My wandering field life passed the ten-year mark earlier this year. That’s ten years of finding my way into a new work environment and getting to know new colleagues once a year or so. In a more mundane way, it’s ten years worth of photo files to keep up-to-date and to try to remember to share on my blog. A cousin (thanks, Juliette!) noticed that the entries from my earliest days had lost their photos: mine was a rather early blog, and the ways of uploading photos have changed since then. (Many of those earliest posts appear frankly so embarrassingly shallow to me now that I’m tempted to simply wave my editorial wand and have done with them…but thus far my sense for historical accuracy is controlling that temptation…) If my continued research succeeds, many of those photos will be directly restored onto the blog as I find their originals in backup hard drives and other obscure locations: ah, new year’s resolutions before the old year has even wrapped up!
In the meantime, I’m uncovering little treasures that never made it up here, while fondly remembering where I’ve been and what I’ve done. I was recently saddened to learn that Nancy Schrom Dye, former president of Oberlin College, had passed this year. During my years of active alumni-association work I greatly appreciated her contributions to my alma mater – so I was proud to join some other colleagues in taking her for an end-of-year meal which, the digital date stamp tells me, occurred in Beijing on December 31, in 2005. Up above are also a few rediscovered December 2005 Beijing-area shots which somehow didn’t get posted at the time. (Posting photos was more challenging in those early days…)
Just below are some previously-unposted 2015 shots: early-morning moonset at my home here in Haiti; me with my brother and a colleague when I gave a talk at Carnegie Mellon University earlier this year; and some shots from the lovely Frick House & museum in Pittsburgh, from the same visit. And since this put me in the mood, I’ve wandered through the many countries & continents, family meals & trips & assignments on four continents that have filled the years between these two sets of photos so very fully. Assembling them’s been fun for me so I hope viewing them is fun for you too :-).
This time last year? In December 2014, I returned from Sierra Leone & later went with great friends to enjoy the Ai WeiWei exhibit on Alcatraz Island (more photos from that one in the original post….though that particular set of great friends – you know who you are! – are remarkably camera-resistant):
Where’d I spend 2013? Living in PNG, participating in meetings in Amsterdam & dive trips in Australia, then celebrating the holidays with Steve & Mom in New Zealand:
I began 2012 in the US (where I visited Washington, DC in cherry-blossom season), turned 50 in the company of Howard & Gene at Kakadu National Park in Australia, and finished the year in PNG:
2011 was mostly Mweso, a little Lamu, a little London and a year-end back home seeing Frank Lloyd Wright homes of Pennsylvania with family:
2010…wow, what a year. Just seeing all the continents and countries where I spent time (actually meaningful time, with friends and family and work) makes my head spin even now. The photos evoked so much for me that I just couldn’t narrow it down to three or four…so I’m giving you a lot from 2010, a mix of Manipur (start of year) and Mweso (end of year), with a sprinkling of Sweden, Berlin, Paris & California in between:
I entered 2009 in Tahiti, yes it’s true: during the year I took off from work to help Mom with her house, I dedicated two months to exploring Australia (and watching the Australian Open!) and New Zealand, flying in via Tahiti with a few nights in Papeete, just because I could. The year ended, of course, in Manipur and included a great trip to see excellent sites of Rajasthan with Howard & Gene:
2008 started in Nigeria, and ended in Tahiti…with a lot of good work in Nigeria, a short assignment for the earthquake in China, visits in Germany with my exchange family friends there….and a good deal of time in and around NYC (Mom, aunt Judy & I enjoyed a harbor trip past Ellis Island where our own immigrant ancestors entered the country, and also a trip to our favorite sculpture park up th Husdon)…with a side trip for some hiking in Sequoia and other California adventures:
2007…I began the year based in Colombo but spend the new year’s period with Mom & Steve at Angkor Wat, returned to Colombo to finish out an assignment, headed on for training in Paris where I also got celebrate Mom’s 71st birthday…back to the US to reorganize my life after my first two years in the field, and then off for a new assignment in Nigeria. At the time it felt big. Now it’s all fond memories:
…which will bring us back to year two of this current phase of life’s great adventure, the lovely year 2006. From Beijing & Yunnan in China, to Polonnaruwa & Sigiriya in Sri Lanka (where I was based at year’s end), with family time on Cumberland Island (Mom’s 70th birthday dinner!) and in Germany in between. With a special souvenir from Seoul, where I had the opportunity to work a bit with the young ladies pictured with their daffodils. In a small-world twist, I had dinner with one of those two young ladies just a few nights ago in Port au Prince, which she visits sometimes in her current work with the CDC. So much small world, so little time for it all. Happy end of 2015, and many good hopes for a 2016 of more peace and health to everyone, everywhere.
Like this butterfly which kept me company on my last afternoon in POM after I’d left the office & gone home to pack, I’ve spread my wings and flown away. (Ah, soooo many flights: pom->cairns->sydney->canberra where I pressed the pause button for three nights; then canberra->sydney->beijing->frankfurt->berlin where I pressed pause for one night then berlin -> amsterdam where I sit in the jetlagged early AM as I post this…) Farewells are not my strength, at least the social part of them: I tend to just get up and go, since for me belaboring the departure simply makes it more painful. I prefer, as it were, to pull the band-aid off in one painful pull rather than try to gently remove it – those staying on have the rest of their lives to get on with, and I…well, I had about a dozen flights awaiting me! And the rest of my own life, I guess. So yeah: the PNG chapter has come to a close, and as of last night when I wrapped up the debriefings I’m again a free agent in the world, unemployed and homeless but at least stranded for now on the shores of Europe where I’ll get to see lots o’ good friends and such in the coming two weeks. Yippee!
It’s become a habit for me to try to photograph, as I leave a project, as many of the faces of the colleagues I’ve been working with as possible. It helps me remember the generous, kind and hard-working people who will carry on the work after I’ve left. There’s a gallery here full of those shots, and otherwise mostly the farwell pizza-party & cake lunch that I threw for the office on my last day, last week on Friday. Otherwise this entry contains only the butterfly who visited me, and one shot of the coast near Cairns…at least I’m fairly sure that’s what it is. I suppose it might be the coast near Sydney airport but I don’t think so. This is also, after all, a farewell to that entire region including Australia which I flew into and out of, or visited long or short, many times while there. The next entry should show some views of Canberra during that three-day intermezzo. Ciao, thanks, peace.
