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.
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. 🙂
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. 🙂
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…
smw, slt is in Berlin for a bit. This is about the annual-plan meetings and preparation for 2013. An aspect to my new role that, well…I think I can learn to like. I won’t go into much detail, but suffice to say that with so many projects and so many missions, so much need for good work in so many places in the world, when it comes to annual budget and planning time, one must really have one’s ducks lined up nicely if one hopes to conduct new activities, improve quality of management or outreach or communications, etc. – it’s pretty competitive and so many missions are trying to do a lot. I’m not used to being involved at this level – more used to defending an individual project rather than having a good bead on the kinds of things that HQ looks at for multiple projects or a mission as a whole. Not exactly an easy transition for me, but enough about that. After the meetings are all done, I’ll have a few days of vacation.
In the meantime, I am taking advantage of being here for some conerts, plays, etc. And of course I’m taking advantage of good, readily-available internet to post whatever photos I have up on the blog. Herewith shots from two hikes I took in the last month — most of the shots from a lovely hike around Tari up in the highlands (above, and all but the last three & the shot immediately below), and then four pics from a bushwalking group hike around POM. The POM ones stand out becuase it’s much drier – was the very end of the dry season; rains started up a few days later, about two or three weeks ago though my sense of time is a bit off these days. I’m trying to get a lot of sleep. Hope everyone is well. Ciao.
OK, one of my total favorite things is how kids everywhere feel they must do something, other than standing there and smiling, when some white guy takes their photo. It’s quite universal – I recall a photo I posted on the blog from Nigeria more than five years ago, remarkably similar to this in the style of the kids, posing as it were for their closeup. It’s great fun for all involved…
When we got to the first village on our hike, the kids came running. Seems we’re one of the more interesting parts of their weekend. 🙂 The hikes are definitely a highlight for those of us who get to go on them. Further below, you see how Tari is really situated in a basin ringed by hills, and all fairly high up in the highlands to begin with.
Below, that’s downtown Tari — which is basically an airstrip, the hospital, a few shops, and some government buildings. The people all still live in traditional compounds, divided by the kinds of steep walled walkways between and among different compounds that you’ve been seeing – and perhaps wondering about (example two shots above, with Katja). The guys on the fence, below, are bidding us farewell at what I assume is the edge of their family’s territory after walking with us, cutting us walking sticks from local bushes when the way got too steep and muddy (man, it’s slippery on those clay-y muddy hills after a bit of rain…), and generally keeping us company for much of the lovely walk.
For the final shots, we’re back to the end-of-dry-season hills around Port Moresby and that excellent hike I did a few weeks ago, last chance I had to get out hiking in POM for the time being. Now the rainy season is back in POM, so it’ll be mud hikes& mildewed clothes for the next several months.
It will, I trust, not have escaped your notice that probably the coastal sunset shot might not have been taken in the same location as the shot of me above. For those of you aware that I’m now finishing a two-week vacation in Australia, it may not have escaped your notice that these don’t look like photos from Australia so much, either. I’m clearing the last photos from my visit to Wewak & Maprik and other parts of East Sepik Province, as well as a recent (late July) visit to Tari in the highlands, so that I can next focus on the shots of this lovely Australia vacation. This way, whenever I get around to it, those shots from Kakadu National Park etc. will sit at the main page of the blog for a long time, since I doubt I’ll do a lot of posts for a while once I get those finally sorted and up….I’ll be ready to do other things with my time hehe. 🙂
But in the meantime I do hope you’ll enjoy these shots from the highlands, with a few shots from the coast, of PNG. For anyone who’s not already heard, I heartily recommend two links to radio interviews given by a wonderful colleague of mine who recent left the mission and did some interviews on her way out; those links are here:
It will not have escaped anyone that I love flowers. These were all shot on a nice walk I took with the Tari team around Ambua lodge, a tourist near Tari in the highlands where I also saw the waterfall that begins this entry.
Perhaps between the links, and these shots, I’ll keep you busy enough for the moment that no one will mind waiting a bit longer for the shots from Kakadu National Park where I spent a wonderful birthday with my friends Howard and Gene last week. For now, that’s it…Hope all’s well with everyone. Ciao.