Thursday, October 21, 2010

On a roll.... The Leron Horse Sports Day

Let me start by saying that they haven't heard of the word Gymkhana in PNG, so it was decided it would be a 'Horse Sports Day"

It was 6 months in the making, and a cracker day. We had flag racing, apple bobbing, a stockmans race, pole bending, face painting, lots of cool prizes and BBQ lunch.

We asked a few big companies in PNG to sponsor and donate prizes and we ended up with loads of t-shirts, caps, tool kits, grocery vouchers, stubby coolers, belts, sunnies, and pocket knives. So the stakes were high!

The day started with a missing truck driver. He went to get fuel at 6 am and was never seen again, he was supposed to pick up 100 workers from their housing compound and drive the hour it takes to get to Leron. But we were determined to start on time, and not run on PNG time. Oh, the truck driver also had half the saddles!!! So we started the first race and had a saddle swap after each heat!

Ready to race..... one slight hiccup.

After the rocky start, all went well...... until the snake. One of the men in the neighboring village found a python five days earlier. He bought it along for everyone to see. But *apparently* he kept the snake for 5 days and didn't give it any food, so shortly after lunch, the biggest dust storm of all time howled through the field, almost taking horses and their riders to Cansas. Mother nature did it, you just ask anyone who knew about the snake!

We had traditional sing sing performances, a theater production on how an abattoirs works right down to stripping the clothes of a small child being held up by his legs, to demonstrate skinning?! The kids had a blast in the sack race and 3 legged race, we would have had a good time on the egg and spoon race, but someone stole the golf balls. They're expensive you know!

Apple bobbing....

The theatre production.....

There were shelters built for all the different Beef departments. Cropping, Abattoirs, Leron cowboys, Gusap Cowboys, Admin, and this was for the VIP guests. lol RSVP:VIP? Same same.

On the way home, much to Tarzan's dismay, a large grazing paddock had been intentionally burt. Apparently its not uncommon, if someone knows that there aren't many people around they'll torch a bit of land.

But fortunately it didn't put much of a dampener on everyone's spirits, here's a happy tribe on the bus on the way home....

Sacking someone.

Long time no blog. Hi all.

Well so much has happened i don't know where to start, so ill tell you the story of the untrustworthy house Meri.

Once upon a time a new family arrived in PNG, the house came with a house Meri who, as per the previous company's policy came with the house. In her eyes, it was 'her' house iykwim. She knew the house well, and cleaned it within an inch of its life. She washed folded and ironed everything, down to the sheets. She had been a house Meri for 20 years. So when we arrived i was very cautious not to step on toes and pretty much left her to her own devices. When this company took over they gave everyone a pay rise and food was no longer an entitlement. But how could i not feed the ladies that work here (Garden Meri too), when i have so much and they have so little. So i fed them a big lunch, coffee and tea and more often then not cake, biscuit or slice. I bought them both a cooking element for their homes so they didn't have to go home and light a fire every night. I buy them clothes, toiletries, food for their families and little nick nacks from time to time if i see something appropriate.

So over time, Our house Meri's disdain for me became more apparent. She disliked the fact that i made cakes for other people, gave gifts to others and was generally welcoming in my home. She didn't like other children coming to play with the girls, particularly national kids, and when they did come she was nasty when i wasn't looking (pr so she thought!). She said that i shouldn't give anyone to anything except her. She told our garden Meri she was not to pick up the children, to watch them but keep working. When i asked her to watch the girls for an hour i came back to find her sleeping in a chair. When i went to Aus i left food and money for her and the garden Meri, she ate all the food, spent the money and gave nothing to the garden Meri?!

She began to talk about me behind my back and soon word got back to me. As you can imagine i was pretty pissed off. I noticed that there was no money coming back from the washing, she would always check the pockets and bring the money upstairs and put it on the table. We are pretty useless at taking coins out of our pockets, so i was a little suspicious. So i set her up, put money in the washing and then after it was all done Tarzan confronted her and asked where the money was. She pretended to look around and couldn't find it. So i went into their bathroom and picked up another pair of her shorts and the pocket jingled. I asked what it was and she said "Oh that's right i was going to give it back later" Whatever. She was then told she was suspended and to leave the premise. WELL, you should have seen her go. She started yelling and screaming, accusing us of stealing her money from her Bilum and demanding we give her $60. She then told Tarzan that "This is my country, don't mess with me, this is my country! You want to fight me? Come on, Come on Fight me! Fight me!" by this stage i was a little concerned so called security to remove her. She finally left, but not before saying she was taking us to court for testing her trustworthiness?! Nothing would surprise me in this country.