Something I’ve always loved about this life with MSF is how it lets me see so many towns and villages in so many parts of the world – so many ways that humanity organizes itself into social units and carries out daily life. Here in PNG there is such tremendous range cultural and social diversity that I’ve really cherished all the opportunities I’ve had to get out and see villages, meet local people and find out how they access health care, how they live, see the kids playing or running by the road, see the market ladies selling their coconuts or buai (betel nut) or onions, and so on.
This is the final entry that I will post from PNG. There are still some shots from a recent trip to Honiara in the Solomon Islands, which I might post next weekend when I expect to be in Canberra; or the next entry might have to wait until I’m back in Europe debriefing and then seeing friends and family there. It’s lovely that this last entry can show another style of roads and villages from those that you’ll see from my past visits to Tari, the peeks at the streets of Port Moresby I’ve offered you in recent years, or even the views of roads and rivers in Bougainville from late 2012. Just a month ago or so I had the chance to get out with our teams in Maprik, a town and district centre in East Sepik province – these shots are from outreach activities (health education) at the main market in Maprik town, plus a trip we did to a lovely little town (which you see, across the valley, in the shot directly above and whose streets and houses you see also in the shot below) called Brugam. I won’t say a lot more – the photos have names which tell what they are, and there’s a small gallery below in which a colleague documented me buying a nice big coconut to enjoy the coconut juice…which we’re told is nature’s perfect electrolyte drink, and certainly is a fine thirst-quencher after a day on the road. Consider this my sign-off from my dear temporary home since March 2012, good ol’ Port Moresby…
…many of the rivers reminded me of streams that I’d play in with my brothers as a kid in Southern Ohio (especially the one at the very top, first in the entry), while others reminded me of streams I drove past in New Zealand with one of those brothers and my Mom, just a few months ago. Notice also how differently the houses and family compounds are set up compared to Tari — here, open yards and houses on stilts for cool and flood-protection; there, big earthen walls to create privacy and…well, I’ve never been inside a Huli home, but I’m guessing they’re on the ground since it’s plenty cool overnight up there in the highlands…
A few weeks ago, I got back to East Sepik again for the first time since July of 2012. It was great to see the towns and have a sense of continuity; also great to see it through eyes that have now been around PNG a bit longer and come to understand the extent to which the arts of the Sepik region are represented all around the country. At Ambua Lodge near Tari, the dining room is full of magnificent woodwork carved by folks from Sepik. This set of photos is all from the settlements on both sides of the river at Pagwi, which so far as I can see is the first place along the course of the river, in its run from the mountains at the Indonesian-PNG border to the Bismarck Sea, where a sealed road gets to the river’s bank. The detail of roof decoration above is from a lodge I photographed at that time as well; but then I’d not seen the gorgeous close-up mask that I shared with you all back when the orchid show was happening down the road from us at the house of Parliament….which was built in the style of a House Tamburan, a men’s house for traditional ceremonies in the Sepik region, from what I understand.
It’s good I went for the orchid show and took those shots of the lovely facade of parliament house when I did, because not long after, the speaker of parliament had the lovely row of traditional masks just above the lintel taken down and (at least partly) destroyed, for religious reasons – something about idolatry, I think. This caused a bit of a kerfuffle in the local media. I remain somewhat shocked that in such a multi-cultural country, such a senior leader can get away with simply destroying something of that sort which, as I see it, represents both part of the wondrous heterogeneous cultural patrimony of this rich nation, and beautifully skilled artistic craft. This blog, it would appear, is one of the few places where one can easily see images of the original, intact facade of the lovely house of parliament. That entry, and another example of a lovely traditional larger mask like the one above can be found in these entries:
and here, though I think some of these masks have origins from other regions as well:
If you’d like to see the rainy vs dry season comparisons, go check out a few of the river shots from the entry below:
if you scan through that entry you’ll see a few shots of the same stretch of shore above and below; there’s one where many people are unloading from a boat that’s down below where I was shooting from: that spot is where the boat is in shot just below. I figure the river is a good several metres higher in these shots than last time I was here.
On the other side from Pagwi is a crocodile farm, with riverine crocodiles. Compared to the massive saltwater crocs I saw in Northern Territory two years ago, these guys look cute and cuddly. Still, I’d rather not step on one or even share the same patch of water with them! And as the wonderfully decorated skull below shows, even these freshwater guys can grow to substantial size if not captured by croc hunters like those pictured above and then sold for either meat or leather.
I increasingly take in, on a personal, intimate and frankly emotional level, that these magnificent and challenging two years of working and living in this vast and varied land which is fabled in the annals of anthropology, botany, zoology, history, linguistics, diving, and so many other areas…well, these two years are truly winding down. In three weeks I should be on an airplane somewhere over Australia, having left PNG for the last time. Today, I’ve just flown back into PNG, for the last time, from a trip to Honiara. Honiara is situated on Guadalcanal, a name which echoes for many students of 20th century world history.
I feel a mixture of sadness, pride, and weariness along with both anticipatory and actual nostalgia. (After all, having been here two years and having flown into and out of the POM airport dozens of times, it’s easy to get lost in memories of this trip to that place, or that conversation with this person, almost any time I find myself at either the domestic or the international terminal.) It’s certainly been two years full of purpose and hard work, and I admit to being ready for a bit of a rest.
Look in these pages, over the coming months, for scenes of me at rest in my beloved coastal California home(s), and various other spots around North America. Before I get there I’ll visit some friends in Europe, so we might reflect some early spring landscapes from a few parts of that far-away land… But for now, as I realize the load of unsorted photos grows ever larger, I’ve decided to get a few more up for those of you who find shots of coastlines and cities from the air as fascinating as I do. I deeply hope that I’m not alone in staring avidly out the window much of the time I find myself on any airplane flying through blue skies, even after all these years and flights. Hope you enjoy: they all have names which say what they are; and these are all from the recent trip from POM up to, and back down from, Wewak on the northwestern coast of the country.
…below (if this lays out right) is clearly one of the larger cities in the Highlands, and if I’d been around that part of the country other than just Tari and environs, I might know which one, but I suspect it’s either Mt Hagen, or Goroka. My guess is Goroka, given the route the airplane seemed to be taking, but what do I know?
