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.
smw, slt is at this moment on vacation in Australia. In this exact moment, it’s Sydney, and tomorrow I’ll fly up to Darwin on the top end, as I understand they call it, for some exploration of Kakadu National Park and a few other remote areas rumored to be amazing. To keep myself from falling too terribly far behind on sorting, color-correcting and posting my photos, I’ve decided to pop most of the photos from my recent East Sepik outing up here. The Sepik River – next to which you see me photographed, just above – is apparently one of the longest undammed rivers in the world, is the longest in the nation of Papua New Guinea (1300 km long or something like that), and has various other important comparative distinctions. Within PNG it’s famous as creator of the Sepik Plain, one of the few areas with lots of flat land in this country so dominated by mountains. (Check back on the other photos I’ve posted from PNG, true not really a geographic sampler of PNG but still, and see if any show as much flat horizon as the shot above.)
The people who live along the river are well known within PNG for their amazing woodwork traditions — anywhere you go in PNG you’re likely to see enormous and spectacular wooden carvings which are just lovely. Also renowned are the big houses on stilts that are traditional up there. Since this was a short and full work trip, I didn’t have a lot of time to explore and take as many photos as I’d have liked…but I did do some of my usual walking around town, chatting with folks, and photographing some of the amazing flowers I saw everywhere. Hope you enjoy them. Look for more photos in the coming weeks, from highlands, where I spent some time after this trip, and then from Australia. But first, I’ll need to sort out some computer frustrations. Ah well….
…these three are all carved columns supporting the large house you’ve seen a few other pics of. It’s a guesthouse – not particularly luxurious, but friendly and interesting.
Look a bit closely and you’ll see carvings at the bow of that long canoe, above. This is Pagwi, the first place along the course of the Sepik where a road reaches the river. To the right in this shot, upstream toward West Sepik province and the PNG-Indonesia border where the river originates, are vast riverine region with no roads; to the south across the river is a large area of riverine villages and towns that stretches from the river to the foot of the mountains. We were doing some follow-up visits for the training support we provide hospitals in setting up a Family Support Center for survivors of family and sexual violence – and there are two hospitals in that area that we’ve recently worked with, so we took the chance to get out and learn more about provision of care in the areas.
The long boats, above, ply up and down the main river; the smaller canoes you’ve seen tend to cross the river and head into the smaller villages and towns on the south side toward the mountains. There are also, of course, main market towns up and down the main stretch of river as well.
Before I came to Papua New Guinea I’d been hearing about it for years. I’m one of those weirdos who can stare at maps for hours, and I sometimes carry in my head a mental of image of where I would be, if I were represented by a dot on a map. The first time I ever actually knew someone who lived and worked here, she was a colleague based in Port Moresby as I am now, back when the current MSF mission was launched in 2007. I had this image that Port Moresby would be on the north coast of the island. But no. My dot on the map would appear on the southern side – pretty far to the southeastern side, though not at the very eastern end.That’s the town of Alotau. (Keep in mind, please, that the vagaries of colonialism and global power politics mean that the western half of this island is part of the nation of Indonesia.) So picture a big island – second largest in the world? third largest? check it out on Wikipedia – that’s pretty long east to west, and not quite as long north to south. The center of this big, rugged island is full of steep & dramatic mountains – these are generally called the Highlands. The coast has lots of mountains also, though there are parts I’ve not been to yet which have big coastal wetlands and valleys.
Unfortunately, in this post you’ll only see one photo taken in the Highlands – it’s the very last shot, of me standing in front the airstrip at Tari, in what is becoming Hela Province but used to be Southern Highlands Province.Most of these shots were taken around Port Moresby – like the one just above, taken just last week when I — finally!! — got out with the bushwalking group that does organized hikes round about greater Port Moresby. Some, like the one just below, were taken in Lae on the north coast – sorta where I originally imagined that Port Moresby might be, back before I sat down with a map and started trying to picture where I’d be living and working when I actually arrived here.
Our oldest project in PNG is in Lae — we work with the local hospital, running the Family Support Center which provides specialized care for survivors of family & sexual violence. For that reason, when we decided to hold our first-ever MSF field associative debate in PNG, we decided to hold it in Lae. People from our other projects, in Tari and on the island of Bougainville to the east of New Guinea, and also from the coordination teams in Port Moresby and Buka, all got together for some great discussions about our work here – focused on the topics of access and negotiation. You’ll see a few pictures of me leading discussions either at the main FAD in Lae, or at the mini-discussion we held here in Port Moresby on my second weekend here.
So yeah – I’ve been here nearly two months. I’m in a bigger city again so I can have a social life, and I’m slowly establishing some patterns. Mostly I’ve been working and I won’t bore you with that. Though I will encourage you to check out this link, which summarizes one of the main things we’ve focused on in our work here in PNG: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/publications/article.cfm?id=5390&cat=special-report
The highlands are as beautiful as I expected, though I have to admit I’ve become spoiled – first Manipur, then North Kivu, now PNG: I just keep going to places that are amazingly beautiful. I have not gotten out quite as much as I’d have liked – one weekend I joined several colleagues for a road trip northeast of town to Crystal Rapids, which you see just above. I’ve been able to play tennis once with a colleague and hope to do so more often; just as I hope to join the bushwalking group as often as possible.
But for now I think I’ll just leave you with some shots of where I’ve been and what I’m seeing out my window, so to speak. Thanks.