Friday, December 18, 2009

Release Date 12/6/2009

I released this message off of the South Coast of New Ireland about 120 miles south of Kavieng. Kate and I went down to a resort called Rubio Plantation for a few days. It was a nice break to get away, and a really pretty place.

We released the bottle while snorkeling and free diving. We were checking out the reef when we found a huge Danforth anchor, and we started a salvage operation. It was too big to lift, but the owners of the resort gave us a float to tie to it, and they were going to bring a boat and bunch of strong guys to do the lifting later on.

The resort is a cocoa plantation (that is the plant they get chocolate from NOT the plant they get cocaine from that is called coca!!). They include a fresh chocolate desert with every dinner, and you bring your own booze.

In addition to the free diving we went for a hike to a waterfall up in the hills.

You can’t just go hiking, you have to have a guide in PNG because there are no hiking trails, and almost every inch of land is privately owned. The guide is usually a member of the family that owns the land.

It is always a bit intimidating when you show up with your backpack, hiking shoes, water, sun protection, etc etc, and the local people aren’t even wearing shoes. It quickly becomes embarrassing when you can’t keep up with them, and the little 5 year old kids tagging along, are going faster than you are, and are not breaking a sweat.

We enjoyed getting into the forest. They took us to a swimming hole with a nice waterfall in the background. I very cautiously edged out on a log to jump in, but of course the locals just jogged across the log like it was a sidewalk to do their jumps.

We had to drive down to the resort. Nobody has a sign, so the directions were go 220 Km and look for 2 carved fence posts. We learned a number of things on this drive:
-The pavement stops at 180KM, so you have to go slower than usual.
-The odometer on Kate’s truck is off by almost 10%. We went way past the resort…
-If you give Papua New Guineans a ride, they will sometimes leave machetes (bush knives they call them) in your truck. We gave about 10 different groups rides, and got 2 new bush knives. Everybody out in the country from little kids to grown-ups walks around with a giant knife in their hand. I can’t imagine why they would leave them in our truck. We think maybe they were not thinking straight because white people never pick them up. We did feel bad about it since most of the people are very poor, and they were probably quite upset when they realized they lost their favorite tool.

We saw a number of guest houses and places to stay. I hope to someday take advantage of them and do a long kayak trip going from guest house to guest house.

I am just recently back from a work trip to NYC, so this was a great way to spend my first weekend back in the country. While I was away Kate went to an island where the people living there had moved away, and abandoned all their dogs. One of the dogs was a cute little puppy, so we now have a brand new doggie.

His name is “Mighty” because the clan who owned the island is called the “Mite” clan. He was full of ticks, fleas, skin problems, and worms. Fortunately there was a vet visiting one of the local resorts, and were able to get him checked out. He got a vaccination, some frontline flea treatment, and we are giving him de-worming pills. They don’t have special de-worming pills for dogs. You just go to the pharmacy, get the people pills, and break them in half.

We had talked about getting a puppy when we first got here, but we “decided” that we wouldn’t do that. As soon as we started feeding the neighbor’s dog, who we renamed “Stinky” we were afraid he would be too territorial. Stinky is a nice dog, but he is vicious whenever another dog comes around and he has some food. I once watched him almost choke to death while trying to eat a big T-bone and growl at the other dogs at the same time.

Stinky is not as dumb as he looked. Once Kate made it clear that Mighty was here to stay, Stinky became very friendly to him. They now cuddle-up to sleep, and Stinky even puts up with Mighty play biting him. See the video of Mighty attacking Stinky.

Stinky is also a pretty good watch dog, but he has a bad habit of attacking people on the street in front of the house, and only attacking about ¾ of people that come into the yard. A few weeks ago he went after somebody cutting through the yard. The guy jumped out of his flip flops and ran away. Stinky spent the rest of the night chewing up the flip-flops. If you just feed a dog regularly they quickly become bigger and stronger than all the other dogs.

Release date 12/13/2009

I went out for a paddle on Sunday. I didn’t get on the water until 13:45, but I got a good paddle in since I didn’t get back until 17:15. I still haven’t been paddling much and I’m not in shape for it.

It was fairly windy, which the wind coming from the West at about 15kts.

I went down to Usineen Island, then around Usineen Lik island, I got to Limonack Island and turned around.