So the plan was I’d go back to the nature park, on a sunny and clearer day, with a bit more time than my last visit, and I’d try to complete my detailed study of the three types of cassowary on display there, and capture some better shots of the elusive birds of paradise as well as all the other fascinating fauna of PNG who reside there – such as tree kangaroos which on the last visit were looking rather depressed and hiding off in a hard-to-photograph corner of their enclosure. (Interested viewers can, though, see a bit of tree kangarooness here if you’d like: https://somuchworldsolittletime.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/png-37-years-of-independence/
However, that sunny weekend day has not happened, and though I hope I’ll have a chance in the few weekends that remain to me here in Port Moresby, I thought it best to put the rest of the shots up for now in case such an opportunity does not reappear. So herewith my attempt to get a few good shots, on a rather gloomy day (it started pouring down rain as we exited the park, and the clouds had been building up, which is why some of the shots are really rather grainy and gloomy…sorry), of the ever-moving and highly unusual cassowary and a few of the other unique birds and beasts of PNG. Enjoy.
From the top, you’ve seen what I think is a northern cassowary (there are the northern, the southern, and the dwarf), what I think is a victoria crowned pigeon, and some kind of wallaby. I did, once, see wallabies hopping through the bush on one of the bushwalks – otherwise I mostly see this stuff at the nature park here in POM.
Back in November, just after that wonderful ambitious conference we were part of, one of my friends had his farewell boat party. We motored out to an island just outside the harbor and swam, sunned, snorkeled and (in my case) got burned pretty solidly despite regular applications of high-factor sunscreen. As I wait for a sunny day to take me to the nature park so I can try to get some clearer pictures of those birds of paradise and cassowaries, I thought maybe I’d share a little view of where I am – though at the moment, it’s raining a great deal so the sky isn’t as blue as you see. Still, it’s warmer than my friends in North America are facing now – fear not, spring will arrive at some point. 🙂
This post, I admit, is a shameless attempt to raise my monthly views above a certain ne’er before reached threshold. Not a major threshold by the standards of serious bloggers of the world, but a significant milestone in the humdrum blogging life of yours truly. And since I know many of my regular viewers have found the birds of Papua New Guinea – especially the noble and let’s face it remarkably odd-looking Cassowary – to be fascinating viewing, I figured these few appetizers of a future, longer posting, might draw enough eyes and enough views to raise me to a new level…which I shall then spend the rest of 2014 hopelessly attempting to not far tooooooo far below. Enjoy! 🙂This next one, I am fairly sure, is some version of the bird of paradise — of which there are many versions. I plan to go back to this nature park one afternoon in the few weeks that remain to me here, and try to get the whole darn bird, but birds of paradise are like the cats of the bird world: they go their own way, unlike that grabby green lorikeet (?) that began the entry, who eyed my fingers in a way that suggested they could be nibbled like a baby carrot. I moved on rapidly, after taking that shot and another which shall grace these pages once I get the rest of the shots sorted and color corrected. For now, over and out – ciao and thanks!
smw, slt is now in New Zealand, but we decided before we start popping new shots of NZ (check back in: they’ll be up as soon as I can start posting them…), we should post the shots from our last sojourn up in the Highlands at Tari. With my end of assignment approaching closer and closer, I am trying to take note, to track, to record some of the people and places I see. Herewith just some shots from a few days out and about in the highlands again – daily life on the roads of Hela, as it were. Enjoy. More later, from lovely NZ where I’ve joined my mother and brother for a while.
…above, some lovely local produce for sale; below, another in my occasional series of shots chronicling the decorative headgear of Huli men – regular readers will recall some other similar shots, new readers can scan under categories at the bottom other entries from Tari and Hela.
Flying from Port Moresby Jackson’s International Airport (the airstrip you see above) to Tari Airstrip in Hela Province (formerly part of Southern Highlands Province), in most seasons one takes off toward the water (into the wind; during dry season when the wind has turned to an offshore flow, one flies inland and that’s when I get to take aerial shots of the House of Parliament). This puts one over Bootless Bay, from whose surface I took the shots in this post: https://somuchworldsolittletime.wordpress.com/2013/09/26/cycles-seasons/ …just in case you’re curious enough about the geography and topography of the region to want to picture it all and how it fits together a bit better.
Thence, one turns right – sometimes offering excellent views of downtown POM if you’re seated on the right-hand side of the plane, though of late they’ve tended to cut directly over it which provides poor angles for good aerial shots (how rude, huh?…) – and heads along the coast of Central and Gulf Provinces until one cuts sharply inland to fly up into the Highlands and Tari Airstrip. Though Western Province — with the mighty Fly River — or East Sepik Province (with the mighty Sepik, previously showcased for you here: https://somuchworldsolittletime.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/along-the-sepik-river/) contain the estuaries of PNG’s mightiest and best-loved rivers, still I find the coastal estuaries of Central & Gulf fascinating to view from above. I find myself thinking about sedimentation, rising sea levels, the fertile highlands and all that soil slowly washing out to sea, and all the little fishies which I so loved viewing (you know the link…Neutrally Buoyant is what I called it…) being buried in waterborne mud.
