K.A. BEATTIE HORTICULTURAL CONSULTANTS
|Posted on March 19, 2017 at 11:35 PM|
This amazing island paradise, once connected to Terra Australis by a land bridge, is rife with contrasts. Papua New Guinea or PNG is the eastern portion of the island of new Guinea with the western region simply known as Western Papua is part of Indonesia. Millions of years ago, when the seas and oceans were more shallow, a natural connection between this island and Northern Australia existed at the Torres Strait. Indigenous peoples migrated southward perhaps blending traditions, customs and the gene pool with existing Aborigine peoples, or maybe these were the first inhabitants. As ancient as time itself, PNG is still relatively untouched, at least in the outer villages and in the highlands.
One of our excursions transported us, as if time, to an actual village as well as to a cultural village designed for tourists or “dim dim” as we are referred to. The functional village was beyond fascinating! We were greeted by the local dignitary who explained what we were about to experience in his village. The large, grassy field where we arrived was lined with a great many villages, young and old, all out to see the herd of dim dim. I think that we were as much a spectacle of amusement as anything with our cell phones, cameras, pale skin and profuse “glow” of perspiration.
The sound of a conch shell announced the beginning of a very curious spectacle. Several warriors emerged dressed in leaves, grass skirts, feathers and bone amulets all hanging on to a large woven net. Suddenly, a creature emerged from a pile of leaves to much shouting and squealing. This character was festooned with adornments and was representative of a wild boar, the hunters catch of the day. The males of PNG do the hunting and fishing and the women do everything else, at least traditionally. The boar round up finished with the poor beast ceremonially speared and the rest is left to your imagination.
Scattered throughout his large open area were dancers and tribes-people from surrounding islands and visiting villages. Each performed traditional dances and made their own music which completed this spectacular “cultural fair”. The village women had prepared a snack of local fruit all beautifully displayed under the shade of an enormous Polynesian chestnut tree, truly a beautiful setting. Young boys demonstrated their prowess of paddling their canoes to the barked instructions of a male village elder. I just couldn’t get enough, alas the buses needed to be loaded and the experience was about to end. What a send off, the entire dance troupes and many villages walked and danced the entire entourage of “dim dim” to the waiting buses.
As experienced travellers we don’t expect things to be the least like it is at home, afterall this is why we travel, is it not? PNG offers somewhat rudimentary facilities, if any at all, in the outer villages. My wife described one delightful latrine boasting tiles, colourful surroundings and a wash basin with soap outside. Don’t expect any of the luxuries of home when travelling on excursions outside of Port Moresby. Take caution of course if you are tramping through the jungles as I did, insect repellant should be worn and very sturdy footware. Higher elevations will often have rain, even in the drier season, so mud is the norm. My excursion returned back to the MS Sirena looking like we had mud wrestled and lost. Jokingly we did muse at the protocols of boarding the ship looking like little piggies. All in all an adventure not to be missed and certainly not for the faint of heart as the roads into the mountains rival that of the Amalfi coast only with many potholes, bumps and a varied assortment of road conditions. Port Moresby was our port for the jungle trek and the previous day from Alotau, where we travelled to the local village.
Plan to visit in the near future as recently discovered oil and gas reserves are bound to influence the economic and social fabric of this beautiful land; a land of many smiles.