More Musings about PNG and my infatuation with coconuts
29.06.2013 - 01.07.2013 95 °F
Papua New Guinea is truly a unique place in the world.
No Smoking and No . . . ?
Think about this for a second. The second largest island in the world is New Guinea and on the eastern half is the relatively new country of Papua New Guinea where roughly 750 languages are spoken. That is one unique language for every 10,000 people. Pull out your Google translator and see how much that helps you in PNG.
Our arrival to the pier with Father Bogdan was thrilling to say the least. But we did arrive with Pepper only soiling his underwear. That is a problem only the fish in the Bismark Sea could solve. Compared to the truck ride up the coast, our boat ride was smooth and relaxing, no need to dodge potholes. We arrived to Kar Kar Island safely and relaxed.
PNG is a gorgeous place
The View a Few Steps from Father Bogdan's Moldy House
For me as a Westerner, Father Bogdan exemplifies a missionary priest in many ways. It's not the fact that his residence is a three bedroom house standing idyllically on stilts among coconut trees lining a black volcanic beach as his house would be considered luxurious compared to those of his neighbors. But, and this is a big butt. He lives in a tropical climate where the walls of his home are constantly bombarded by some form of water. I would safely assume that Father Bogdan would not consider himself a clean freak (his fridge didn't work and kept the frozen chicken in a cabinet under the sink). As a result of many environmental factors, his house is infested with mold. Not the friendly green mold, but the black kind that considers confident enough to overthrow a small island country.
The Single Road Circling Kar Kar Island
There are two families that cultivate cocoa and coconuts on the island of Kar Kar. Since Father Bogdan was busy saying Sunday Mass at several spots around the island, we were dropped in the capable hands of the Goodyear Family for a day. They are one of the two families with plantations. Paul is originally from Papua New Guinea and Barbara is from Germany. She initially came to spend a year as a volunteer, but met Paul, and had three beautiful children, and has made Kar Kar her home. Paul's brother Tim recently returned from Australia to help out with the family business.
Being the kind and good people the Goodyears are, Paul and Tim took part of the day to show us a good portion of their land. Pepper and I rode in the back of their Land Rover with Tim while ol' man Scuba Steve sat in the truck with Paul. We learned how labor intensive cocoa and coconuts can be. The long road to having cocoa in your chocolate starts with little white fleshy pods inside a bright yellow fruit. Through a process of drying the small acidic bean, you end up with a small brown bean that is used to make chocolate.
The Cocoa Production Process
Ever since my time in the Cook Islands, I have had an infatuation with the resourcefulness of coconuts. They are such a versatile fruit. They provide nourishment in varied ways. You can eat a young coconut, a slimy flesh coconut, or a mature coconut. All are delicious. Plus, if you find one with coconut milk, it's a nutrient rich drink. Coconuts even provide dessert and an aperitif. Within some young coconuts, there is a sweet marshmallow type of flesh. Plus, if you have a bottle of rum hanging around, bam, instant party.
After three days of small island living in Kar Kar, it was time to return to the big island. Back at the St. Fidelis Seminary, one of the chores that requires daily attention in this equatorial climate is the grass that is constantly growing. On average, Scuba Steve cuts the grass for two hours every Tuesday and Thursday. As a small form of appreciation, I decided to help cut the grass and then I recruited Pepper.
Just a Portion of the Grass Cut
In general, I have always enjoyed cutting grass. In theory, two hours cutting grass should be a stroll in the park. But oh no, not with PNG grass. The reality is PNG grass kicked my butt. I was ill prepared for the lethal combination of the heat and humidity, the spongy soil under thick bladed grass, the fear of having to dodge falling coconuts, and random assaults by ants. Halfway through cutting the grass, I began feeling a bit lightheaded. Fortunately, it rained for 15 minutes. At the end of our "service", four hours of grass cutting equated to having completed 1/20 of the campus. If you ever want to know the key to weight lose, cut grass in PNG.
I celebrated my 36th birthday (really?!?) in PNG. Unbeknown to me, the Capuchin Brothers and volunteers made me a cake for my bday. We toasted my 36 years with a little Gentlemans Johnny Walker, cake, and mint chocolate ice cream (12 chocolate chips in the entire 3 gallon container).
Do Not Have Sex!
The Papua New Guinea Post Courier had an article that caught my eye. It was titled, "Do Not Have Sex! Jail Boss Tells Female Officers to Stop Having Sexual Intercourse with Prisoners". The intriguing item about the article was that full blame was not placed on any of the prisoners themselves, but the female officers. The Police Commissioner Martin Balthazar (whose name came up often in the paper) stated that the prison has "no place for women who have no ethical morals". Obviously the prison does have a few spots available for unethical men. But honestly, how tough is prison when the female guards decide for their coffee break to skip the coffee and just have a little copulation.
On the second page of the headline article, Balthazar simply said that women "should just keep their legs closed". The reason this article was in the paper on the front page, other than reminding women to quit fornicating in prison with criminals, was the fact that the "notorious criminal William Kapris" and two other dangerous criminals had escaped. Honestly, how hard would it be for a criminal to escape in these challenging conditions (if they even really wanted to).
Prisoner: "Excuse me Officer Jodahazar, before we begin, I think I really should wash up."
Officer: "Sure take my keys over in my pants over there to use our officer bathroom. No, not that one, because that one lets you out of this place. There, that one. Now you hurry up you little sex kitten!"
I could go on forever, but for your sake, let's bring this to an end.
Question of the week - Papua New Guinea comprises the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, what country is on the other half?
First correct answer will receive a postcard from the Grand Cayman Islands in a month and a half.
How About a Little Grilled Octopus