So anyway, in this post I take you on that journey as I myself went a few weeks ago – pretty much in order, from POM to the highlands. In the shots below, look for the little bumpy nubs in the landscape. Though Hela is the only Highlands region I’ve visited, I gather it is not unlike other highlands regions in that it’s both rural-agricultural by nature, and quite densely populated. As you’ll see, there are few roads but it’s in by no means wilderness. It’s highly worked landscape which has been shaped and tended by humans for 50,000 years or more. (Cultivation of taro many thousand years ago made PNG one of those places in the world where humans independently shifted from fully hunter-gatherer to at least partially agrarian.) Sweet potato, which came here via sea routes from South America several hundred years ago, is the primary crop — and I’ve tried to catch a few shots where you can readily see the nubs and bumps of a sweet-potato crop being cultivated. They are the dietary staple for most residents of the Highlands, so far as I can tell, and if you look closely in some of the shots below you will realize how omnipresent they are. Keep in mind these are nearly all Huli familial compounds, tucked away behind the lovely, well-maintained earthen ditches and walls which characterize the Huli landscape…and which, I’m told, are not so common in other Highlands regions. (If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, look at many of my past Tari posts, such as: https://somuchworldsolittletime.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/huli-walled-compounds-on-highlands-hwy.jpg
I figure that’s enough text, and enough of a mix of topography, ethnography and photography for one weekend. We’ve just finished a major conference here, and I’m entering the last phase of my assignment here – which brings on feelings of anticipatory nostalgia since my experiences and interactions with colleagues and communities have been so very rich here. If anyone’s curious, I’ll provide two links to coverage of the conference, the first audio (yours truly) and the other textual (the Guardian):
Enjoy the photos and any of the other links you choose to view. Peace, out. 🙂
There are orchids purple or yellow, big or small; shaped like a lady’s slipper or like a corkscrew of pasta; they hang or grow in the boles of trees more often than not. To kids growing up as I did, they are a thing of mystery from lands far away (though, in fact, there are native orchid species in North America, just not quite so showy and flashy as some their tropical cousins), and though I’ve never been tempted to grow them I do love looking at them. As I noted in my last post, the annual PNG Orchid Show was held a few weeks ago down the street from us at the House of Parliament. Enjoy this stroll through the garden – after all, can one ever have too much of such beauty in one’s life or on one’s computer screen? 🙂 Peace, out…
Click on an image in the gallery below to open a larger size, if you wish, which will also give you the name…and, to my chagrin, show you a few types and the fact that my fingers aren’t always confident about how to spell the adjective l a v e n d e r … but now I’ve got them posted and loaded, I am too lazy to unload them and change their names. Sorry. (Tip: to get back out of the gallery, ‘escape’ worked for me…)
…and yes, there has to be one that’s not an orchid, just to ssee if you’re paying attention. I think this guy lives in the garden at parliament full-time, while most of the orchids were short-term visitors. 🙂
Two weekends ago, Parliament House here in Port Moresby played host to the 2013 Orchid Show — I want to say Orchid Spectacular but that may be how I felt about it, rather than its real name. As usual, I went wild, and sitting now in my camera are many photos of many more types of orchids than you, perhaps, imagined existed. The photo above is the only one with orchids for this post, because … well, a) I have to break them up so the entries are less imposing and b) I haven’t sorted all the orchid shots yet. So what you get here are a few more shots of Parliament House than I have been able to show you before. It’s virtually next door to where I’m living – where I sit as I type these words – but so far I’ve only shown you a few aerial shots of it (https://somuchworldsolittletime.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/beauty-big-and-small/, for example), or a far-away shot in last year’s independence-day entry, which also included the (so far) only views of the ever-popular funny-looking cassowary. (Here, if you’d like to see it again: https://somuchworldsolittletime.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/png-37-years-of-independence/ — and BTW: I have confirmed that the cassowary egg which formed part of a peace accord in the highland some months ago would have been for consumption, not for any other purpose.) Also for the record, I promise to do my very best, before my time here winds down, to get back to the national botanic gardens and try for more shots of cassowaries, birds of paradise, tree kangaroos, and other unique fauna you will not find elsewhere. For now: enjoy the arts of PNG as displayed at this proud national symbol on a festive weekend.
smw, slt has landed back in lovely Port Moresby, PNG after a 44-hour transit period from Lisbon – yep, whence we last posted as two of you visibly, correctly, deduced – and while we haven’t had time to sort all the photos from Lisbon which, trust us, will be gorgeous when we get around to posting them because…well, Lisbon is a gorgeous city…we have had a chance to color-correct two shots taken from the water during a dive trip back on Bootless Bay (which is virtually an extension of the runway of Port Moresby Jackson’s International Airport), and this has reminded me again of seasons. As if I needed to be reminded of such, since I was in Europe when the earth’s rotation on its tilted axis around the sun crossed that invisible line in the dimensions of space which mean that, here in the south, we’re into spring and back there in north, they’re (you’re) into autumn. In the tropics, as you likely know, these seasons tend to mean dry and wet more than hot and cold – though it does get delightfully less hot during Port Moresby’s winter i.e. June-September or so. And since I just flew in over it all again yesterday, and since I’ve had occasion over the 1.5 years I’ve posted from here to show you more than once a specific feature of the coastline of Port Moresby, I present you with brief and vivid example of the difference between late winter (late dry season) and early winter (end of wet season).
If you are viewing this in chrome (firefox has trouble with these layout templates, so tends to overlap photos and such), you should see a smaller, greener image of Pyramid Peak to the right or above this text. At the top of this post you see virtually the exact same photo, shot almost exactly three months later: small shot, June; large shot, September just before I flew out to Amsterdam. To everything — turn, turn turn — there is a season — turn, turn, turn… And, for me, the season has come to return actively to work, dig back into that stack of emails and planning for 2014 activities and all the work I love. Lisbon shots will appear in this space sometime soonish, I hope. But for now, those of you wondering where and how I am can imagine me in the late dry season with a big pile of work that I’m actually surprisingly eager to dig back into. I hope this finds you well whether you are beginning your spring or your autumn. Peace, out. (Oh, and btw if you’d like more dry-wet comparisons of where I am, hit either of the other posts where I showed stuff in and around Pyramid Peak, here: https://somuchworldsolittletime.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/coast-highlands-coral-sea-by-land-and-by-air/ and here https://somuchworldsolittletime.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/paul-takes-to-the-water-at-long-last/
smw, slt has been back from the 1.5-week Australia holiday for three weeks, and tomorrow we’re off again for meetings in Amsterdam, the annual gathering of us all from the various parts of the world to talk about strategy, planning, management, what have you. It’s been nearly a year since I last had much in-person interaction with my peers and HQ colleagues, so I’m quite looking forward to the meetings, even if I’m not so excited about the 30-hour transit time it wil take to get me from a Port moresby mid-day to an Amsterdam early morning. With such long flights pending, and deep vein thrombosis always a known risk, I’ve been out diving and hiking, swimming and playing tennis to keep this old circulatory system and these weary bones working as well as possible. Herewith a few shots from the most recent bushwalk, up to that lovely hike along the ridge and mountains through the rubber plantation to where the world falls away in one of the most dramatic cliff drops I know of. (Ok, it’s not grand canyon, but it’s pretty remarkable, no?) This time I remembered to record a bit of the rubber-tapping and collection process for your enjoyment or edification. Enjoy…or be edified :-).
