14th April 2010
As Jake is leaving, many celebrations have to be undergone.The first one was on Saturday, when we invited him to share a farewell lunch with us and the other volunteers at one of the two 'hotels' in Kundiawa.Apart from us, there's Mike, the new volunteer from UK as well as Victor from Kenya, also new, plus Rey from the Phillippines (both of these are working with the Participation and Governance project).Then Don, who works at the University in Goroka, who came up especially for the occasion, plus Phil.We ordered well in advance, giving numbers, time and meal choices ( chicken or pork - a wide variety of options available!) We arrived at the allotted time and sat in the dining room and tried to order drinks.They only served fizzy drinks!An hour later the meals arrived.Mine was stone cold and diabolically tough (they must have invented an innovative way to create chicken so amazingly tough!)However, the occasion was a success and the dogs enjoyed the fallout!
Then on Monday, a mu mu was organised by the family Jake lives above.The head of the family is a judge and we rent out one of his vehicles to travel to remote schools.He has two and works in Madang.Apparently recently, he lent one to the police in Madang and they managed to burn out the electrics,so he lent them the other vehicle, which they drove while drunk, rolled it over and caused much damage.So much for the esteemed police force!The pig had been languishing under Jake's house for a week and was finally despatched.I enquired at the mu mu why the pig had to be beaten to death rather than it's throat cut and the answer was that if they attempted to cut it's throat, it was such a strong beast, it might 'eat them'.So, it was duly killed, gutted and put in the ground under some hot stones and we witnessed the uncovering, which didn't exactly cause salivation!Everything, including the intestines are cooked and the heart and intestines are donated to the person who presides over the mu mu.We had a wonderful meal and as I was one of the first to take food, watched by all and sundry, I felt obliged to take some meat and I have to say the pork was melt in the mouth delicious!During these festivities, the tropical rain poured down and soon we were deluged with water, which sadly put a rather sodden perspective on the whole affair.
Jake's arrangements to get home have been rather tortuous, with the Kundiawa airstrip being closed, many landslides on the road to Goroka and even to the last minute, no-one seeming entirely sure what was happening.However, he finally got away in the judge's vehicle, which had been recovered from the police and repaired, accompanied by eight members of the judge's family.He eventually reached Goroka, but not without a hold up by the police, who had to be bribed to let them through.
I know I have mentioned Fred Carno before, but just to reassure you he is alive and well! Today, we attempted to obtain a Criminal Records Bureau check, as we need this to visit my sponsored child in Cambodia.In UK you just register on the internet, pay your money and hey presto.This is the procedure here:
i) We had to ring the Officer in Charge of CID to check not only that he is at work, but the 'finger print specialist' is also available.This we did and were asked to ring just prior to our arrival to ensure the officer was in the building and not asleep somewhere.
ii)Next, attend the Government buildings to pay money and obtain a certificate.We arrived around 9.30am.The woman who deals with such things was out at the bank - 'Come back in an hour", they said, as no-one else could provide us with the certificate.
iii)We went shopping, had a coffee and returned to find she was present and after some while, provided us with the necessary certificates.
iv)We went to a place where they do photocopies - "Nogat,"can't be done, an electricity cut!
v)We rang the Officer in Charge of CID - no response.We turned up anyway.
vi)We were shown to the CID officer's room, past the urinals, the smell of which pervaded the whole place - I've never been so glad to have a cold, which resulted in a lack of the ability to smell!
vii)No CID officer, but some random police officer who appeared to have nothing better to do, put us in contact with one who could do finger prints.But, 'Oh dear me" we needed photocopies of our passports and visas and the police photocopier was, surprise, surprise 'baggerup'.So we had to give an officer money to visit a photocopier in town, when the power had been resumed.
viii)This officer meticulously took our finger prints, which must have taken at least an hour and a half.He had to rub ink over a louvre window, which substituted for a proper thingy and this he did with careful precision.Then there was a debacle over which hand was on the right or left and which finger was which, then the correct place on the document had to be located, checked and rechecked.His boss had to be found to verify everything and eventually, with blackened hands and what seemed many hours later, we escaped with the necessary documents to prove we were not criminals, without our fingerprints having been examined or validated by anyone who knew what they were doing!And this is the police force!!Heaven help us if we ever have an emergency!World Vision ask us to provide this check but admit that it holds no credence, as the police are too easily bribed, so any check is not taken seriously - there's a surprise then!!
It's just as well we are coming home soon. John's hankies have disintegrated (trauma) and his shirts have frayed and developed various holes.My clothes have survived reasonably, but two pairs of shoes have started to fall apart.We intend to ditch most things here in order to travel light on the way home.It's quite opportune, as the school is trying to raise money for a women's Lutheran convention in September, so we intend to sell most of our few accoutrements which are in a reasonable state and donate the money to this cause.
The wet season has caused a fair amount of disruption.Although things dry up reasonably during the day in the sunshine, the ground is absolutely saturated in the mornings, as it rains torrentially all night, resulting in a quagmire of revolting mud. As a result of this rain, today, we have no phone line, no electricity and no water in the taps (plenty everywhere else!)Yesterday, I decided to have a cold shower (how brave is that!), which is something I have been doing quite frequently lately.I got into the shower, washed my hair and soaped all my body, got under the dribble, whereupon the water promptly went off!!Got up this morning, looking forward to a slice of toast because, as the power had been off so much we had been existing on porridge.Put toast onto the toaster - toaster baggerup!!I give up!!!
It's amazing how these people survive with such equanimity.We ran a new graduates conference yesterday, there are 14 in the province.All but 4 out of the 14 in the province turned up well on time, so we started.About 30 minutes later, the 4 missing ones arrived absolutely covered in mud from head to toe.They had set off at 5am from Mount Wilhelm and travelled to a spot where the road had completely disappeared as a result of a landslide.They abandoned the vehicle and walked across the landslide for about a mile, then hailed a vehicle on the other side and made it to the conference!I take my hat off to them.The head teacher of the school informed us at the headteachers' meeting today that they had eventually arrived back safely afterwards, but he said if there were any more landslides, he would have to close his school as they wouldn't be able to get into Kundiawa to buy provisions for students and teachers.
We were encouraged to learn at the head teachers' meeting, that the Provincial Education Adviser had received statistics about teachers' absence from the classroom from the school where we reside - yes, we did have a hand in it.He remarked that after his visit to the schools, when he made reference to the unacceptability of this, he did not expect teachers to flout his authority and said he would be writing to the individual teachers concerned - Yes!At last, action of some sort.In addition, the Senior Standard Inspector (who previously had to park his 10 year old Suzuki on a hill every day to get it started and wouldn't attempt remote schools in it) has now been given a brand new 4 wheel drive.He announced to-day that as a result, he would be visiting schools unannounced to check on classroom attendance and other things such as chewing betel nut and smoking - Yes!We seem to be making progress at last!
How much am I looking forward to turning a tap on and water - warm even - coming out.Making a telephone call, knowing the line works and not having to wear a head torch in the evenings, because the power is off.That, coupled with roads without enormous potholes and boulders in the middle, hold ups at bow and arrow point and things that start when they're supposed to, plus food which is edible, make coming home so attractive - but then, what about the sunshine and the beautiful mountains - can't have everything in this life I guess?
Enjoy the onset of spring - hope things are beginning to warm up.
Love from us both - twelve weeks to go and counting!