Thursday, 8 January 2015

Christmas in Port Moresby

So it’s the last day of 2014 and my New Year’s resolution is to do better with my blogging. The truth is I gave up blogging the last time I was in PNG because I was being so careful not to upset people here in PNG, or back home, that my writing became trite and, to be honest, a bit patronising.  So please bear with me as I explore a new style of writing. I will be honest about myself and my reactions to the things I see around me. Forgive any offense, and if what I say worries you then pray for me.

Christmas in Port Moresby is basically ‘bloody nice’ (family joke)

I only stayed here for Christmas because I have run out of money. No white people ever admit to that but it is true. Rent here is extortionate – my friend pays 1500 kina a week for one bedroom. That’s about 1500 quid a month – like London only hotter. I paid for two flights, used one. I bought a car when I arrived and had very intermittent employment before I left. My reserves are depleted and so too was my energy – the three day journey from the UK wore me out. I am almost 45 and long haul flights bugger up a pre- menopausal woman’s body.   So no, I didn’t lose weight over Christmas it just took two weeks for the water retention to go away.

I did not want to stay in Port Moresby over Christmas because it's hot, a bit smelly and has a reputation for violence. So, as in many aspects of life, when you have low expectations you often find you have a pretty awesome time. New friends invited us for Christmas dinner and it was one of the best Christmas meals I’ve had – not just because I was not cooking but because Aussies do wine and food so well. A perfectly cooked ham, salad of local vegetables and these lovely placename biscuits! Each course had the right wine. Honestly – I feel inadequate that I didn’t have uplift full of French wine to share, but then I wouldn't know a good desert wine if it bit me on the bum.  I received only three gifts; a lovely set of cups, some chilli mustard and a wonderful calendar of family photographs. Perfect: goes to show you don’t need all the shite and nonsense to have a good Christmas.

It’s been great – breakfasts with friends, sailing trips, cocktails made by experts and a great road trip out with some of my lovely PNG family.  I do like a good picnic on the beach – and this was serious class – chicken salad and watermelon, a swim in a very warm sea and a five minute sunbathe! It also did my spirit good to see those unique bumps in the landscape that pass for hills outside Port Moresby and the distinctive spreading rain trees. I love the dusty roads, the heat and the human bustle of the roadside stands. I love that the heavier people have to ride in the front of the car because of the massive potholes (craters) in the road.  I love the conversations in a car in PNG; “don’t run over the naked child”, “when I die bury me under a tree like that”, “don’t drive into the coconut (meaning the whole tree!).

I have missed the barefoot shoppers in the supermarket, and the women carrying massive bags of vegetables by looping the handle of a bilum (bag) round their head. I’ve missed the constant hellos, good mornings and ‘apinuns’ of meeting folk in PNG, and I’m even accustomed to the constant attempts to scam money out of me (mostly police, security guards etc).  It’s good to be home for Christmas, em ples blo mi, yah. When I die you can bury me under a tree like that.

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