When you see wide, skinny shots like this it means I’m trying out my camera’s panning panorama function. The one above should have been tatken at higher resolution b/c now it appears a bit pixellated…but let me know: aside from the image-size and pixellation issue, do you find these panoramas an interesting addition to the mix, or do you prefer standard-format shots? Also, you will have noticed that we’re fairly well into the dry season at this point. Quite a different level of vegetation, lushness and greenery from, say, a highlands rainforest walk, suh as these shots from earlier in the year up at Ambua: https://somuchworldsolittletime.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/moss-mushrooms-a-rainforest-walk/
I admit that I love that shot below: it’s a hardened blob of tapped rubber, after being tipped out of a drip bucket like the ones you see in both of the prior shots (immediately above, and higher up)…but doesn’t it look almost like a luscious dollop of whipped cream atop a mug of mocha with a sprinkle of nutmeg? 🙂
Here at smw, slt we’ve spent a few weeks away from home – first helping out at the base of our new project in Port Moresby, about which you can find links in our last post, and then visiting our longstanding project up in Tari. While at the new project I was able to ride along for a sensitization outing at 9-Mile market here in Port Moresby (pics above, and many shots below). While on the flight to Tari, I was able to get some better shots looking inland at Port Moresby & the coastline around us than I recall having a chance at before. I hope you’re not all getting bored with the aerial shots of Moresby and environs. As usual, not much story here, just pics of life and what I’ve been seeing. Btw, the umbrella above is modeled on the PNG flag.
Another note: since my personal computer died, I’ve been posting from a backup which has only firefox and not google chrome. I find that these posts read much better in chrome than firefox, so if you’re finding that photos overlap and you can’t see it all very well, I suggest that you consider another browser. Not that I want to shill for the g-word-company…but I do find chrome a bit better for viewing these than either firefox or explorer, for what it’s worth.
Another note: if you wish to see links to the coverage of our new project, go to this post: https://somuchworldsolittletime.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/spiderwebs-on-a-misty-hike-and-one-dead-computer/ and if you are curious, the hike from which those photos came took us essentially from the top left corner on this photo immediately above (assuming your browser shows what I hope), along the ridge of hills you see, to just about where you see the big road hit the port in the center-right. From this angle, you’d never really imagine it could feel so remote & wild from inside it, huh?
Above: intoxicants are us at 9 Mile market (the green nut-looking things are buai aka betel nut); and below the intoxicatingly lovely highland mountains of Hela Province on a road trip I took down Komo, a district centre at the end of the Highlands highway just next to the massive PNG LNG project which has enormously affected development and the economy in most parts of PNG that I know — POM because of corporate workers etc., Lae because of the harbor which is at literally the other end of the road from what you’ll see here, and of course the highlands and especially Hela itself because…well, that’s where the LNG is physically being extracted.
When you see the big trucks carrying ocean-going freight containers over the one-lane bridge across the river which you see directly below (that river shot was taken from the bridge while it was temporarily closed to clear some planks or reinforcement of some sort or other), or the truck that’s gone off the edge of the road and overturned itself, keep in mind that until about 30 years ago there was no road here. I’ve not researched when the highlands highway reached Komo, but I sense it was roughly 30 years ago. The LNG construction started…about 3.5 years ago.
Above: any time you get off the road for a nature call, you find amazing stuff — flowers or odd other growths that you’ve never imagined before. We heard a bird of paradise calling on this nature-stop, but only one of us (not me) saw the thing. I’ve heard them several times, but not seen one yet. Sheesh. Another colleague commented he’d seen then twice and killed one once for feathers for his head-gear…to which I pointed out it’s no big surprise they hide from humans now!
I had trouble getting a good focus on these tree flowers so I tried to make art out of it. Sorry. Below: the cooks seemed happy to welcome me back to Tari this time. 🙂
Let me please begin by stating again that this is not a work blog, that this is my own personal photo-driven reflection of where I am, who I am now (how much or little fuzz there is on the top of my head or around my cheeks, etc.), so that my friends and family can keep track when I am away for long periods of time…as has been true most of the time quite a while.
Still and all, I am a person who works. A person for whom work occupies a tremendously large place in my life; a person who works for an organization whose accomplishments and principles make me proud. And a person who happens to be where he is, more often than not, because that’s where work has sent me. And let me just say, as I have a few times in recent months, that work has been filling my days quite full. My general rule is that if something about the work I’m engaged in has made the public media sphere, then I can share it on here.
So it’s known here in PNG that MSF’s first project responding to family & sexual violence in PNG, based in Lae, handed over back to the hospital within which it’s based. The handover ceremony was on 21st June, and I was nicely quoted in the media and received a few lovely gifts and very kind words of appreciation on behalf of our many hardworking colleagues. I also took a lot of pictures. The pictures showed wonderful cultural sights, dancers who danced along the road to the FSC (family support centre) where I handed over the key to the Deputy Secretary for Health…the dancers were made up and dressed beautifully, one presumes in the style of Morobe Province. The dancers sang “MSF” and various other things as they danced along the road. I have…had…wonderful pictures of these dancers! And of me posing with them!
…Until I needed to spend a few days in a new places here in POM, helping the project team for our new project settle into their new digs. You know, helping hand kind of thing. You can imagine, new place and new habits and your usual patterns fall apart and you do something F***ING idiotic like…put all your stuff from yoru overnight back in the bottom of the one wardrobe in your temporary bedroom and there’s no desk, but you want your wet tennis gear to dry overnight, so you hang it on the hangers in the … one wardrobe … where they drip … onto your computer … onto which you’ve transferred the photos from the Lae handover and, in a fit of organization deleted them from the SD card in the camera … and your computer fries, completely, battery eroded. I suspect the dripped sweat from the tennis gear was just the final straw after the humidity of PNG, but that’s one fine and expensive laptop down and dead, and one set of lovely photos sadly lost and no longer share-able. Sorry, folks.
I can, however, share with you a few more links to very public things we’ve been saying about our work, my colleagues and I. Links to quite a few of them are below, and do note that one of them has links to both TV and radio coverage.
And I can share these new photos I made on last week’s POM Bushwalker hike: further view of Port Moresby, taken from a hike entirely within the greater POM area, from close to where I live up and over the ridges to Burns Peak at the edge of downtown. It’s from the road that goes through the pass next to Burns Peak that many of the lovely views of the harbor that appeared here a few weeks ago were taken. The start of the hike was wonderfully atmospheric because of the heaviest low-lying fog I’ve experienced here. It really made for a wonderful mood, although it made the views a bit less clear and spectacular. It also blocked the sun for which we were happy hiking up all those steep hills!
