The PNG Chronicles: How to Butcher a Pig, or Things You Won’t Find on Lifehacker

We left Sebigo for the village of Yomeng the next day. I finally relinquished my last shred of misguided dignity and sheepishly asked my cousin Gesong to carry the Backpack of Doom. He made a big song and dance about it and muttered a lot of what I suspect were disparaging remarks in pidgin, but he gave in eventually. My people aren’t big on sympathy – in fact my physical misery was a constant source of amusement, and for the remainder of the trip the family joke was “Lala emba karai ya! [The white girl’s crying!]” Now I know why I’m grateful I never grew up with brothers and sisters.

My recollection of the walk is pretty fuzzy because I was thoroughly sick and miserable by then, but it was about five hours through thick rainforest and yet more savage slopes. I learnt to stare at my feet and under no circumstances look up to see how much farther the path ascended. Mum was just as exhausted as me by then, but she made a gallant effort to keep me encouraged while I regularly threatened to violently suicide on the spot. She’s good like that.

On the final leg, we stopped at the Masaweng river for a bathe. I’m glad my Mum and cousin took some photos at this point, because I really don’t remember it being this beautiful. I didn’t even go in the water; I just sat there glaring at it with a kind of dull, deranged hostility.

Let's fly Jetstar! (sorry, only the Aussies will get that...)

Let’s fly Jetstar! (sorry, only the Aussies will get that…)

Ada doing her Brooke Shields impression.

Ada doing her Brooke Shields impression.

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In Yomeng, we stayed in an amazing double storey, bush materials contraption built by yet another relative. On arrival I immediately shook out my sleeping bag, crawled into it like an angry caterpillar and passed out, and in doing so missed out on the pig slaughter.

I feel terribly hypocritical. The whole time I was in PNG, I really struggled to eat meat that I knew had been trotting around merrily just hours before – whereas here in Melbourne I’ll order a Big Mac without the tiniest pang of guilt. It’s this bizarre cognitive dissonance that’s been bugging me ever since I got back to the real world, and I’ve been alternately rationalising and moralising with myself for a solid five months now. It broke my heart spending time with the animals over there, knowing what their eventual fate would be – on the other hand, our approach to animal husbandry in the western world is absolutely heinous. The obvious answer to my moral dilemma is to embrace vegetarianism, but I don’t think I’m quite ready for it yet. I need a little more bacon first.

Anyway, the people of Yomeng generously killed a pig in honour of our visit. Apparently my delightful cousins thought it would be hilarious to come into the hut and wake me up with the head of the carcass…fortunately my American cousin Nicole vetoed the notion, and for that I’ll be forever in her debt.

Warning: following are graphic photos of a pig being butchered and cleaned. I’m terribly sorry if I offend anyone but I’m not sure how to hide them, so if you’re sensitive to these things then please scroll past really quickly and think about kittens.

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Start of gore:

Burning off the bristles. Different to Pindiu, where a handful of kids shave them off with machetes and knives.

Burning off the bristles. Different to Pindiu, where a handful of kids shave them off with machetes and knives.

The carcass after the bristles have been singed off.

The carcass after the bristles have been singed off.

Carving up the carcass with an axe. I wouldn't go to these guys for brain surgery.

Carving up the carcass with an axe. I wouldn’t go to these guys for brain surgery.

The fellas looking accomplished.

The fellas looking accomplished.

This is what my loving cousins were going to assault me with. That's Gesong on the right looking devious.

This is what my loving cousins were going to assault me with. That’s Gesong on the right looking devious.

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End of gore.

The next morning I treated myself to my first wash in a couple of days, fully clothed under the tap in the middle of the village. We had quite an audience, so I defiantly soaped my chest and nether regions with as much exaggerated vigour as I could muster while Mum looked on with a mixture of horror and amusement. I didn’t care; I was seriously over communal living at that point. Happily, it was our last day of the Self-Guided Walking Tour from Hell, and we were due back home in Pindiu by the end of the day.

The uncles having a pow-wow in Yomeng, while the pikininis do their naked thang.

The uncles having a pow-wow in Yomeng, while the pikininis do their naked thang.

Horrible, horrible mountains.

Horrible, horrible mountains.

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Updates

You know what really gets in the way of blogging? Work. I really need to pull my finger out and finish off my PNG stories, but in the meantime I have some updates:

Employment

Yes, I have a job! As some of you may remember, last year a tried to buy a house but got the vapours when I realised a mortgage would mean I’d have to stay in my soul-sapping job. So I quit, then pitched a massive fit when I was coerced into going to PNG, where I spent three weeks bitching about everything and stressing about having no income.

Within two weeks of returning home, I had a job offer. Sometimes I’m an histrionic idiot.

Anyway, I’m now the office manager for a company that supplies fancy brain devices to the healthcare sector. I’m practically a doctor. My first two days on the job they flew me to their head office in New Zealand for ‘training’, which turned out to mean drinking wine and being shown around Auckland. I miss my old colleagues, but this new mob is a lovely bunch too – and funnily enough, each of my workmates at my old job seems to have an identical counterpart in this company. I wonder if every workplace on the planet has an obligatory Terrifying Matriarch, Super-Intelligent Yet Socially Stunted Tech Professional, Director That Everyone Loves to Hate and Older CEO Who Drives Everyone Nuts With His Archaic Business Practices.

It’s a much longer commute than I’m used to (around 45 minutes) and rather less pay (about a $10K cut), but I’m approximately 5 billion times happier than I was six months ago so I figure I’m still breaking even.

 Bunny

There’s not a great deal worth updating in the life of a bunny, so here’s a photo instead:

Bitch please.

Bitch please.

 She’s so cute and I LOVES HER.

Little Sister

She’s turning fifteen this year and has a boyfriend, so I may soon be facing the depressing prospect of my protégé having more sex than me. Her family keeps her on a very tight reign, which I don’t think is particularly healthy for a strong-headed girl like her – she’s at that age where she’s busting to have her own life, but lacks the means. I remember quite clearly how frustrating it is to be that age, but she seems a whole lot angrier at the world than I ever was. So I just listen to her rants, show her how to cook and drop in the occasional comment about condoms.

The whole project is much more challenging than I thought it would be. The Big Brothers Big Sisters facebook page is full of stories about how much fun volunteers are having with their matches, but to be honest I find it draining. She has a great sense of humour and it’s gratifying to have gained the trust of someone who’s been disappointed by every adult in her life, but the amount of emotional energy it requires is astounding. If parenthood is anything like this, I’m glad I opted out of it a long time ago.

Now here are some random photos of my favourite national park. Have a nice weekend all.

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Full moon setting over Port Philip Bay

Full moon setting over Port Philip Bay

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Get out of the way, zombie roo.

Get out of the way, zombie roo.