In Search of Butterflies, Eels, and Turtles

This day was one of our last chances to see the famed butterfly sanctuary outside of Madang. Last week we had arranged for a guide to take us, only for her to never show up to the appointed meeting place on time.

 

 

We drove by her office the next day and once again set up a meeting with her. With the promise that she would call us, we waited around early the next morning. But the call never came. We couldn’t afford to wait too long, because later in the morning the butterflies would retreat from the heat, unable to be seen. So with crossed fingers, we entrusted ourselves to Google maps.

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Yes, I know what your thinking, wrong choice: and you’re right. After following Google maps for 15 minutes, we decided to double check with some locals. Dad jumped out of the car by a road side market and asked some men if they had heard of the butterfly place. Some hadn’t, but one older man told us he was the butterfly farmer’s cousin (or something like that) and volunteered to be our guide.

So we set out.

“How close is it?”

“Oh, not too far”

“How close is it now?”

“Oh, not too far.”

This went on for 30 minutes, till we turned onto an extremely tutted and pothole-ridden road which tested our car to the max.

After crossing two streams and bottoming out several times, our guide leaned out the window and asked Dad to stop. He began shaking a man’s hand and talking to him in the local language.

The other man turned to us.

“I am the owner of the Butterfly Farm and I was just leaving for town, but if you give me a ride to town, I will show you around my farm first.”

Fair enough.

So we agreed,  and after another very tense 15 minutes in the car, with our car groaning at every moment, we pulled up to his village. After ushering us out, we began our walk into a thickly wooded hill, the Ohu Butterfly Conservation Area. Under the canopy of tall trees, smaller bushes displayed the leaves and flowers that attracted the butterflies.

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The owner began explaining to us how he had started the farm with a professor from America and how the different species of butterflies have come and gone. In between the green we could catch glimpses of color as blue, white, gold and red butterflies darted between the bushes.

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After exploring for an hour, we made good on our word and took our guide and the owner of the butterfly farm back to town. That was a total of 9 people squeezed into our van, with no air-con, in the tropical lowlands!

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After dropping off the butterfly conservatory owner, our guide volunteered to guide us to the nearby sulphur springs that are a home to many eels and turtles.

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As we pulled our sweat-soaked bodies off the seats of the car, we were greeted by a beautiful looking lagoon area, which ironically smelled like rotting eggs. The sulphur water was cool, and we had fun feeding the eels in it with tuna. We were showed around by strong middle-aged lady who pointed out the spots where the 1997 Robinson Crusoe had been filmed.

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By 1:00 p.m. we had filled ourselves with fun and fascinating nature.After dropping off our guide at town, we drove back to our missionary house and cooled off with the ocean breeze and salt water. What had started out as a iffy trip had ended as a wonderful adventure!

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