An Island Named Bougainville
When I emailed one of my oldest friends that I’d been in Buin, at the southern end of the island of Bougainville, he responded that it felt like Cloud Atlas territory — which is a reference to one strand in the nested sequence of stories of that novel, about a 19th Century American visiting a south-Pacific island that’s quite remote from San Francisco and where there’s cultural transition going on. He’s right: Bougainville really does feel quite far away from anywhere else, and remarkably beautiful as you will see.
That’s me around Bougainville. There’s the actual island of Bougainville and then there’s the whole Bougainville autonomous region, which aside from the big island of Bougainville includes quite a few other little islands scattered around. Many of these photos were taken on a Sunday when, after productive morning meetings which were one reason I went to Bougainville, we all hopped a boat out to one of the little islands scattered around the deep blue sea around here. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know I often get philosophical at the end of the year. I’ll keep it in check today, I think – I’m pretty tired. It’s been a highly intense period since…oh, since about mid-August, when I returned from that fantastic two weeks in Australia where Howard & Gene joined me for a bit.
It’s the constant back and forth, changing from one place to another, meeting and working with new people, and frankly having a fairly high degree of responsibility which can certainly wear one out sometimes. On the other hand, when I think about the car drive down the length of Bougainville island to the southernmost town of Buin, where another MSF section has a project that I visited…or when I think about the rain which caught up with us on our way home Sunday evening, shortly after the rainbow above, and how we arrived home tired and wet but quite happy after a full day in a place none of my family are likely ever to see — well, I do feel pretty blessed. And hey, the world didn’t end yesterday! Now we can start worrying about the fiscal cliff instead. 🙂
…I was interested when this young guy accessorized himself, since that’s a very common male habit in Tari up in the highlands. To non-PNG-habituated eyes, I guess it might look strange but I really enjoying seeing how these guys express their creativity. Check out some of my Tari entries, where you’ll see some more of this, though I’m gonna have to do a full photo study of Huli guys and how they accessorize themselves.
This sequence, several shots above and below, are all during the time I spent on the main island. The boat trip and some of the other shots were taken from the little island of Buka, currently the administrative capital of the region, which is just across the narrow Buka channel from the big island. Below, you’re seeing a few of the scattered northwesternmost of the Solomon Islands, visible from the coast near Buin. If you don’t have time to wikipedia that, it’s another nation-state here in the south Pacific.
Too hungry to be proud, that’s me. That’s also me with Stephanie, whose encouragement to join MSF came from a colleague who did his first assignment with me in Port Harcourt back in 2008 (yup, you can check out those blogs entries just by checking out the archive…), and whom she met when they were both working in Haiti. (So much world…but sometimes it feels pretty small.) We’re with Joe, who drove us back up from Buin and whom I first met when he participated in our field associative debate in April: yup, check out that blog entry too if you want. 🙂 Ah, the connections we make. Love Joe’s shirt, hey?
Yes, you’ve seen many shots of this picturesque boulder which must have dropped off that island to the right – in closeup, farther out, at sunrise, with clouds…It’s directly opposite the house where our colleagues live on Buka. And it’s really pretty. And there’s a porch where I sat and theoretically did work and wrote emails, but actually stared the island a lot too. Don’t tell my boss. …goodness, I can actually take my eyes off my potato chips long enough to look at the camera!