There were people living on Usineen Island, but I think Usineen Lik might be uninhabited, it was very small, and I didn’t see anyone.

I did a bit of fishing on the way back, but didn’t catch anything.

The paddle back was a slog, the Wind which had been almost directly from the South when I started, shifted to the West a bit for the ride home. I was paddling the Meridian which does not have a skeg, so I had to fight for much of the return trip. After a few hours I was pretty tired and just wanted to be home.

There is supposed to be good Tuna fishing in Albatross pass further to the South, so I’m going to leave a bit earlier, and take a faster boat next time so I can make it all the way down there.

I did see a pretty big Turtle on the way home.

Truth: “Sometimes things don’t fit”

No bottle release…
I went with Kate to one of the villages she works in, a place called Kavalik on the Tsoi Islands about 30 miles West of Kavieng.

They were having a ceremony commemorating the “King Tide” event of one year ago. The King Tide was a period of exceptionally high tides accompanied by rough seas. It did a huge amount of damage here.

This village was especially hard hit because their houses are very close to the water and very low.

The ceremony was really interesting. They had different senior members of the community come up and describe a period of time during the 3 or 4 day event, what they saw, and what happened. Kate then gave a little talk as well.

After that there was some Christian singing by the choir, and then some traditional music and dancing. I’m going to try and put a video of it up.

We joked with the older guy with the Ray Charles haircut and sunglasses that the song must be about killing white people. He just smiled, but he didn’t say “NO”. It is clearly about killing or fighting. Notice the little kids. The ones on the left have toy axes, the ones on the right knives. The key elements of the dance step are stabbing and chopping motions. At the end of our visit they gave us the 2 big placards the guys are holding up. They were carved wood, and made just for this presentation.

I posted a picture of Kate starting her speech. You can’t tell, but she is trying to decide if she should have the village punish me. They really like her there, so I have to be on best behavior when we are there.

There is also a picture of me eating something naughty from the CITES banned list. “What I thought it was lamb, I didn’t know” Kate refused to eat it.

On the way back we caught some Tuna that we had for dinner, see the picture of me with the fishing line. I am hauling the fish aboard, look in the water for the fish. They are amazingly fast swimmers, and when they are feeding you will often see a 10lb fish launch itself and fly out of the water. I’m still trying to get one in my kayak, but I can’t paddle fast enough to get in the feeding frenzy before they move.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Release Date 11/5/2009

I quit work early to go for an afternoon paddle.

My plan was to try and see some of the stand-up paddle boarders surfing. There was a big group of them in town at Nusa Resort this week, but they must have gone down the coast somewhere because they weren’t at any of the 3 breaks around town.

I puttered around in the waves for a while, and then decided to paddle around Nusa and Nusa Lik as the sun was setting.

It was a picture perfect afternoon, the worst of the heat was over, and there was a slight following seas, so it made for a really nice paddle.

I went by the dive site called the “blow hole” I took a video that should say why. It must really be dramatic if there is any real surf here since the waves just pound into the rock here with no break from the reef. I will definitely have to come back, but not get too close!!

I also got to see the airplane landing. It always makes a very dramatic run right over the northern corner of the harbor. It is a great view out of the plane, and an even better one if you are sitting in the water watching it swoop down on you.

It was a really nice afternoon, especially as it started to get dark. The sky was so very very clear, with really interesting looking clouds and beautiful colors. I am including a couple of pictures that started to capture it. The pictures after the sun has just set show a bit of the colors.

One of the nice things about where we live is that the sun sets over the water, just like it does on the West Coast of Florida. From the harbor the sun sets over Nusa island, you have to go up and down t he coast or get out in a boat to see it set on the water. I couldn’t stay out long enough to see it set over the water because I hadn’t been into the harbor entrance from this angle, and I didn’t want to wander into a surf break in the dark, but I took the pictures back on the land side of the island.

There were some cool looking boats in the harbor on my way back in. They looked a lot like the pole and line tuna fishing research boat. They might have once been tuna boats, but have not been converted to ferrying cargo. Yes the name of the one in the picture really is “Elf Ride #2” It didn’t seem to have any Elves on it, maybe they were on shore leave hunting for WW II relics or something.