I couldn’t help myself. Today was a sunny, lovely winter day, meaning that it’s only hot in the direct sun rather than unbearable. Immediately when I headed downtown for my usual Sunday-morning swim, I realized this was the day for taking photos, not yesterday. So, with apologies for the less-well-done shots yesterday, here are some other views of the same things, and a few new ones as well. I’ll spare you more captions, and more text. Comment or write if you want to know what anything is.
…and a few shots from the air out of Lae. I say this often, but it’s been one helluva month, June 2013. I sorta figured it would be since we planned on the handover of the project in Lae back to the hospital it’s housed in – these transitions often mean some new work and unpredictability, but as alway, the added work hasn’t quite arrived in the ways or places one expected. Still, I did spend last weekend in Lae for an official handover ceremony which generated some lovely shots of the dancers at the ceremony, yours truly being official, and other such highlights. Once I get them all sorted, and figure out what I can reasonably post here, I’ll be sharing them with you.
But for now, to start sorting and clearing some pics off my camera, I’ve decided it’s time to show you all a bit of the street life of POM. I don’t walk around town much here – not really a great city to walk around, since quite aside from how hot it would be, I’d be uncomfortable walking around with a camera. Someone who just joined us after a stint over in South Sudan says a former colleague (now working there, she knows who she is and we’ll see if she reads this or not…) says an ex-mission-colleague had unpleasant things to say about my home town. So I decided it was time to show you all a bit of our town. It’s really not so bad – ok, no Paris, but really a place I’ve come to enjoy living in. Not ready for tourism – trust me on this – but really not a bad place to live if you’ve got some friends and a job that keeps you well occupied. Which mine does. So anyway, here you go, my mini-ode to POM. Ok, ok, I know my ode to LA and some of its neighborhoods was more convincing…but I’ve lived there longer. And, well, yeah, there are a lot more nice buildings and all. But still: enjoy.
We started with my favorite view of the harbor from the Poreporena Freeway (also shown immediately below, built in the late 1990s to funnel traffic more rapidly from the suburban-and-government sprawl side of town up and over the ridge of hills to the heart of the older part of town by the water) – looking down at the harbor and the edge of town by the yacht cub. Immeidately above is my favorite traffic-circle sculpture in town: POM has many of these and I need to try to find a way to get out and get photos of more of them. This one’s still fairly new: went up late last year, maybe, and we all enjoyed trying to figure out how they were planning to paint it, as the coast of primer (dark brown) went on, then it got painted white (and we all thought: graffiti, here we come), and then they did this absolutely lovely realistic painting. And so far they’ve really been maintaining it: any time it gets graffiti’d, it’s painted over quickly. Someone is really dedicated to keeping this shell as lovely as it is now. Civic pride rules.
…and a closeup of the shell sculpture. These were all taken from a moving car. Sorry they’re not better.
…and that it wasn’t a sunnier morning when I finally took my camera out and about. Now we’re just following my regular route from home, wave to the shell sculpture, past the SP (South Pacific) Brewery at the big traffic circle (home also to Sunny Bunny’s Kindergarten), onto the start of the Poreporena Freeway. You will be seeing pretty much all of its roughly 4km? length: it starts right by the brewery, runs the stretch below, into the hills you see ahead, turns a corner and then you get the harbor views you see below…and ends when it hits town. You will have noticed that the digicel mobile network advertises quite heavily.
And that’s it for POM. Then there’s the flower photo that I rather feel I should try to include in every shot. The range of tropical flowers that just occur naturally in PNG is a constant amazement even after 15 months. I mean, you walk past a tree and realize that the flower clinging to it is the kind of orchid you pay $5 per stem for back home, and you realize here you’re sort of taking all the color and beauty for granted. I have to be careful here, because I don’t want to go and encourage too many more people to ask me about taking a vacation here. My main reason to discourage vacationers is actually that the quality for investment is too low: flight expense to get here is INSANE, and once here, the quality of hotels is mediocre and the cost INSANE. So you pay a boatload for a pretty crap hotel. If and when the country ever starts choosing to put more investment and support into the tourism sector, this place can dominate tourism in the Pacific-island region. Compared to, say, Fiji or Samoa or French Polynesia, I think PNG has a LOT more to offer, all the same as those other places in terms of tropical oceans, beaches and reefs, but with the addition of a vast island with high mountains, rivers, and hundreds of cultures tracing their history back tens of thousands of year. But right now this is not at all a tourism-friendly economy and infrastructure, in my opinion. I hope it will be. Then, aside from the poor value you get for your expensive rooms and flights, there are various notable security challenges. I needn’t go on about those; anyone who follows PNG in the websphere is aware that there are issues with crime and violence.
In any case, the rest are several shots I took flying out of Lae on Tuesday. On my way in, last Thursday, we flew over a lake I’d never flown over before and had gorgeous views directly down over it, nestled in its rumpled green setting of hills and with bits of algae giving it a green shimmer at the edges. Didn’t have my camera in my pocket that time, so remembered to keep it with me on the way out. So here’s what you get. It might have been my last flight into Lae – since we won’t have an active project there any more, I won’t have much reason to get there again. So this was a rather sad farewell, but also exciting b/c I feel we’re having some success with the work here. There may soon be some public links on that score to which I can refer you again. Cheers.
My readers might be forgiven if they’ve forgotten, in the fifteen months since I first posted from POM, that we’re on an island here. I, on the other hand, probably should not forgive myself for that. There was one entry with boat-pics, from Bougainville last year…and, guess what, that was my sole outing on a boat in more than a year in PNG from March 2012 until…today. Sad but true. Blame it on whatever: my friends here have been hiking and tennis friends…the few waterborne friends I have spend their weekends fishing (I’d rather scrub floors…)…work…etc. etc. A truly pathetic show for someone who loves diving, nature, and has spent the past year living in short reach of some of the world’s great diving. But I’m also a bit of a lemming, and don’t tend to want go out with a dive group that’s not vouched for by someone I feel like I know a bit.
