Our 25 minute flight on Air Nuigini from Port Moresby was nearly empty and we arrived 20 minutes early, landing on the rough landing strip that is surrounded by jungle. We thought we were going to overnight it in Popondetta but the lady who was meeting us persuaded the driver to wait for several hours – along with all the passengers. Talk about patience and being way cool!
A terrible cyclone six years ago destroyed all the bridges from Popondetta to Kokoda – and there are many river crossings on the way. None of these bridges has been replaced in the years since and some of these river crossings are quite challenging even when the rivers are not swollen from rains.
We are very lucky we had a dry day yesterday – as when its rains (and there are some serious rain storms here) the rivers turn brown and rise quickly and you cannot get a vehicle across. The lady we are staying with says that sometimes when the vehicles are not able to cross the river – they swim across.
We saw a lady attempting to drive her large PMV (Public Motor Vehicle) – up the other side of a very steep muddy river bank – and repeatedly getting stuck. Our PMV stopped and a bunch of guys jumped out and started collecting large rocks which they then deposited in the back of her vehicle. After a number of other attempts the driver was able to free herself.