I’m writing this in the Brisbane Airport on my way back to the US for a few weeks of work, and no paddling. I had a really long layover in Port Moresby. I am a member of the “Executive Club” the Air Niuginni club for business travelers. Kate and I joined it because we were told that it would keep us from getting bumped. It also gives us an added baggage allowance. The little clubhouses are nice, there isn’t one Kavieng, but almost other airports seem to have them. Free food and booze while you are waiting, as well as comfy chairs and soap in the bathrooms, you can’t beat it.

It is a good idea to hit the sandwiches hard and early when they come out. Kate ate some in Kokopo a few weeks that had been sitting around for a while. Egg and Ham salad laying around in the tropics, I’m not that tough. I just had cookies. Today I was the first one in the club so I know they were fresh.

My flight landed in Port Moresby at 8:00AM, and I don’t leave for Brisbane until 4:30PM, so it’s a really long layover. I went right up and banged on the door of the club, but a grouchy lady told me to go away and come back later. It was classic PNG where she was pissed off telling me it was too early at 10:00AM, but then came out and found me in the lobby when it actually opened and sweetly invited me to come in, she had just made sandwiches. Then gave me a big smile and told me to have a nice flight. If people are pissed off here, they get over it quickly, or maybe they aren’t really pissed off, I just can’t figure it out sometimes.

The little shops in the airport were open, and I’m thinking this might actually be a good place to buy souvieneers. The baskets were really nice, and just a tad overpriced. The coffee was only K1.50 more than it is in the market in Kavieng. One place was actually selling beautiful tortoiseshell jewelry. That is totally wrong and illegal, but some of the pendants were beautiful. I was tempted, but I’m still feeling bad for the little bit of turtle meat some guy gave me last month. Fried in butter it was better than steak! Someone told us again that they saw a turtle for sale in the market on Friday. I have to make a point of going on Fridays. I am just going to buy them and release them.

PNG is one of the only places where we can be big spenders. I joined the “Kavieng Club” last week. We can now use the clubhouse facilities, including the golf course, and entertain our friends and family. We were advised that white people didn’t need to join anyway, and are always allowed in but we felt we ought to, especially since I have been playing golf there.

Kate took her staff to the club to celebrate the end of the field season, and one of the guys won a giant meat tray. This is an Australian thing, they have a drawing in the bar for a tray of meat. This being PNG they didn't actually have any meat on hand, and we had to come back. When we came back there was still no meat to be had, but we got some money and a voucher for the butcher. A family membership for the two of us for the rest of the year was 50 Kina, about $20. The Executive Club is 500 Kina, so I only have to drink $200 worth of beer and eat a bunch of sandwiches. They have wine too. No hard liquor, but they probably don’t have that in other airline clubs either. I think I have already saved $200 on overweight baggage, so its all gravy from now on.

I’m always impressed by people’s luggage. Today one guy checked a giant mellon or squash. I was waiting for my bag, and this big vegetable came buy on the belt with a tag that said “Fragile” looped around the stem. There were also a bunch of split opened cardboard boxes with different kinds of bananas. Kate told me in Vanuatu she saw a puppy taped into a box with just his head sticking out. That I would like to see.

I still haven’t found my pet pig. Kate tried to buy one for me for my birthday. She posted a sign down at the market with a drawing. I’m not sure where I was supposed to keep it. I’m sure we aren’t zoned for agricultural pets, and I don’t think stinky would like it if I let him run around the yard. I’d want to train him to be a watch pig.

Truth: Clouds can be beautiful

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Release Date 10/24/2009

Kate and I planned to go to Rawl island and have a campout on Saturday night. Rawl is about 3 or 4 NM from Kavieng. It is a cool little tiny island. I went there about a month when some guy took me fishing. Although it is small it has a huge tree with an Osprey nest on it.

Kate knows the people who’s family owns it, and we got permission to stay over. In Papua New Guinea somebody owns everything.

We left to paddle out there around 15:30. We did a bit of trolling and lollygagging around, and arrived about 17:00. We had to paddle around the island to find a spot with no surf, but there was a calm sheltered beach on the south side.

You can see from the picture that the island is probably only 20 or 30 yards in diameter.

There is a perfect little grassy tent site up over looking the beach.

I started to feel kind of bad after we landed. Kate knew I was sick when I turned down booze and a campfire after dinner. Those two things, and a midnight swim are some of my favorite campout activities.

