After a restless rat filled sleep – we woke up at 1am this morning to catch the PMV back to Popondetta. By the graces of the good earth, it was not raining – a real stroke of luck. However we would soon find out this was to be of no use because all the rivers were swollen far above their normal flows due to heavy rains in the mountain. As a result it took us 9 hours to reach Popondetta including stops (compared to the 3.5 hours the first time we arrived).
Our driver was very careful – men would wade through the river clearing large rocks and looking for other obstacles. One large river was particularly high and a PMV was nearly entirely underwater with only part of the roof showing. Many people had gathered on the river banks to watch the spectacle of other vehicles attempting the crossing. It took us about an hour to cross and we were entirely successful.
We were unable to cross the final river by vehicle before reaching the airport as it to was flooded. We carried everything as high as possible and waded across – dropping one shoe in the process. Finally we reached the Popondetta airport – a strip in the jungle. You certainly do not have the freedom to do laundry at every airport! But we laid out all our clothes that were damp or soaked on the blacktop.
We waited for several hours – word came down of a delay, we waited more hours, finally word came of cancellation. We will try again in the AM. You have days like this on the road where nothing goes right. Syy is fighting a nasty cold and I’m limping around fighting off this nasty swollen foot infection.
The people of PNG have been so hospitable and this time it was no different. A number of locals gathered around us asking us if we would like to stay in their homes. As luck would have it, the head of airport security lives in his village less than 10 minutes from the strip…a short walk. Perfect. He and his two brothers run security for the airport. What a convenient location. From his village he can be in Port Moresby with a 25 minute flight, then Australia and then the rest of the world.
As usual, we bathed nude in the large river nearby with kids watching us and laughing and farmers returning home for the day. Dinner was wild bitter melon plants we collected from the river banks (the locals do not eat this plant) eaten with PNG mackerel from tins that we bought from the local canteen.
A special mention must be made about the toilet at this village. I’ve used interesting and often gross toilets around the world but have *never* seen this before! Thousands and thousands of shiny white bloated worms with black heads had filled up the huge hole in the ground; there were so many of them you could hear them as they continuously crawled around.
Even the sides of the hole directly below the wooden seat were layered with these worms crawling just below where you put your bum. The main (large) cavity literally sloshed with them and I can only imagine how deep they went. This was something straight out of a horror movie – it could be one of worst prison cells imaginable (and a person would easily fit inside)! The good news here – is there was absolutely no smell.