So for the last two weeks there has been an appeal process. She was fired, appealed, making up a letter full of lies, it was reviewed, and then 3 weeks later she was fired for the final time. Si i have spent 3 weeks packing my dacks every time i go to the market, thinking she's hiding behind a tree with a bush knife. I have been assured she is all talk and no action, but i'm not willing to find out.

I can understand her being angry, upset and all of that, she is unlikely to find another job as there isn't a lot around and she is getting older. But she dug her own grave. I do feel a tiny bit sorry for her, but not much and not often. Maybe i'm harsh but she was making my life here pretty miserable. Spending 8 hours a day with someone who is greedy, nasty and fake doesn't make for a happy household. Since she has gone the girls and i have been so much happier. Obert, the garden Meri carries them around the garden, plays with them and looks after them. They love her now, where as before they was scared of her and she was scared of the house Meri and things were pretty uncomfortable. I've been moping my own floors and doing my own washing for 3 weeks now, and i have to say it sure beats having someone here who i didn't really like.

So now we have to find a new lady. I'm a little apprehensive, and will not rush into it. Hopefully we will find the perfect person.
Here's the latest pic of the jungle pikininis.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I just had 'greased banana for lunch', it has fast become my favorite. Cooking bananas cooked in fresh coconut milk with onions, curry and a little stock. It sounds like a terrible combination but i love it. Might have over done it though and feel like i need to hibernate it off.

Sitting here full as a goog, wondering what i can talk to ya'll about. Compensation is on my mind so i'll tell you a little about that.

PNG is all about compensation. Suppose you have an affair with your neighbors husband. The neighbor will come knocking on your door seeking compensation. For shaggin around the price is a few hundred kina.

If you run over someone's dog, whether it is half starving and dying of rabies or not, the price is about fifty to a hundred kina. Suppose you hit a pig in your car and kill it, they will want compensation, anywhere upwards of $1000kina depending on the size of the pig/cow. Now suppose you kill another man, whether by accident of not the compensation is huge. $100,000 kina or there about. If you can't pay the compensation then the 'eye for an eye' law applies and will most likely find yourself or a family member dead.

Killing someone as revenge around here doesn't seem like a big deal. People just accept that's the way life is. It's hard to get your head around sometimes.......

It is very common practice to give you children away if someone in your family can give them a better life than you. But if you decide you want them back, you have to pay compensation to the family member for the money they have spent on food, clothing schooling etc.

A couple i met gave their baby to his sister shortly after birth, as he wasn't working and they couldn't afford to keep him. They now want to get him back but the brother wants $5000. Although this might seem a reasonable enough idea, there is no way they can raise that money in a hurry, so they are just slowly saving to get their now 4 year old baby back.

My friend across the road, had a fight with her husband on Sunday. He pushed her, she fell and cut her arm. Because he cut her arm and drew blood, she wants to kill him. Not in the same way that i say i want to kill my husband because he was late home, forgot the ice cream but didn't forget the beer kind of way either. She told me she is going to stab him. As soon as her arm mends she wants to fist fight him in a 'fair and square' (her words) fight! I tried telling her that killing the father of her 3 children was not a fantastic idea. Besides the fact she might go to jail, he is the bread winner, with a great job, providing for the family and sending the kids to a good school. She would not see the sense in my argument. All she could say was "You can't understand, it's what we do here, he drew blood and now I'm going to kill him" I couldn't change her mind, so i gave her $100 to catch a bus to her 'place' (home town) to cool off for a couple of weeks. She wanted to go but didn't have any money as he took her keycard off her after the fight.

This is probably how she got there...... local bus...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Tarzan has been hunting and gathering and most upset i haven't shared with the world.
We have been to Madang twice in the past few weeks, both times showing friends and family a bit of country side. Madang is a lovely seaside town. We stayed at a little resort called JAis Arben and it was great, ok the food was average, but the accommodation was great! I ordered catch of the day and got a massive calamari hood, un-scored, unsliced in a salty horrible unrecognizable sauce. *spew* I stuck to safe dished after that. ;) Food is not really something people do well in PNG, there is no real cuisine as such, Just food cooked in coconut milk with no fresh herbs and spices except some curry powder, stock and salt sometimes. It encourages me to do more cooking anyway so it's not all bad. When we don't have a takeaway food option....ever someone else cooking is a real treat, even if it is inedible rubber squid coated in a strange sauce.
Now where was i? oh yes. Tarzan, hunting. He wanted to go fishing but the fishing charter boat was busy taking people snorkelling. So Tarzan looked elsewhere. He found a local fisherman who had a banana boat. A tinny type boat with an outboard on the back.