I felt worse and worse as the night progressed, didn’t sleep well, and couldn’t eat anything in the morning, so we paddled back home. That wasn’t fun in the boiling hot sun, but by taking a few swims on the way we made it home.

I managed to fit 3 little kids on my kayak back near the dock. I think I could do 4 or 5 before the boat got really hard to keep upright. The problem is if I flipped I would bean them trying to roll up. The local kids are always very curious about kayak paddling, since they are used to their outrigger canoes.

Release Date 10/22/2009

I knocked off of work, and went for a paddle to celebrate my birthday on the water. I left about 15:00 and got back around 17:30.

If you look really close at the end of this video you can see the fish flying up out of the water like torpedos.

The weather was a bit overcast, but that was nice because it wasn’t so hot. Like everywhere the last part of the day can be the hottest here. I keep thinking I’m adjusted to it, but then I stand around outside for a bit, and start wilting and just want to sit in the shade and do nothing. I am actually starting to think that the only way to do any serious paddling is to get up at 2 or 3 in the morning and go when it is still dark for a most of the trip.

I paddled out past nago island into a pretty stiff wind 10 – 15kts, figuring I would have a nice easy ride home.

I explored a little deserted island, but couldn’t poke around it too much since it was getting late, and my plan for a wind assist on the way back was cancelled because the wind shifted to be from the west, and the became a lot weaker. I was also distracted by a huge school of fish.

I felt good to paddle hard and push myself a bit.

Truth: “Somewhere it’s your birthday”.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Release Date 10/2/2009

Release date 10/2/2009

I released this message off of Kavieng in New Ireland, PNG while kayaking.

I paddled out to try a bit of surfing at the break off of Nago. There were no board surfers here, but I was a bit nervous because the reef ends in a point off of the island, and at times the waves break in 2 directions 90 degrees apart.

I got one or 2 rides around the edges, and then caught one really big wave that rolled me a few times after I lost the control while side surfing. This actually got pretty intense because I kept getting pounded, and couldn’t paddle away.

I got into the area where the waves were at 90 degrees and was getting sucked right into the shallow water, which seemed to be solid limestone. After a bit I managed to paddle away from it all with a bruised pride, and a thoroughly cleansed nasal passage.

I then paddled around the front of Nusa Lik (little Nusa), and cut between Nusa and Nusa Lik to meet Kate at the resort for dinner, and to watch a slide show from Scuba Ventures. The cut between the 2 islands was also a bit intense. The surf isn’t big, but it is very shallow and rocky. I managed to slip through, but probably shouldn’t do this at anything other than high tide and low surf conditions. There were big rocks all over the place.

SV does a slide show, and produces a CD for every group of divers that come through documenting their trip. It was kind of cool, and we saw some good diving shots. This reminded me I haven’t really been diving since I have been here, and it really looks to be first class. I have to put this on my list of things to do.

Dinner was nice, but I didn’t feel like getting back into my boat and paddling with a full belly of booze and food. The paddle across the harbor was really beautiful in the dark. It was totally totally still and flat.

I also went out the next day 10/3/2009.

I haven’t been paddling very much, but finally got a full day in. I’m really out of shape because after 4 or 5 hours in the hot sun I felt really tired. I was sore for a couple of days after. At least it hurt in my lats, and not just my arms, so I must have remembered a little bit how to paddle.

It’s really hard to be out doing physical stuff in the hot sun here. It was a calm day, and really really hot.

I wanted to do a bit of surfing, but the break I went out near called “Pickaninny” (this is the Tok Pisin word for kid) was full of …. Kids surfing. I included a few pictures of them board surfing. This looks like a decent place for kayak surfing if I could stay out on the edge. I THINK the water is deep enough. The waves were big, but had a nice blue water beginning, especially out on the end. I know it must be all rock and coral closer in, so this will definitely be a helmet location.

I included a few pictures. These are pretty big waves at least 6ft high.

I found a nautilus shell floating out off the coast and saw a pod of dolphins. At one point one of the stood up on its tail; just like a trained animal at Sea World. It almost seemed as if it did it to get a look at me.

I saw lots of kids playing in the surf down the coast. This is definitely not a good place for kayak surfing since the tide was high and the waves just smashed into the shore. It was too deep on the reef to break.

