Step one: arrival

After a gruelling 29 hour journey we arrived in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea. There, we received the first of many warm welcomes to come. Nellie greeted us at the arrival hall, showed us where to get a sim card and brought us to Mapang, our guesthouse. Our flight out from Port Moresby had been moved to the next week because of a full flight. As a result, we spent the next three days in Port Moresby. The first day we spent reeling from the Jetlag. I had always thought that Jetlag was something I would not have trouble with. A journey to Canada a few years earlier had not given me any problems, and I thought the constant changing of rhythm during nightshifts would make the trip a breeze. As it turns out, I was wrong. Lina and I put our bags down into storage while we waited for our room to be prepared. As our eyes fell on a couch in the living room the weight of the travel, and the time difference, came crashing down. I fell asleep with my E-reader propped up in front of me while Lina lay next to me with a cup of tea left untouched on the floor. Two hours later we awoke as the staff cautiously tried to inform us our room was ready. We moved everything into the room and spent the rest of the day fighting to stay awake. If there is one thing nightshifts have taught me, it is that sleeping past noon is a terrible idea if you want to switch back. That night we were both still destroyed and fell asleep the moment our heads hit the pillows. The rest of the night was spent waking up every two hours to go to for a wee. I honestly don’t know why either. At three in the morning we were both wide awake and spent the rest of the night reading. This would repeat itself the next few days as our bodies got used to the eight-hour difference.

The guesthouse was currently being run by Mike and Kathy. An Australian couple that have been living on and off in PNG for the past 48 years. They took us out for a tour around Moresby to buy some supplies. Driving around the city we were struck by the reality of the place. Moresby reminded me more of smaller cities in Tanzania than of a capital city. The roads were relatively quiet and few people walked the streets. Most of the buildings were small, cheaply built, and sparse. Mike pulled into the parking lot for the mall which stood in contrast to its surroundings. A large modern complex stood before us, and inside we were met by the chill of air conditioning.
With our supplies in hand, we headed off for a quick lunch at an Indian restaurant and were promptly delivered back to our accommodation.
That evening we were invited to the Boroko Baptist Church by Nellie for their yearly international party. The evening turned out to be great fun, with a diverse group of people bringing in their home country’s delicacies. Kenya, Indonesia, USA, Australia, Uganda, Malaysia, and PNG were all represented. With a plate full of rendang, sago, plantain, Pavlova and other goodies, we were swept up by the warmth of the people around us. The night was spent watching traditional dances and songs (a video can be found on our instagram). By the end we had become acquainted with different styles of local food, dance, and song. We felt well prepared to head off into the bush.

What we learned:

  1. Jetlag is real. Sadly enough, it seems pulling through the day as you would after a nightshift isn’t enough. Though it does help.
  2. It is good to know someone in Port Moresby to show you around. We heard from most of the people we spoke to that the city does live up to its reputation. Not that we noticed anything while we were there.
  3. Vegemite is pretty delicious. (Lina already knew this after her years in NZ, but I guess I am a late bloomer) The trick is to eat it with butter, and spread it out so thin you can hardly see it on the bread.

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