We drove out of our compound around 7:35 (later than we wanted, but hey, we are on PNG time now), and tried not to run over the pedestrians outside our gate. I reached out the truck window and waved to Sarah, Daniel, and Bu who kept yelling “lukim yu”( which is Pidgin for,” see you later”). And off we drove to Lapilo (the New Tribes Base).
Dad radioed in to CRMF and let them know we had left town. I rolled down my window and watched people, trees, and cars slide past as we picked up speed. Where were we headed?
We (our language class and my family) were going out to the bush that day to visit a village across from the New Tribes Base. I was stoked!! We arrived in plenty of time and a minute later we saw Aute (a national) run up the hill to meet all of us. Aute was going to be our guide that day. Previously he had been also teaching us Tok Pisin, with some of the New Tribes staff.
Our language class went over a few details and then finally began walking. We stopped at a huge bunch of bamboo soon after starting and Aute explained to us that this was where the village court cases took place. Soon after that we hit the river. It hadn’t rained the night before, so it wasn’t too high. The class slipped and slid down the river bank. The men proceed to pull up their shirts and hold on to them with their teeth. I held my bag above my head and began to wade into the current. All of us got across with no problems. I climbed the bank on the far side, and began wringing the water out of my meri blouse (the common piece of clothing for women here), looking jealously at the guys with dry shirts.
We passed the village’s gardens first. The whole class waved and shook hands with everyone we passed and practiced introducing ourselves in Tok Pisin. We met Aute’s brother, who is the high tribal judge in the Goroka valley.
On we went and up we went. We walked through several different small villages. The villages were beautiful. They are very clean, well-organized, and so different from town. One of my favorite moments was when we met an older couple. They had such big toothless grins and the Mama (the name we call older women here) loved to run her hands over my arm and touch my hair. When we left she blew me a kiss.
Our whole hike took about three hours. Aute would stop and explain something in Tok Pisisn, then we had to explain it back to the other teacher in English. We crossed the river again with no incident. I am very happy that over these next few weeks we will be going out more in the bush. Every day is an adventure in PNG, nicknamed ‘The Land of the Unexpected.’