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.