It all began rather suddenly. I started out my day like normal when around 8:00 am, the time I normally start school, the phone rang. Dad’s voice came over the phone saying that he just got an offer for me to spend a week in a remote village. If I accepted I would have two hours to pack. Of course, I said yes!
After lunch I went to the mission to finalize plans and to meet my companions, who were two nationals, Peter and Osera. To my surprise, my job was to fly a drone to take a video of the airstrip! I got a crash course in flying the drone, then I was off. I wasn’t sure how the video would turn out, I just hoped for the best!
Six of us squeezed into the truck for a long bumpy ride to Hagen. We left around 3:30 and made it to Hagen at 8:00 tired and hungry with only greasy fast food for dinner. We drove the last stretch to the Hagen motel where we split up into rooms for the night.
The next morning, Peter, Osera, and I were dropped off at the MAF hanger where we waited a couple of hours for our flight to Tsendiap. Tsendiap is the closest village with an airstrip to the village we needed to get to, which is called Tumbugi. While we waited, we met our guides from Tumbugi and talked till our flight took off. We flew in a small plane to Tsendiap, which was only a 20 minute flight. We flew above forest covered hills, winding rivers, and several villages. I could see the airstrip as we came in for the landing. The landing was surprisingly gentle for an airstrip made out of packed earth and grass.
I stepped off the plane to the sight of villagers lining the fence staring at us, waiting to see what the plane brought. The guides we traveled with led us to the entrance of the village Tsendiap where a “singsing” (cultural dance) welcomed us. We followed them through an archway decorated in leaves and flowers. On the other side were some women with flower necklaces for us. Afterwards, we were led to a haus wind (A house with no walls designs for air flow, also the meeting place of the village) where the headman gave a speech and presented us with “kulau” (type of coconut good for drinking). When the headman was finished we introduced ourselves and explained the reason for our trip.
After all the introductions were finished they showed us the house we would be sleeping in, the place to wash, and the pit toilet we would use. We took bucket showers, set up mosquito nets, then rested till supper, where we again went to the haus wind where the village had prepared our food. We and some of the villagers ate at the haus wind. They served us rice, kaukau (a type of sweet potato), pineapple, and greens. When the meal was finished we, all drank tea and watched The Jesus film.
Next morning, we packed our clothes, rolled up our sleeping bags, and wondered around till the plane came that had the rest of our supplies. We left right after we got our stuff. We walked to the edge of the village past a soccer/volleyball field to the beginning of the trail. And so our trek began to Tumbugi, and the airstrip we had come to inspect.
Part 2 is coming soon!