I saw a big sea turtle near the point of the island. I caught a picture of it in a movie, and included a still. I think it was almost 3 ft across the shell, which is pretty big. Especially somewhere we people hunt them.

The next week we got some free Tuna from the tagging boat. The boat comes to town every once in while and some Tunas get hurt before they can be released. The one Kate is holding is a skip jack. We did a much better, but not good, job of filleting this one. Kate has some really cool videos of the locals doing it that we studied first. It is tricky because they have an extra set of lateral bones in them. We ate a ton of it raw, also cooked, and froze some. I really want to try and catch one in my kayak yet, but one like this would probably pull me around for quite a while.

Stinky took care of the scraps. It’s feast or famine for him. Sometimes plain rice, sometimes a few pounds of fresh tuna head and bones.

One week the Governor General of PNG came to town. They had a big festival for him, shutdown the city for a day, and did a bunch of speeches and processions. I made a video of the first procession. They had some traditional dancers escorting him. The dude in the white clothes is the GG (that’s what he told me to call him). It’s kind of cool, whenever they have a big event, they include a bit of “sing sing” traditional dancers. There was more dancing, but we got tired of the endless political speeches and left before it happened.

The GG was in town to honor a bishop, and I caught part of his speech. It sounded strangely familiar:

“Ask not what PNG and GOD can do for you, but rather what you can do for PNG and GOD” Hmmm I wonder how he thought that up, pretty good huh???

Kate and I went to Brisbane near the middle of September to get our visa. We weren’t expecting to have it work out, but it did and she got her 3 year research visa, and I got my “dependent” visa. It can be very difficult to deal with the bureaucracy here, and were thrilled to get our visas on the first try.

Brisbane was OK, but we are glad we don’t need to go back since we definitely saw it all, and can go where we want to on our next trip. We are thinking New Zealand for Christmas…

I managed to drink a bottle of wine almost every day I was there, so I was pretty proud of that. As my grandfather told my father when he boasted of his drinking exploits in college “That’s a hell of a thing to be proud of”.

We also ate some hamburgers, steak, and I even managed to find a Kangaroo steak at a takeout place. I was proud of that too!!

We had a big shopping list of stuff we can’t find in PNG, so we wasted a bit of time doing errands and buying things.

We rented bikes to explore the city. They have a great series of bike paths along the river, but the riding on the road is difficult, there aren’t many bike paths, and the drivers go pretty fast. Combine this with their annoying habit of driving on the left hand side of the road, can make for some hair raising rides. At one point a car going 40 miles an hour came within inches of clipping Kate with his rear view mirror.

Eventually we shifted to riding on the sidewalks. This is legal in Australia.

The first day we rented the bikes it got really really cloudy and dark at 10:00AM because they were having a dust storm. They said it was the worst one in 40 years. It shut the airport down, and shrouded the city in a red haze. The same storm hit Sydney the day before. I was probably the equivalent of smoking a pack of red cigarettes, and it really irritated my nose. I included a few pictures. The one of Kate on the waterfront is looking across the river to a giant Ferris wheel.

We managed to see a movie, and also a play in a really cool performance space made out of an old powerplant. I included a picture of the urinal at the powerplant. The Austrailians seem to love these giant urinals, where you just go against the wall. I think I would be a bit shy if it were full of beer bloated blokes, but it does look kind of cool. This was the finest example, you just climb up on the grate and do your business, be sure to keep one hand on the giant beer!!!

We spent a few days visiting a friend in Newcastle. The bike paths are better here. We went to the beach one day which totally reminded my of Santa Cruz CA. Steep sandy cliffs and beautiful beaches. There were fewer (none) hippys, and only a couple of surfers, but the scenery looked a lot like it.

The bike paths were better here, but an Australian driver offered to shove a bike pump up my ass when we cut in front of him at the traffic light. The people here are pretty friendly, but they seem to turn into fiends in their car. We wrote it off as being the Australian way of saying “Good Day Mate”, when behind the wheel.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Release date 9/27/2009

I released this message in Kavieng Harbor while kayaking.

The night before we went there was a power failure on our street. It was pretty dramatic. There must have been a short circuit the wires outside our house started sparking glowing, and eventually blew right off the pole. All kinds of crazy blue and red sparks. The whole neighborhood was plunged into darkness. Kate was out on the street, and I was watching from the porch.

