Volcano Land blog, week 3

Written By miftah nugraha on Senin, 19 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

Andrew is frequently greeted by delighted smiles and hands reaching out to say hello as he paddles around PNG. Picture: ANDREW HUGHES

BETWEEN the dogs, pigs, chickens and children there's never a quiet moment in a New Britain village.

Here at Takis, on the northwestern corner of Papua New Guinea's Gazelle Peninsula, I have just explained what the Volcano Land project is about, and can only imagine how extraordinary and ridiculous it must sound.

The people here, unlike much of modern coastal PNG, are not covered by the mobile phone network, do not have a road to Rabaul and earn -- a very little -- cash exclusively from copra and cocoa.

The rhythm of life is governed by the garden, the fishing grounds, the family and the church. Here it is a Catholic domain.

Raphael, who waded out to greet me on arrival, buried his mother this morning. Two weeks ago it was his brother -- murdered most foully by a bush knife -- for whom they mourned.

Despite this turmoil, Raphael made me welcome because he had the best English, and my grasp of tok pisin is still very poor.

After a wash and a lengthy discussion over nautical charts I've retreated to write the daily report for dispatch by satellite phone.

Village noises swirl about in snatches of probably three or four languages. Some of the commotion is undoubtedly due to the strange fellow with zinc cream on his lip, who says his task is to teach students about distant places.

But the dogs brawling, the mothers yelling instructions to kids, and the happy laughter from young and old alike, I think that's fairly normal.

Expedition Class is a program of the Bookend Trust. This project is supported by the Tasmanian Department of Education, Pennicott Foundation, UTAS SET, Mercury NIE, IMAS, Sea to Summit and friends. Follow Andrew's daily reports at www.expeditionclass.com


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