes from the op-shop that were one or two sizes too big, to the point that my erstwhile mother confessed she was pleased to see me back in my usual outfits once we came back to Oz. But yeah, PNG women need to cover everything from collarbones down to their knees, which is strange considering some of their traditional outfits look like this:

IMG_0295

Also, it’s perfectly acceptable for a nursing mother, or any mother, to pull their boobs out in public. When I questioned Mum as to why it was ok for them to this while I couldn’t even wear a tank top, she explained that men can’t possibly be interested in something that has or is currently being used to feed a baby. I’m still not sure whether Mum is naïve or PNG men are vastly different from their Australian ilk. It’s a place of so many contradictions, and as my American uncle advised me sagely in front of the fire one night, “Stop trying to look for logic. You won’t find it.”

Next instalment: A trip to the seaside and a con-woman.

Yes Aussie readers, that's the Lae ANZ bank. Fancy investing your money here?

Yes Aussie readers, that’s the Lae ANZ bank. Fancy investing your money here?

The police station at Kamkumung. The catch is, there are no actual police officers. Not kidding.

The police station at Kamkumung. The catch is, there are no actual police officers. Not kidding.

Kamkumung roadside market. Buy a bunch of peanuts for 30 cents, and be pick-pocketed absolutely FREE!

Kamkumung roadside market. Buy a bunch of peanuts for 30 cents, and be pick-pocketed absolutely FREE!

If you thought you needed unimpeded vision to drive a truck full of people through town, you'd be wrong.

If you thought you needed unimpeded vision to drive a truck full of people through town, you’d be wrong.

My gorgeous (or so I reckon) cousins - Rowena in yellow is 29 and has three children, and Little Miss Naughty Romana is19 and a total badass. Note the 'shower curtain' in the background (white and purple).

My gorgeous (or so I reckon) cousins – Rowena in yellow is 29 and has three children, and Little Miss Naughty Romana is19 and a total badass. Note the ‘shower curtain’ in the background (white and purple).

My second cousin playing with rocks in the dirt. Who needs Fisher n Price?

My second cousin playing with rocks in the dirt. Who needs Fisher n Price?

 

 

 

 

Inga’s Travelogue: The PNG Chronicles

So three weeks in Papua New Guinea did little for my stress levels. It was the most frustrating and uncomfortable three weeks of my life. I even broke out in stress hives at one point, contracted unexplained fevers, and I was counting down the days until I could come home.

And I’m unspeakably happy I did it.

The trip began in Port Moresby with my half brother Jeff and his family. He and his wife both have careers, so three of their male cousins live with them and pitch in around the house, cooking and cleaning and looking after the three children. From what I understand these cousins are not paid for the arrangement, but they have food and a secure razor-wire enclosed home to stay in – the latter being the more important commodity in Port Moresby.

Before I saw Lae, I decided Port Moresby must be the most horrible city in the world. It’s filthy and terrifying. There are metal detectors at the entrance to major shopping outlets. Everybody is shifty looking, and the poverty is ridiculous. Residential picket fences are non-existant; it’s all 10 foot tall chain link topped with barbed wire. My brother and his family are constantly on the alert for trouble – a couple of years ago he was carjacked at gunpoint, and under no circumstances would they let us out of their sight. They must have felt under tremendous pressure chaperoning four foreigners around town. My mother and her brother are both full-blooded Papua New Guineans, but somehow they manage to look like Westerners. They don’t look like locals at all. As for my cousin Nicole and I…well she’s a full Minnesota gal and I’m Aussie born and bred. We both have coffee coloured skin that’s the envy of our white friends, but for three weeks we were repeatedly called ‘the white girls’. Black is clearly in the eye of the beholder.

I don’t have many photos of Moresby, because frankly I was too terrified to take my camera out.

On our second day, the family took us for a two hour drive to a swimming spot called Crystal Rapids. It was wonderful to get out of the Moresby shithole and into the mountains. Nicole and I sat in the back of the ute (with the cousins and their machetes to ensure nobody abducted us) and were happily burnt to a crisp by the time we arrived at Crystal Rapids.

Most of the land in PNG is still owned by the local clans, so if your particular patch of land has something fun on it, say a nice swimming hole, then you’re entitled to charge visitors a fee to visit. I think we paid 20 Kina ($10 AUD) for the carload of us to spend the day picnicking and swimming. That money goes to the tribe, and they in turn construct public toilets and keep the place looking nice. The one thing they don’t provide is bins – I was speechless when the cousins blithely tossed all our picnic rubbish onto the side of the road on our way home. Nobody thinks twice about littering, which somehow is doubly horrifying when the natural scenery is some of the most majestic I’ve ever seen.

I questioned my sister-in-law Anas about the piles of cooking rocks and firewood that were for sale on the side of the road.

“Why would people buy it when you can collect it anywhere?”

“Because the land where you’re collecting rocks and firewood belongs to someone,” she explained.  “And if they catch you taking their rocks girl, they’ll kill you.”

Halfway to Crystal Rapids we stopped to look at a waterfall. One of the tribal owners sat on the ground with his machete beside him, collecting 1 Kina from everyone that wanted to walk to the lookout point. On the way home, we stopped there again and one of the cousins jumped out of the car and handed him a buttered bread roll and soft drink he’d purchased from a roadside vendor.  Later I asked Mum what it was all about, and she told me Waterfall Guy had given our cousin some coins to buy him some food. Let me point out that it took us a good four hours to finish our day out and drive back to the waterfall. That poor bloke must have been sitting there all day without food or water, and he probably does the same thing every day. It was my first insight into the ‘real’ PNG, and I had my first inkling that my brother and his family are among the very privileged in this country.

I found myself to be quite privileged a bit later on, when Jeff and the cousins prepared for us an aigir, a traditional method of cooking involving hot rocks and coconut milk and chicken. It was delicious, but I confess I was more interested in the array of PNG beers my attentive big brother kept foisting on me. “SP” (which stands for South Pacific or Sweet Papa, depending on who you ask) is everyone’s brew of choice, and I can confidently tell you it’s in the same league as Australia’s very own Vic Bitter and XXXX. That is, it tastes like camel arse.

Jeff’s home had Foxtel (once again, I didn’t realise at the time that televisions are not a typical fixture in PNG homes, let alone cable TV), and we found ourselves watching the New Guinean version of Idol. The judges were sickeningly fawning, and showered the contestants with praise even though some of them had the vocal range of Stephen Hawking. When I observed this aloud, Jeff pointed out that if any of the judges humiliated a singer on national TV, it wouldn’t be surprising if the contestant’s wantoks made sure the judge was never heard from again. It made me laugh, but I’m not sure it’s that far from the truth.

Next instalment: Inga discovers the real arse-end of the planet.

Pristine Port Moresby beach

Pristine Port Moresby beach

Hanuabada - village on stilts in the Port Moresby bay.

Hanuabada – village on stilts in the Port Moresby bay.

A little slice of poverty.

A little slice of poverty.

One of several offshore shipwrecks. I don't think anyone has the inclination to dispose of them.

One of several offshore shipwrecks. I don’t think anyone has the inclination to dispose of them.

Aigir!

Aigir!

Stunning scenery on the road to Crystal Rapids

Stunning scenery on the road to Crystal Rapids

One of the cousins.

One of the cousins.

I didn't ask what the road fatality figures are like.

I didn’t ask what the road fatality figures are like.

The start of the Kokoda Trail

The start of the Kokoda Trail

Cyrstal Rapids

Cyrstal Rapids