They were working on it in the morning. I have included a picture of the guy sitting on top of the cross piece. You can see his ladder is a bit short, so he climbed the rest of it. The thing hanging down, totally useless, is his safety strap that is presumably supposed to be attached to the pole. It is about 100 degrees in the sun at 10:00 AM. He is about 40 feet in the air. They had Oldies from the 1960s, Wipe out and the Beach Boys, that kind of stuff, cranking on their radio while they were working. I guess he didn't fall because it was all working when we got home and looks totally normal now.

We tried to do everything in one day: paddling, fishing, kayak surfing, snorkleing, and having lunch on the beach. We managed to get it all in, but didn't really master any one activity.

We could see the surf break, I think it is called "long long" was cranking pretty good off of the tip of Nusa Island. Long long means crazy in tok pisin (PNG pigeon) so we wanted to be careful.

As we paddled over near the break we met a man and some kids fishing from an outrigger canoe. It was one of the those classic kayaking things where you can just make out something from a distance, and as you get closer you can very slowly figure out the full story. When we launched we thought we saw a canoe with a single paddler. 10 minutes later we could see a figure standing in the canoe hitting the water with a giant stick. At 20 minutes we could see one man in the canoe with the stick and other figures in the water.

Kate reckoned, correctly, that they were trying to herd fish into a net. When we got really close the figures in the water were kids spearing the reef fish, the man was indeed herding them into the net, so the kids could spear or grab them. We chatted with them for a bit, or Kate did. I still haven't done much in my Pigeon course, and can't seem to get past: beer, dog, pig, eat, good morning, good afternoon, etc etc.

The family was from New Hanover, but married into a family living on Nusa. The kids were only too happy to show us the fish they were catching. Really pretty parot fish, they were tossing them into the boat. The spears looked like simple pole spears. The reef here was pretty healthy. Lots of living coral, and a nice change from some of the other reefs we have seen in the harbor. We took a few underwater pictures, by holding the camera under the kayak, always a dicey proposition.

We could see that there were indeed a bunch of kids surfing on the break. I now have to find the tide tables and try to remember that this is a good time. We got in the water about 12:15, out to the break by 13:00.

I think high tide was about 15:00. I don't think it is current related. There is a very slight current in the harbor. I think it is all about swell size and depth over the reef where it breaks. These were all local kids. The little ones near the shore were using planks and pieces of wood, while the older kids were on surfboards. There were some boggie boards in the middle.

I hope someday we will see a Papua New Guniean on the world surf circuit. The oldest kid was maybe 16, rail thin, but pretty good. Riding up and down the wave, right on the break pumping the wave looking totally at home.

People have told me that this is not a good place for beginners. The breaks are always on coral reefs, which is sort of like cemet with broken glass sticking out of it. Getting my body ground between my kayak and the bottom like I do back home on a sanbar could be kind of nasty, so I want to be real careful.

When we got out there I did decide to try a few rides. The reef runs off the tip of the island, so I figured if I stayed near the very edge, where the wave is mostly green where the water was deeper it would be ok. This also allowed me to stay out of the way of the board surfers, since they couldn't catch these waves that are just barely breaking.

This is actually the best kind of wave for a sea kayak. In my "short" sea kayak of 15 feet, it is slightly maneuverable but all you can do is ride straight ahead. Real kayak surfers in white water, and surf kayaks can ride the curl of a wave, like a board surfer, but that isn't an option for even a small sea kayak.

I did a few rides and the kids were laughing at me. In 10 minutes I got 3 or 4 50 yard rides. I'm

looking forward to getting out more and seeing how the breaks develop as we get into surf season. This is the biggest I have seen, but the season isn't supposed to start until November. I suppose then the swell will increase a lot.The trough to peak height was about 6ft, I imagine it will get two or three times bigger.

There is a funny system for surfing in place. The local community has organized a quota system, and they only let 20 surfers a day use the breaks around Kavieng. I think there are 4 or 5 of them. Three are within a few miles of Kate's office. You have to buy a pass to surf for the day. The tourists like this since they are virtually guaranteed to have wave after wave all to themselves.