Having finally met a few friends who enjoy regular dives with one of the local groups early this year, I returned from my LA sojourn … nine weeks ago already?! … determined to get back on, and under, the water. To spur myself in that direction, I invested in diving gear the day before I left LA. So today, off I went, dive gear still embarrassingly carrying its tags but at least complete and apparently more or less appropriate. Sorry to say I didn’t burn even more on an underwater camera … but I suspect some such thing will be in my future. Look forward to more boat-side and possibly underwater pics in the future. For now I hope you enjoy the waterside views of aptly-named pyramid peak (from whose summit I took pics of Bootless Bay where this dive took place, which you can see if you’d like, in this post a few months ago: https://somuchworldsolittletime.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/coast-highlands-coral-sea-by-land-and-by-air/
I’m happy to report that, aside from a goggle mini-disaster which shortened the first dive and which my dive buddy above helped me sort out, my gear is working great and my six-year-dormant dive skills resurfaced reasonably well. Enjoy these views looking in towards the coast for a change, rather than out from it. The mix of cloud and sun led to some interesting effects on the water and the small islands in the bay. Peace, all. And happy pride, wherever applicable. :-).
smw, slt has been back in the hills, able for the first time in very nearly a month to get out and about. It was a gorgeous day – dry season has arrived, so it’s not too terribly hot…which was a real gift, since there was such an enormous group out for this popular hike through a rubber plantation near Port Moresby. With such a large group, after our brief stop at the waterfall you saw above, our group got a wee bit split up and I & some friends ended up with the group that didn’t follow the sanctioned path, and ended up doing a rather fun bit of bush-whacking – fun for some of us, not enjoyable for others who I think found it more than they’d gambled on. I’m glad of the good weather because I would not have enjoyed the bush-whacking in the wet, humid, hot season nearly as much…probably not at all in fact. As an aside, I’m sorry I was too wrapped up in a great chat with a(nother) friend to get any photos of the rubber-tapping cups on the trees. But you can always go back here if you wanna see yours truly’s take on rubber trees being tapped: https://somuchworldsolittletime.wordpress.com/2006/08/20/rubber-trees/, from a stroll through another plantation in Malaysia some years ago. If that’s not enough, we’ll likely go to this plantation again and I’ll try to get some more rubber-tree shots for you then…I must also offer a FAR MORE important apology, right: turns out my lens had something on it, which I didn’t notice. I’m hoping it’s not a permanent scratch. I’ve decided most of the pics are still worth showing despite the fuzzy bit, and I hope you agree…this shot immediately below, taken during the up-and-down bushwhacking part that was not in the original plan, is an example. Cross your fingers with me that this is not something permanently on the lens… Above and below, and then again several times, you see the extraordinarily sheer and steep cliff drop-off where the water fall was. It’s shocking, dramatic, scary, and very beautiful all at once. I’d been on this hike once before last year, and forgot my camera that time. This time I was determined to have it along so I could catalog the views for myself.
I suspect I’m overdoing the shots of the cliff and drop-off, but it truly is so startling and compelling that I kept snapping. And I’ve been selective about what I put up on here, honestly! As you see, the walk took in grasslands with gum trees, steep hills strewn with boulders as though a giant had gotten angry and started throwing them about, and lots more. It’s great hike – I just wish my camera didn’t have that obnoxious bit on the shots of some of my favorite parts!
…the Kokoda Trail, that is. To quote beloved Wikipedia (do donate…where would we be without them??!!), “The Kokoda Trail or Track is a single-file foot thoroughfare that runs 96 kilometres (60 mi) overland — 60 kilometres (37 mi) in a straight line — through the Owen Stanley Range in Papua New Guinea. The track is the most famous in Papua New Guinea and is known for being the location of the World War II battle between Japanese and Australian forces in 1942.”
Last Sunday, the POM Bushwalking group (there’s a facebook page, you know?) dipped its toe into the first chunk of the Kokoda Trail, from Owers Corner down to the Goldie River. It is very beautiful, very muddy, intensely steep in many places, and if the sun is shining then downright brutal coming back uphill. I may be playing tennis a few hours a week in the evenings here, but I still felt like my little old heart would give out on the uphill return in the hot sun. One goes through that marker directly above and then steeply downhill past what you can see in the very first pic: notice how, behind the grass, all you see is the next range of hills — well, that’s on the other side of the Goldie River, I guess…and you notice it doesn’t look all that far away, meaning one goes very steeply down, then very steeply back up. And to do the whole trail, one does this many times in the space of the above-mentioned 96km. This may give some idea why, in WWII, the front line between Allied and Japanese forces ran along the mountains here.
…this is a short post. We’re intensely busy at work, but as you know, I don’t really do work on this blog. It’s about me and what I’m seeing here. So we’ll leave it at that for now and hope this small taste of the trail is interesting for y’all. Peace, out.
smw, slt has now been back in PNG for three weeks, after our lovely lazy long holiday in Los Angeles. Much is happening on the work front which has kept me busy and often feeling rather overwhelmed. Thus the usual Sunday outing during my extended visit to Tari this past week was very welcome: we went to Ambua Lodge and walked around their ravine and rainforest during a rain that ranged from quite strong to dripping mist, over the course of our couple-hour ramble. I got into the mood of it – so long as I’d be ending muddy and wet regardless, I decided to disengage my brain from daily mundane worries and look at all the layers and varieties of life packed into each square centimeter of ground, tree and even air that I could find. Hope you enjoy these views of a wet walk through the rainforest near Tari.
…And often, as in the case of this mushroom and moss-bedecked tree, or the long red hanging berries (anyone know what those are??), I couldn’t decide which angle or close-up I found most fascinating for viewing it. So you get both…hope it doesn’t bore you.
