23rd April 2009
We liked Brisbane.It is a clean, modern city with lots of attractions.These include several spacious theatres, a museum, art gallery, numerous places to eat, a wide range of foods, a vast shopping centre and an interesting riverside aspect.The room was clean, cockroach free, with a carpet on the floor and we've never had so many showers in our lives - it was wonderful! Trains and buses ran on time and theatre performances started when they should (we went to see Chicago plus a Chinese dance troupe).The highlight of the trip was a visit to the Gold Coast to see some surf.What a beach!Miles and miles of clean, golden sand, with not an ice cream van in sight.Lots to see though, with nifty manoeuvres on the waves.John kept hoping Pamela Anderson would emerge, but no such luck!Thinking about it, she's probably an old bird by now!So all in all, a very enjoyable time, until we got back to Port Moresby, where we had to overnight before catching the plane to Kundiawa (there's no direct flight from Australia).They're not so bothered about liquids and gels at the airport.There's a large sign as you enter ALL GUNS AND AMMUNITION THIS WAY.Then, when you reach the x-ray machine, which is broken, there's another sign NO GUNS OR AMMUNITION BEYOND THIS POINT!The hotel room smelled damp, the sheets were stained and as I was cleaning my teeth before bed, a huge cockroach made itself known too close for comfort to my bare feet - the toothpaste ended up all over the wall!
So here we are back again.Three intrepid volunteers, John one of them, went on a 4 hour trek to a remote school, unreachable by road.All went well to the extent that John was firstly named the 'mountain goat', so sprightly was he.But this was deemed to be rather derogatory by one of the more polite members of the party, who renamed him the 'snow leopard'!He's been unbearable ever since!The return journey wasn't so clever though, as there was a torrential downpour, which made the tracks very slippery and treacherous.However, one 'snow leopard' arrived back in one piece just before dark, absolutely sopping wet. He crawled through the door with the words, 'run me a hot bath Jac!''You wish!' was the somewhat unsympathetic response.I expected the worse the next morning, but apart from a slight groan as he tried to unhang himself from the mosquito net whilst getting out of bed, the old boy held up remarkably well.There's another visit due in a couple of weeks and I'm hoping the road will be passable with a vehicle as, fired up with confidence, he may push things too far and the 'old croc' tries to become 'Crocodile Dundee' and does himself a nasty!
We returned from Brisbane to the news that the two new volunteers had been robbed whilst they were out for a walk.They weren't hurt and were scooped up by the villagers of the village they had just walked through, who dispersed into the bush upon hearing their plight to find the 'stealim man'.He was found and when the two volunteers were taken to the police station by the villagers, the man was being beaten to a pulp, police joining in the fray, which I think was worse for the volunteers than the actual robbery.Anyway, they got most of their stuff back and apart from being a bit shaken up, were unharmed.It was reassuring to note the outrage of the villagers and their willingness to help.Glad not to be on the receiving end of their anger though!
Yesterday we visited another relatively remote boarding school, but reachable by road.Although we bemoan the inefficiency of the system, we were made starkly aware upon our arrival, just what problems some of these head teachers are faced with.Firstly, the head's son had been involved in a PMV accident a few days previously and had had a lucky escape, as the driver was killed and four of his classmates were in hospital.Then he told us of an incident at the week-end.A senior teacher (female) was drinking with the security guard of the school.Some students came to the school (it's boarding) who had also been drinking and a fight broke out between the students and security guard.It ended in the security guard being stabbed and he's now in hospital.The same senior teacher on the same week-end, was found in her house in a compromising situation with a man from the locality, by the man's wife.No murder was committed, she (the wife) just made off with the man's clothes!!
In one of my earlier blogs, I explained about a raskal who had been put in prison for holding the staff at Karamui High School hostage and his achilles tendons cut by police to prevent him from escaping, as he had done so before.Well, don't ask how, but he has escaped again (bribery?) and is threatening the head of Karamui school.In addition, money which had been paid to the chair of governors of the same school, to resolve an issue over the payment for the repair of a sawmill, (causing threats to the headteacher (see previous blog)) spent the money!So the issue rumbles on as the sawmill repairers are not getting their money and they are very angry.
The week-end looms, after a very busy week and next week will be even more hectic.Not complaining though, as it means the time passes very quickly and is preferable to being bored, though the odd day of boredom wouldn't go amiss now and then!Tomorrow it's a yoga and dance class, then on Sunday we have invited a new volunteer from India who will be working with the primary schools, to lunch, along with Phil.Could be entertaining, as the gas bottle is nearly empty and there are none to be had in town, so lunch might just get interesting - never a dull moment!
All good things as always