It is $15 a day or some nominal fee, but…The 2009/2010 season is already totally sold out. I think Nusa resort buys all of the slots for the whole year, and then sells it to their guests. Locals can surf any day if they are a member of the surf club. But I think "local" means a Papua New Guniean, and even they probably wait until the tourisits get tired so they don't get in their way. It is neat system since it pumps money back into the community, but it might be a problem for somebody like me who isn't staying at the resort, and hasn't bought a pass.

I'd be happy to pay $15, but I would want to wait until the day when the surf was good, I didn't have something else to do, and wanted to go. I can't look at the calendar and buy a couple of days right now in November and December. I was thinking I would just for the hell of it, but it looks like the year is totally sold out….

I'm kind of thinking the best thing is to just check everytime I am out paddling, or every morning, and if the swell is good, just go out paddling, and jump on a wave if there is nobody else around. If I'm lucky it won't be an issue since the safest place for me is going to out where the water is deeper and waves aren't good for surfboards.

I'm going to look around and try and find a place where the break is good for kayaks, and not good for board surfing. It is totally irresponsible to surf in a sea kayak anywhere near board surfers anyway since if the kayak gets turned sideways and start doing what they call a "bongo slide" It will be broadside to the wave in the white water, out of control, just trying to stay upright. This means that a 250lb 15ft mass is sliding across the water, and would mow any swimmer over.

The other issue is that a kayak is a LOT faster than a surfboard, and can catch a wave a lot further out in deeper water, so the kayak can always be the first person on the wave. The etiquette is to let the first person up on wave have it. This is to be courteous, and also to be safe so there are no collisions, but it isn't courteous or safe if you are in a kayak, and everybody else is swimming.

We then paddled over to Nago island and had lunch. We met a guy who's family owns the island. He is a cop in the capital city of Port Moresby. This city is famous for it's crime and violence. I haven't been there yet. Kate was for a visit and it sounds kind of bad. Everyone has to be off the streets a few hours before dark.

The city is ruled by gangs of "rascals". This not your spanky and alplha kind of rascals. These are armed thugs who hijack cars and kill people. Gunfire is pretty common. One of the rascal's problem is that they often can't afford or find ammunition. So now whenever they hold up a car or a person, they will have shells in their mouth to demonstrate that they do have bullets. The other way to demonstrate it is to fire a few into your car, the street, or presumably your leg.

This means that PNG has very very strict gun control laws. I brought my powerhead for "puk-puks" crocodiles, but now I can't buy bullets. I need 357 magnum shells... My original plan was pick them up a sporting goods store. That isn't going to be happening.

Anyway lunch was nice. They cut down a couple of coconuts for us. I ate half of one, and started feeling a bit funky. I'm starting to think I'm allergic to them. The last coconut episode is still fresh in my memory.

After lunch we tried to go snorkeling on a reef on the other side of the island. I went here the last time I was paddling and it looked beautiful. Crystal clear water, about 15 feet deep that went for miles. Unfortunately the high tide had flushed all this muddy water out of the mangroves. We couldn't find the reef from the boats, and when we did dive down there was a 7foot layer of warm brown water with Gulf of Mexico after a storm visibility on the top.

Once you got below it you could see for 20 or 30 feet, but I'm already spoiled and consider this crap visibility so we gave up.

I did see yet another small sea turtle. This means I have seen a turtle almost every time I have been out. Kate saw one later on the surface as well.

On the way back in we tried a bit of fishing, but it was starting to get dark and we could see rain off in the distance.

A little kid we saw at Nago was interested in my kayak, but ran away from me when I tired to let him sit in it. The kid had probably not seen many white people and he was scared of me. Kate has met kids who have never seen white people at all and they get scared and start screaming and crying when they see her. I'm looking forward to that. Apparently we look like "ghosts".

When we got back to the dock and carried the boats back up, we saw two little kids. Leon and Byron. I met these kids a few weeks ago. I was painting the covers for the air conditioners to Kate's office. Leon, who is about 3 or 4 came up and started staring at me. People often stare at me because I am doing things regular white men aren't doing: Riding a bike, doing manual labor, paddling a funky looking kayak with a life jacket, digging a hole in the yard to put a bomb casing up to hold the garbage, shopping for food, etc etc…

He just stood there staring at me, so I held out the paintbrush and he took it and started doing the painting. He didn't do too bad, then his brother Byron came-up, and I thought back to that classic Mark Twain story when Huck Finn gets the other kids to paint the fence for him. Byron had a fish he had snagged for his dinner, but I decided to just let him do the painting, and not make him give me the fish. Huck Finn got a broken knife, a dead cat, and bunch of other stuff.