In 9th grade biology class I was required to design a controlled experiment of my own – this was a first for me. I recall that my experiment involved, among a few other kinds of plants, New Guinea impatiens – which you see, above, in their native habitat. Who knew that … thirty-five years later?! … I’d end up on the other side of the world seeing them in their native land? Below you see what I think of as the departure lounge at Tari Airstrip, where I waited for 2.5 hours for a delayed flight on Thursday only to get cut off as darling AirNuigini decided, for reasons unknown, not to let everyone with boarding cards board. You wonder why I don’t encourage my friends to come here for tourist reasons, much as I’m obviously enjoying it as a work location for myself? Among other reasons, its air travel situation requires more patience & flexibility than most people want to need on vacation — even Americans who’ve adapted to the farce that is air travel in the US these days.
so smw, slt has been back in pom for precisely six weeks now, since the end of the vacation from which those lovely last photos of coastal fnq originated. thanks to all who liked and commented on that post – i seem to be picking up some readers who didn’t know me back when: i’m delighted that my pics and ramblings appeal to you. in this post – mostly photos from a wonderful hike just today, up a mountain to a swimmable many-tiered waterfall, past a mini-copper mine (we’re talking a watery mosquito-breeding hole in the side of a hill: don’t get excited), and back through grassy fields and hillsides. you’ll notice that rainy season has returned to pom, borne on the change of wind direction: which made possible the aerial photos of downtown and suburban-sprawly port moresby, including the majestic and rather dramatic house of parliament (a short walk, actually, from where i sit as i post this…), since the planes now land and take off in the opposite direction, northbound rather than southbound. honestly: i’ve never carried my camera aboard so many flights as i do in png, nor been as glad so often that i have it with me. i will write nothing more – you may have heard some distressing things in the news about png lately; those exist, as they do for the US and any other place where humans gather; but so do very many people, places and things of beauty. i’m choosing to focus on those, at the moment. enjoy.
…i was also in tari this week on a visit; the head decoration you see up above in the fourth photo is one of our colleagues there: many huli men routinely adorn their heads or their hats with leaves and other such accessories, which when you first arrive from the streets of LA or Paris seems unusual, but it really grows on you. the other shots above and below are from tari hospital and surroundings.
Here you really see how the coral reefs grow up closer to the water and how they differ from the sandy bottom or whatever else there is. At the top is a real island with sand around it; but below that there is only one area which barely was breaching the surface. This is off the coast of Gulf Province, west of POM, on the trip up to Tari earlier this week.
Below, depending on your browser and how it reads the layout: the airstrip at Tari; furhter below, you can see the old-town part of downtown at the top, and the sprawl of the suburban areas where I’m living and working, and where the House of Parliament is, all strewn around these lovely green hills. Well, now they’re green — a few weeks ago when I landed from Cairns they were getting mighty brown…
Those are not islands: that is coral just below the surface of the aptly-named Coral Sea, as I flew from POM to Cairns again yesterday – second time I’ve done that flight in this direction. God it’s a great view.
So if this text appears where I hope (this is never guaranteed, and can vary from browser to browser…so fingers crossed), then to the right & below is me at an office meeting; I put that there for the map! See the flag on the south coast, to the right side – that’s POM. The Coral sea is below it — all the stuff between Cairns — due south by southwest of POM, and where I sit watching the bright sun reflect on the ocean (that’d the Coral Sea ocean of course) as I write this — and all the pics in this entry were taken in and around POM, or in the air between Tari (left-most flag in the center of the island, of an appreciably different color) and POM in December, also from the air. Some of those shots are obviously rivers and river deltas of Gulf Province (to the left of POM, as you look at the map, and stretching inland a fair piece to abut Hela Provicne where Tari is located), but the one up above is, I think, the Highlands Highway as it stretches from Lae to Tari. (Lae is one of the flags on the map sorta due north of POM through a thick part of the island, and the HH starts there – not in POM. No roads to Highlands from POM, only planes.) Further up, you will note a photo of something I found truly stunning when I did the hike: a hillside of yellow grasses with short palms popping up out of the grasses, all sort of backlit by the sun which was just popping over the brim of the hill. It really was a stunning and unusual view.
Now, again if this appears as planned: above is a coastal shot in which, if you look closely, you can see the (few) towers of downtown POM in the distance – from the same hike as the gorgeous yellow-grass hillside – and to the left you see both docking bays at the Tari airstrip. That Air Niugini plane is the one from which those other airborne shorts were taken.
And yes, the drum-and-pipe band is part of the military barracks at Taurama, the start and finish point of our lovely coastal hike from which many of these shots come. After a hot hike in the blazing sun of tropical PNG, it was a classically where-am-I experience to sit and guzzle water while listening to militarily-precise drum-and-bagpipe music. Remember: the southern part of what’s now PNG was actually a direct British colony for a while, while the northern part became an Australian League-of-Nations mandate after it was taken away from Germany post-WWI.
This seems as good a place as any for me to put some general text. So here it is a new year- how did that happen? it feels like just last month I was baking croissants for Christmas breakfast with Mom and Steve! – and here’s Paul being a lazy so-and-so in a spacious apartment full of the mod cons in Cairns for a week of much needed sleep and disconnection before I return to start thinking about how to make 2013’s plans come to fruition as we’ve … well, as we’ve planned them, to the extent that’s ever possible in life let alone this particular line o’ work. I haven’t much of a general nature to say: these are a collection of photos taken either on the last bushwalk group hike that I joined in 2012, plus some aerial shots from the plane taken between Tari and POM in December, and between POM and Cairns (the entire flight path, all one hour of it, is over the Coral Sea aka Great Barrier Reef, more or less) just yesterday.
As always when I leave POM and come to Australia, I find myself going philosophical about human development, the development of nation states, cultural expectations of what makes for a good life or a good community. The driver who took me from airport to condo was a friendly and professional guy who would have been born just after WWII, and whose attitudes towards those of quite different skin pigments and cultural assumptions were likely more mainstream at that time than now, though I suspect I do live in a bubble and such attitudes are more common even among “my sort” than I know. Having lived as a pigmental minority in various parts of Africa and Asia, I realize it’s unavoidably universally human to single out those different from us for extra attention. I worry about the tacit assumption among those of my own pigmental type and general late-capitalist developmental background that our own ways of life, belief, eating, etc. are inherently superior. Seems to me we’ve made a fair hash of things on a number of fronts, while having real successes on others, so rigorous self-righteousness is hardly in order. On the other hand, I am reminded that when westerners first showed up in Japan we were found quite smelly (butter-smellers, I think?) and barbaric…heck, this dismissal of those who look, smell and act differently from us may e the most universal cultural trait defining humans. So I held my peace and took my driver’s attitudes as a lesson in humanity, rather than a depressing view of cultural realities in contemporary Australia.
For those on my email list, there’ll be another bit coming out shortly with random thoughts, hopefully not too terribly long. I’ve chosen to stay on for a second year in PNG. I find the place endlessly fascinating and confounding, and the work we’re doing well worth another year of my trying to get better at helping it happen. May we all be as tolerant as our hearts and heads can permit, and may the world – oy, please! – find a bit more peace and reason in 2013, especially in places close to my heart like DRC and the US Capitol building.