Well easter was going to be a surf trip north of Madang, but we gave Rita and her husband a lift up to Madang on Friday and as a result couldn't fit our gear in the land cruiser. Rita and her husband were going to visit their 14 year old son in jail in Madang. He has been in jail for 3 months awaiting trial. A heartbreaking story that Rita allowed me to share on my blog. Her son and his friend were wagging school and playing down by the market. A drunk man (20-ish) came by and started picking on the two boys. They got into a scuffle and trying to push the man away her son's friend stabbed the drunk man with a small knife. He died as a result of the wound. The two boys were arrested and are now waiting in a prison in Madang. In PNG, there is a fairly serious 'eye for and eye' system in place. The families were asked to pay $100,00 kina as reimbursement for the boys death. There is no way that would be possible. If you can't pay the requested amount then it is usual that one of your family members will be murdered. As the boys were arrested the police went and spoke to the victims family, telling them things were now in the hands of the police and they were forbidden to carry out any revenge attacks.
If we didn't drive them, the other option was for to catch a PMV(private motor vehicle- small coaster type bus), which would be $50 kina each return, about as comfortable as Fred Flinstone's floor-less car, with a high probability of having to get out and push it when it got stuck on the less then fantastic road to Madang. They have engaged a lawyer which will cost them every cent they have and some they don't, (anyone interested in buying the bags Rita makes, i have pics on face book. )
So we packed them in with us and dropped them in Madang with their few belonging and a chocolate cake tucked under their arm. (your prize winning recipe Karen. Thanks. :D)
The trip there was not as bad as expected. 120kms, 3.5hrs. The road crosses the finistares ranges, winding up and down, with many river crossings. The road is pretty badly damaged from too much rain, too many trucks and no upkeep. In many places there is little more than mud holding the road together. The road is the only one joining Madang to the country south of it.
A comforting sign to pass............
This is a 'good' section of road, but the bridge got washed away, it is currently being repaired but for now the river has been diverted the road detours through the river bed.
There is about 25kms that looks mostly like this. Washed out, big potholes, i have no idea how the little buses even make it through.
This is two PMV's meeting on a hill. Luckily it was still dry at this stage. The bigger PMV started spinning it's wheels a little further up and had to reverse down and give it another crack. Don't ask me how they guy on the roof managed to hold on for the 3 hours journey?!
This was taken after only about 5 minutes of rain, you can imagine how bad it is after a big rain. Some weeks it is impassable, other times it takes 5+ hours. It used to take an hour and 45 minutes!
We approached one very precarious section of road that had slid away. The local villagers had fixed the road with stones and mud, once again making it passable. They created a blockade to stop the vehicles and ask for a fee to reimburse them for fixing the road. I was a little terrified initially, we came around a bend and were confronted with about 50 men wielding serious faces, a few stones and a couple of shovels. We were told they wanted reimbursement of $20kina per vehicle. We handed over the cash and were waved on. I was quite happy to pay them for their trouble, if it wasn't for them there certainly wouldn't be anyway of passing through that section of road.
There is a Nickel mine half way along and the company have recently put in a huge pipe line from the mine to the ocean where they are going to dump millions of liters of their waste in the ocean?! Not only have they seriously contributed to the degradation of the road, the story goes that they made some dodgy deal with the government that did not include them fixing the road up. Apparently the pipe has been stopped, for now. But i'm sure it wont be long before the big company pays the government enough to finish the pipe and the pollution of the lovely seaside town of Medang begins. Read more about it here.
We stayed at the Madang Resort , which was lovely. The balcony of the room hung out over the ocean. It was nice to be by the sea again.
We look pretty happy about it..... wouldn't you say???
It is the first place i have ever stayed where they had sleeping instructions.............
Lucky they told us. Who knows where we might have slept.
The resort has a little market selling local crafts. LL took her change purse and bought a necklace, the lady took a liking to her and gave her another necklace as a gift. So LL gave her a little easter egg. Each lady selling things then came and gave LL or LMS a free necklace or anklet hoping for an easter egg!!! Fortunately we had enough for one each. ;)
We took a trip up the coast on Saturday to a small village with a great little snorkeling spot. The villagers ask for $10 kina / per vehicle to help them maintain the area. It is a great little sheltered cove with a natural rock wall providing a sheltered area for swimming and snorkeling. Lots of fish, friendly folk, warm tropical water meant a great day was had by all.
You never know where you're going to find spiderman.
The only problem with this place was dragging LL out of the water when it was time to go home......