The ride in Papua New Guinea
As always, it is waiting again. This time not on a non-working ATM, not even on our forgotten lunch but on our driver. At half past 9 we have arranged for the guesthouse, now it is half past 10 and no trace of Crazy Steve. The name should have warned us already, but hey, we do like a bit of craziness. Waiting, we like that less. And certainly since it is already the third day in a row that we have to wait at least one hour. But this is Papua New Guinea, not the Netherlands.
At half past 11 Crazy Steve arrives. “Problems with the car” is his excuse. He also had it yesterday. But today it is Sunday and nobody works. Yet he managed to find someone who even wanted to make his car for us on Sunday. Why did he not do that yesterday? Then he was too busy. Of course…
Drink & Drive in Papua New Guinea
Two hours later than planned, we drive with Crazy Steve and Jack the guide towards Kesesugl. We shave over the road. Share at least. Other parts we drive in a hurry and bumping over the many holes and holes in the road. Along the way we see stalls that function as petrol pumps, pigs that are being spawned and many green yellow SP (beer) houses where drink & drive is not recommended but applauded. In Hela, where we were previously, alcohol is forbidden. Alcohol can not be drunk or sold throughout the province. This prohibition seems to compensate them in Hagen and Jewaka by selling alcohol every 200 meters.
Until you spit blood red
What we also regularly encounter are women who sell betelnut. Crazy Steve is crazy about it and therefore regularly stops to buy some. Betelnut, a stick they call mustard and lime. First you bite the betelnut well. “Do not swallow” Crazy Steve strictly adheres to us. When you have chewed well, stick the stick into the lime and mix it with the betelnut in your mouth. You do that a few times and then you spit out the juice. The color turns bright red and this makes your lips and teeth very red. Throughout Papua you can see red spit, of which we first thought it was blood, lying on the ground. Crazy Steve spits out a lot and because I’m behind him, my clothes regularly catch some fine splashes.
No pigs without pigs
What we also see passing by on the side of the road are pigs. Sometimes they sniff around, sometimes they are under a sales stall and sometimes they are even let out. Pigs play a special role in PNG (Papua New Guinea). They are not only feed here but also determine the wealth of the owner. A large, fat pig can thus yield 4,000 kina (1,060 €). So if you have 4 pigs in PNG, then you are rich man. Man yes, because women can not possess anything. After all, they are themselves a possession. So you can already buy a woman for 2 pigs.
The amount of pigs indicates how rich you are, the amount of women you have too. For example, if you have 8 women (which regularly occurs here) then you also have 8 houses, a lot of children and of course you also paid 8 dowries. Land, pigs and women. The most fought is about the first. Now still, hence the police escort we got in Tari. But more about that later.
Men also sleep in a sort of men’s cabin. The men (often family members, sometimes the people you work for) come here to eat, sleep and tell strong stories. When they need to sleep with their wife (s) or see their children, they pass by. The woman is expected to educate the children, to earn money on the market and to grow the land. They find a fair distribution here. I see that differently.
No more diesel
In the last village before we start on the road upwards still has to be refueled. The first petrol pump seems to be closed “no gasoline, no diesel”. Out of order. The second petrol pump does not have diesel anymore. Three times is good and happy, at the third petrol station they have some diesel. We get the last bit of diesel and go on the road.
Diesel is also quite expensive here. For 1 liter you pay 3.80 kina (1 €). Very pricey for the people here. Incidentally, you can also buy diesel on the side of the road in old jerry cans. For a 4-liter bottle you pay approx. 20 kina (1.30 € per liter). Then you need a lot of bottles to fill your car and they often have no more than 4.
We are on our way and soon we hear loud crackling under the wheels. We have already experienced this a few times before. We drive over almost flat cans of soft drinks. People throw these on the road to make them drive flat by cars. Then they bring it to recycling and receive money for it. A convenient and easy way to earn some money. You can not bring a country, pig or woman with it