Vincent goes out fishing most days to catch fish to sell to support his family. He uses hand lines and catches all his bait. To catch the first bait he uses hand lines with a plastic bag tied to the hook, or trawls with a small hook with a feather on it. Bait is usually a nice pan sized tuna or similar. Bait i say???? i'll just eat that thanks! Apparently not. So they then put this on a big hook, on the end of a hand line, and trawl. The first trip they got the biggest yellow fin Tuna i have ever seen......
I can't believe they caught it, let alone on a hand line?!

I thought it was a fluke, s when da came over they went out again with Vincent. This time they caught......

A freaking Marlin! My father spent years fishing at Bermagui trying to catch one and never did, now he comes to PNG and hooks one in a banana boat.

And on a HAND line?!

We didn't get to eat the fish, as it was Vincent's livelihood. But second time out, Tarzan asked Vincent if they could catch a few extra 'bait fish" for our esky. They filled it up!

So i cooked up my favorite..... Sesame seared tuna with a wasabi beurre blanc sauce served with a soba noodle salad. YUM!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bras, bras, bras!

So the call was put out for any unwanted secondhand bras and undies. The boobs around here are in serious need and they don't mind if they are second or even third hand. ;) A bra is a bra and better than none. Same goes for undies! I was blown away by the amount that were sent to mum and dad's. Mum and dad packed light and filled their suitcases with the underwear, Dad was a little concerned what he'd say if anyone looked through his bag, but fortunately it didn't some to that!
I sorted then into sizes with the help of my brother. He reckons he's an expert in cup size *rolleyes*. We packed them into bags and walked to the village next door. We set up on a big bag on the ground and the word went around that people in need could pop over. They started filing in, mostly too shy to come right over, but with a lot of encouragement we were soon surrounded by boobs of all shapes and sizes to fit all donations. ;-). After a quick assessment i guesstimated a size, there was lots of laughing a bit of trying on, swapping etc. and then they disappeared with their new goods!
The rule was one each, and no hoarding for your friends! There was certainly excitement in the air, people didn't stop saying thank-you, and kissing my leg, which was kind of weird........ but some strage way of showing gratitude here. Everyone was amazed that i had friends in Australia who would donate all this underwear to them and wanted me to pass on their thanks.... I'm not going to kiss your legs, but i will say thanks. :-p

So a massive thanks for all of you who collected, posted and delivered bra's to my mum and Dad's. Your donations made for some VERY happy Papua New Guineans. There is apparently more underwear waiting for me when i head home in three weeks, so i will bring that back and share the love in another village.

Bek- your kids undies were a massive winner. The boys didn't even mind having a pink pair!

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I have so much to blog about, but i kind of feel like there is so much i don't know where to start..... just like the washing, i guess it gets easier once you start right?? Might just start with how shitty i'm feeling.....

It's harvest season here, they are harvesting the sugarcane to crush and the mosquitos that used to reside in the cane are now mobile and infecting victims faster than you can say "i've got Malaria"

Tarzan was first to drop, he started just feeling a bit off with a headache so he went down for a test. Positive, but i flew to Aus the next morning and let him ride it out on his own. He seemed to do ok. Then Lu was next. She presented with a fever, vomiting and crankiness, too her down for a test and it too was positive. She got over her very quickly, but managed to perforate her eardrum while we were on w weekend away at the beach. She was swimming and got hit in the side of the head by a big wave. That night she started screaming and wouldn't stop. I took her into the local hospital only to be told "Sorry we don't have an oroscope(thing to look in ears) , give her panadol and come back tomorrow, one of the other doctors may have one" ?! She was much better the next day, so we headed home and she was unhappy most of the trip saying her ear hurt, so we took her to the clinic here and discovered she had a perforated ear drum and an infection in the other ear. So a round of AB's and she's on the mend.

Tarzan came in one morning to tell me she had vomited again. I went in and she was fine. I then went in to LMS's room and discovered she was the cause of the smell. So we took her down for a test and sure as eggs she was +ve for Malaria. She couldn't keep anything down, not even breast milk, so she was given a course of injections and then admitted to the clinic for some IV fluids. She was limp and quiet. Very odd and disconcerting to see her like that. I was thankful that the clinic was there, but far out, you should see the state of it. For a tourniquet they used the end of a rubber glove. I asked them if that was their only tourniquet and they cheerfully replied "no, we have this one" While holding up a strip of tyre tube rubber?! At least all the needles and IV equipment was in fresh new packets and handled well, in a sterile way. They staff are great, but wow, talk about under funded, under equipped, under everything! When i first went to the drs for one of the kids the Dr didn't have a stethascope?! Her's broke and it was a lot of money to get a new one. So my rockin' mum bought one in Aus and gave it to her when she came over. They have an ultrasound machine, but no transducers, yanno, the bit that goes on your body and makes the pictures work? Kind of like having a car with no wheels. It was donated by rotary like that?! Not that i'm dissing rotary, but sheesh, surely you'd look a little more into what you were donating, rather than giving a useless box to someone? Super mum is looking into that too and hopefully can get her hands on some transducers for it.

