Volcano land, week 2

Written By miftah nugraha on Senin, 12 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

Andrew was greeted by dancing villagers dressed in palm fronds when he arrived at Karapi in Papua New Guinea.

LIFE abounds five degrees below the equator. As week two of Volcano Land draws to an itching conclusion, I can report that the grid dimensions of the mesh inner of my tent are greater than the girth of the average-sized sand fly and the occasional flying ant.

Casual observers would think I've contracted adult measles, but that's the trade-off for the flying fish, saucepan sized butterfly and edible nuts that just fall willy nilly out of trees.

The folding sea kayak has transported me nearly 200km along the coast from Walindi to the foot of Mt Ulawun, a 2334m giant volcano.

Along the way, at Karapi village, I pulled in at the black sand beach to be mobbed by about 100 people. It was a local holiday to mark the death of a former provincial governor.

Dorothy Herman, a widowed teacher, put her hand up to house me for the night. As fast as the dry bags were pulled from beneath the skin of the kayak they were whisked away by eager hands. I was left with nothing to carry but the paddle.

Manuel Mauda led me away to the men's washing area of the creek and then on an extended tour of the village. It sprawls along the rough highway that continues to the Bialla oil palm plantations and beyond.

Manuel's great uncle came down from his pole frame house and explained that he'd been to Brisbane on joint training with the Australian Defence Force. As a PNG Defence Force member he'd been a soldier during the transition to independence in 1975. He receives about 60 Kina ($28) a month as a pension.

Young men dressed in palm fronds like the storybook Grug, come charging out of nowhere with whippy sticks to chase the young children from the galip trees, which are now bearing the tasty galip nut. It's a traditional game that part-delights and part-terrifies the children.

The next morning I depart with a ripening paw paw in the front hold and two drinking coconuts tied to the back. Just in time - the afternoon storm is rumbling in from the mountains to cool the itches.

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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