When Kate came out to check on me I was under an umbrella, and the kids were doing the painting. I explained that I was "training" them. Anyway these same kids live around Kate's office, and they came up when we broght the boats back in, along with the 10 other people who stopped what they were doing to stare at us.

I let them sit in the boats, then Kate put them to work while we cleared boxes out of our container. The continer is full of packing peanuts that leaked out of bags we used for cushions. The little kids could reach in places we couldn't get to and pick them up. I explained to Kate that this is why they used to use kids down in the mines. They are limber, they don't use much air, and they can get into spots we can't get to. We sent them home with the extra coconuts because between the coconut, and the 120 degree temperature in the container I was ready to call it a day.I'll give them a ride next time.

I forgot what the ultimate truth of the day was, sorry….

Monday, September 14, 2009

Release Date 9/12/2009

Release Date 9/12/2009

I released this message in Kavieng Harbor while kayaking. Kate and I went for our maiden kayak voyage in PNG.

We paddled out into the harbor and met these kids who were paddling a large outrigger canoe. They were clowning around standing up and stuff, and I think making fun of us. I was going to race them, but they had too much of a headstart.

We went over to look at the house we wanted to rent on Nusa Island. It seems the owners daughter is in it now, so it doesn’t look like that will work out. The house looks ok, but it is in a great spot bordering the channel between the 2 islands. You can see the surf break and the open ocean from the shore where I would build our veranda, which would double as a cigar and beer dispensary. I think we are just torturing ourselves looking at it…

We then got caught in a tremendous rainstorm, it had been drizzling all afternoon, but it really came down. It was the first time I have been cold in this country. There was even a bit of lightening, so we hung-out on the shore waiting for it to stop, or at least slow down. In addition to no warm clothes we also didn’t have any lights. It was just like a trip on the Hudson, without the box wine.

On the way back in we saw a large turtle. This is only about 300 yards from where the guy was butchering and eating the turtle last week, so we encouraged the turtle to go somewhere else.

I went out again on 9/13/2009 and saw all kinds of fish, including I think small frigate tuna jumping near the shore, and yet another large turtle. At one point a big fish slammed into the back of the boat. I think he might have been stunned, since I saw him bobbing near the surface, but he swam away before I could repeat my hand grab move that won me fame and fortune on Japanese TV a few years ago.

It was fairly windy, as I went out past Nago island. This looks like another good place for fishing and diving. There seems to be a large reef that goes on for almost a mile in not too deep water.

We are getting ready to take a trip to Australia on the 17th for 1 week. Last night I had a dream about eating a hamburger, and I don’t really even like hamburgers!!

It has been very busy because a lot of people from Kate’s organization up in the highlands have been in town for some terrestrial projects they are going to do on New Ireland, and the surrounding islands. The house across the street and our house were totally full of these visitors. We met a lot of nice people, but I’m looking forward to things quieting down.

We had a big BBQ the other night for them. They don’t use charcoal here, you just dig up the yard, and cook over wood. You don’t have to worry about messing up the grass because everything grows really really fast. It rains all the time, and the soil looks like potting soil.

We borrowed a “grill” from the neighbors. Instead of a grill they use a giant flat piece of metal on legs like a square frying pan. They then toss the food and oil onto it. You are supposed to wrap it in foil first, which nobody told me, so I spent an hour the next day trying to get the burned junk off of it. I included a picture. You can see one of the bomb casings in the background that I pressed into service as an alternate grill with a grate for some fish.

Somebody told Kate they sell firewood at the prison, so she went over there and got the prisoners to chop up a bunch of it. The prison seems to have pretty loose security. One day we saw a road crew cutting bush. Imagine 50 guys in their underwear with no shoes, each armed with a giant machete (they call them “bush knives” here). I think that’s why Kate wanted to go over there to buy the wood, and I have instituted a strict no more going to the prison rule.

I’m also including a picture of our adopted dog named Stinky. He is very friendly, but worthless as a watchdog, and yes he does stink.

Truth: There’s always something to do.