Sunday, December 12, 2010

Release Date 11/15/2010

I went out for an afternoon paddle. It was slightly overcast, so very comfortable, but the sea was surprisingly rough. It was a combination of 3ft plus swells with a lot of wind, and wind waves that made things very confusing.

I planned to go fishing, but abandoned that because it would have been too difficult to deal with a fish if I hooked one in the rough weather.

I just went out for 2 hours down the coast and back again. I paddled at a good clip and got a decent workout. At one point I was feel proud of myself for braving the surf and the rough sea when I noticed there was a guy out fishing in his outrigger canoe. His only safety gear was half a coconut shell for a bailer. I can’t imagine how they get the canoes with no bulkheads out through the surf. He said the he “slip here” and pointed to the shore. He wasn’t afraid to go fishing, in fact that is what he came for. Note his feet hanging over the side, his only concession to the rough sea.

I saw, or actually just saw the last bit of the most amazing thing. I looked over my shoulder and saw a big 3ft long fish flying through the air going straight back into water from over 5ft high. It must have jumped all the way up in the air, like 10ft and turned over and I saw it on the way down. I have never seen any fish jump anywhere near that high, and wish I had been closer, and also seen it from the start.

On the weekend Kate and I watched a huge pod of dolphins swim by our porch. They were little ones, and jet black stretching out for 100s of yards. We estimated there were over 100 of them. Also saw a bunch of frigate birds 25 or so flying around in giant circles gliding on the thermals.

Last Friday was a very interesting day, very much a day in the life of in PNG. We both had difficult mornings at work struggling with bad infrastructure and difficult people and situations.

Some guys came into Kate’s office with two tags they had taken off a sea turtle. A large turtle had climbed up on the shore to lay eggs in the middle of the night. It basically came right up to their shelter, dug a hole and started laying. The guys stopped it, ate the eggs, and were presumably planning on eating the turtle when they saw the tags. They brought the tags to Kate’s office, it took almost a week for them to get a ride and make it up to our town.

Kate has worked on sea turtle projects before, so she arranged a field trip out to see where it was caught, and if it was still alive. It turns out they hadn't killed it; they just flipped it over and left it on its back. Turtles aren’t limber enough to turn themselves over, and people don’t have fridges, so this is a good way to keep your food ready. They held off eating it because the tags might mean it was a special turtle or something. It sat there for 6 DAYS in the sun with dogs nipping at its flippers dying a slow death.

When we got there it was still alive, so Kate took all the necessary data points, and the local guys helpped her put the tags back on and they let it go. The tags were from Australia which is on the order of 1,000 miles away, so it made a very long journey!

This area of the coast was very beautiful. It is much calmer because it isn’t exposed to the surf like our side is. I think I could paddle all the way down here in a day, and get a ride back, so I’m thinking about doing that someday.
We also saw a really cool archeology something, but it is secret now, so I can’t post any info on it.

Kate later found out that they aren't sure where the turtle was tagged.

Apparently some researches had taken these tags out for a research trip, but they never returned. They were out off the coast of Australia on the Great Barrier Reef, and they never returned. Their organization assumed they had capsized and were killed.

When we got back to town we went to “the club” associated with the golf course for a light supper. We feel so fancy now that we belong to a golf club and have dining privileges!

We started talking to an older ex-pat who had lived in the country for over 30 years. He was telling us various stories and getting loaded. Then he started yelling at the security guards working at the club because they were coming in, buying beer, and reselling it through the gate. It is not possible to buy beer after 5:00PM here in the store.

He made a stink because it was a violation of club rules, then when they did it again he grabbed a young guy and started throwing him around. One thing led to another, including the ex-pat’s kids getting scarred and starting to cry, it took 10 people to keep them apart.

The white guy left, we waited a while then we left too, but in the meantime somebody put bottles and nails under our tire so we got a flat before we got home. Presumably they thought we were in league with the other guy.

This is the 2nd time since we have been here we have befriended someone in a bar, then they get drunk, and make and ugly scene and we are branded the “friend of that a-hole xyz”
While Kate and I were changing the tire 3 local guys in their church clothes showed up and helped us change the tire so the night ended on a nice note.

Truth: Reorganization Cleans things up