Saturday, January 07, 2006

Coffee Capital of the Nation

After an unplanned stopover in Port Moresby (staying in the beautiful Gateway hotel, courtesy of Air Niugini), listening to several tourists complaining loudly about the cancelled flights, meeting Robyn, a volunteer with AVI in Goroka (lots of good advice!) and finally a short, beautiful plane flight, we made it. Remarkably easy to get somewhere so remote! A 3 hour plane flight really didn't feel long enough to be in another country...

First impressions of PNG are that the people are really nice, much quieter and more reserved than many other places we've travelled. In markets etc there is no hassling at all. Only the occasional person trying to sell something on the street. Our accomodation is great. It's in a CRMF 'compound' - in a large split house. All the people we work with (mostly Nationals, some expats) are great.

As for the work we're doing, I've got a few small electronics/wiring type tasks to work on (putting indicator lights / buzzers here and there for this and that) as well as a larger project which involves shifting one of the HF radios from Goroka, out of town to Asaro where there will be better reception and less interference. The control of the radio will remain in Goroka, via a dedicated 2.4GHz microwave link. We were to attend a remote radio installation on Friday, but apparently safety is a concern in that area so we are staying away.

Di has been helping out in the CRMF office so far - she's loving hanging out with the other ladies. Next week she's looking at visiting AT Projects and following up some other leads for volunteer work. Again - a month is not enough!!

Security is always a real issue here. All the houses are surrounded by high security fences, barred windows, burglar alarms, dogs etc. Walking around at night is a definite no-no. And the Eastern Highlands Province where we are is one of the safest areas in PNG. I hope things get better in time!

We caught up with some volunteers with NGOs at the 'Bird' (Bird of Paradise hotel) last night. Great to hear what some other people are doing. Some work with the 'Agricultural Institute' developing farming techniques, others with the 'Melanesian Institute' training PNG nationals to produce books.

That's about enough for now! Here's some photos...

Our house for the month:

CRMF, where I'm working:

Results of our first expedition to the market. All this stuff is CHEAP! Probably less than $10 worth in this photo!

Di and Doris (Dee and Do). Di's learning how to make bilums. A month is probably not long enough...
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