Anyway, i digress, LMS is just finishing her last tablet tomorrow and has finally stopped vomiting. She had her first solid food after 5 days and is looking much better. Just when i though i might get a nights sleep i woke at 3 am feeling a little off. By morning my body felt heavy and i was weak. I thought i should go and have a test. By the time i got to the clinic my body was aching, my wrist felt badly sprained, my back was aching like i had done a disc, and i had a general feeling that all my bones might explode. Since testing positive and having an injection, i have been in bed, mainly feeling sorry for myself.

I started this post a few hours ago and it has taken 4 shots, between needing to feint and lie down or just spew it hasn't been my brightest day. Although i must be getting better because i'm getting bored of lying dawn, although that is the only position everything doesn't hurt.

Given all that, Malaria isn't as scary as i thought it would be, yes it can be fatal, but so can influenza. Most deaths are because people are not treated adequately or soon enough. Sure there are some exceptions, but they are just that, exceptions. Having Malaria around here is no big deal, infact i feel like a whinger just talking about it on my blog. Most of the Nationals get it a few times a year, take the meds, suck it up and go to work. Occasionally they have a sick day but not often. The Dr did tell me it tends to hit white people harder as our immune systems are weaker than people who grew up here. Maybe she was just trying to make me feel better.....

I can't get my brain to work well to incorporate some pics into text, so they are all just here.... this is the clinic. 3 beds available. hope you don't mind sharing. ;) (the last pic is of the tourniquet they used to put a cannula in LMS)

I'm going to lie down.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


This was in the national news paper here. Unrelated to any article, just a stand alone photo?!

Check out what i got.....

Just because i am living in the jungle doesn't mean i can't shop! there is always a way. I ordered this, with matching ear rings and i love, love, love it.

I met this lovely lady when we were both pregnant with our first babies. In my spare time i like to sleep, sometimes cook, but mainly sleep..... in her spare time she creates masterpieces. Check out her cool blog here

I though i was pretty clever when i threaded a few beads on some string and attached a clasp, but this is a whole new level of beading! Her stuff is really impressive and worth a look.

I ordered this, with matching ear rings and i love it.

It looks great in the picture, but is even more stunning IRL. Thanks so much B.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Disturbing post, contains swearing. Don't read if you'll be offended!

You know those nights when you just can't sleep. The last time it happened to me i was 9 months pregnant and i think my body was trying to prepare me for a lot of months of little sleep. ;-) But tonight i ain't up the duff and my kids are sleeping through the night. I am lying in bed thinking of the fuckedness of living in this developing nation. (is that even a word, it somehow seems more acceptable if the word isn't correct?! whatever, i'm frustrated at life here.)
The compensation system here is pretty harsh. A 17year old girl, studying at bording school, year 11. Got mixed up with a boy who apparently already had a girlfriend. She phoned her mother and asked her for $150. She had to give this to the boys girlfriend as compensation for fooling with her man. Her mum said no, don't be ridiculous. 2 days later she was found hanging in her room. Whether she took her own life or not is in question, but regardless of that, it is fucked. Either she was murdered or took her own life for fear of the repercussions of not paying her compensation. And not to mention how her mother must be feeling.
A young man with 3 kids died of bowel cancer on the weekend. If you live out here and get cancer you basically die. Unless you have money there is no medical imaging, there is no radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, there is nothing. Pretty much a panadol, some antibiotics and a teaspoon of harden the f up. How is that fair?
A six year old disabled boy lives with his mother, grandmother, baby brother and Aunt nearby in a one room shack. He can't walk, talk, feed himself, he is incontinent and they have no support, no money no nothing. They take it in turns to care for him, carrying him around and tending to his needs. The grandmother is the bread winner, but she is old and isn't all that well. They seem happy enough, but how tough does life have to be? They think they are lucky to live in a little house with one powerpoint!? And what will become of them when she is dismissed for reaching the ripe old retirement age of 55? (pretty sure she's well past that but most people round here have no idea when their birthday is so they make it up)

It's great that the simple things here make people happy it really is, because if they didn't find joy in the simple things they really would have nothing. I used to wonder how people living in such conditions can believe in god, why on earth would they prey and worship someone/thing and give thanks for what they have?! It infuriates me that they donate so much money to their church when they have none. But i now i realise that everyone needs a little hope, and if going to church and donating money gives them a little light then good on them. Not to say i'll be going in the near future, but i can understand why people here chose to go.

I don't want to become desensitised to life here. So many expats are. I don't want to be like that. Already my perceptions have changed a little, i've had to wise up a little. Generally i try and see the best in everybody, but in a country where there is nothing, petty crime is rife you need to be cautious. If i give too much to my house staff their friends and family get jealous and fights begin. If i give something to someone else my house staff get jealous and say i should be giving it to them. (not to my face, but gossips travels fast here. ;-) ) In a world where there is nothing, something as small as a biro is a prized posession, so i can hardly blame them for they fights, but i don't want to cause them....

Anyway, i can't sleep, so thought i'd have a bit of blogging therapy. Might give the sleep thing another shot. Night. x

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fallen off the blogging band wagon a bit of late, so thought i'd better pull my finger out and tell a story. LMS has been a bit sick with a virus and not sleeping so well, so i've got a bit slack..

Last Sunday we went for a hike. It was a 5 hour return trip, mainly uphill, in the searing heat. We needed to leave at about 11am in order to get to our destination and back in time before dark which meant walking in the middle of the day. Oh man, i though i was going to die. It was HOT, HOT, HOT and very humid. Tramping up hill for 2.5 hours sure got the sweat pouring off me. We were hiking to the base of Shaggy Ridge a razorback ridge in the Finisterre mountain range, the main position of defense for the Japanese during WWII. The track we followed was the original road from the war used to access the base of the Ridge. During many parts of the hike you could recognise where the road went, but others were just thick scrub and a single file track.

A few precarious river crossings....
Kooni grass out of control....
After two hours of steady climbing we came to a 'road house' Man was i happy to see it. A small spring gushing, crisp, clear, fresh water, and a couple of rocks to rest my sorry arse and adrenalin filled legs on. When there is a good clean water source, you generally find a little set up like this one...

A few bananas...

Banana and paw paw trees a plenty, although i'd never take a banana from the middle of the bush in PNG, it more than likely belongs to someone. Peoples' gardens are all over the place, mostly hidden about an hour or two walk from their homes. We had lunch and refueled. One of the guys hiking with us is staying the guest house where we live. The guest house provides 3 meals a day. As Cameron wasn't going to be there for lunch he asked them to make him a sandwich. The kitchen staff told him they didn't have much, he replied "peanut butter or vegemite will do" Not really to his surprise but to our amusement he had 2 sandwiches, both with peanut butter AND vegemite. Yummo.

I thought i was done with the hike, but after a rest i was rearing to go. The goal was to get to the base of shaggy ridge and check it out for the future hike when we overnight and climb the actual ridge.

We arrived at the small village at the base of the ridge and were met by a few friendly locals. The village was lovely, clean and tidy with some nice little houses. They had a beautiful new house that had been recently built, it was the biggest house i've seen here in a village, 4 bedrooms and up on stilts. No one was living it it, and from what i could gather this was because when you build a new house here you have to have a big feast and a 'sing-sing' before moving in. Either that or it was purpose built for the hikers that camp there before climbing shaggy ridge.

Esta took us down to the Faria river for a look, where we had another rest and shared a bag of lollypops with the kids who were enjoying a swim and helping out with some washing.

The kids from here walk about 4 hours on a Monday up the river to their school, they camp the week there and walk back on Friday. There is also a small hospital apparently. I'd like to check it out sometime, but leaving the kids overnight is a bit hard. Maybe when the olds visit?! :-p

Esta was keen for us to return and stay the night. She said we could bring the kids. yeah right. She might walk 7 hours to get to the market with 30kg's of food on her head, and her kids on her back, but i am soft and aint carrying my two ratbags 2.5hrs up a mountain!!!

This is a picture of the first part of Shaggy Ridge, as i am no photographer i wasn't really able to capture the incline very well, but let me tell you it is steep, it looks like you'd fall off while hiking up it if you didn't have spikes on. ;)

The hiking crew.....

And the best part of a hard day hiking? Beer of course.......

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The garden

Thought i'd share a few pics of the garden today. We have some amazing flowers as well as a small market garden. Having a few problems keeping the kids out of the seedlings, but we'll get there.
We're currently growing Sweet potato, taro, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, watermelon, bananas, spring onion, pawpaw, basil, coriander, lemongrass, parsley, capsicum and pumpkin i think?!

The garden monster...