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The Golden Dawn - Jacquie's Perspective

Turbulent Times in Papua New Guinea

storm 24 °C

Forgive me bloggers, for I have sinned. It has been three weeks since my last blog entry . . .

Three weeks! I wish I could say that I've been on vacation (I know, how laughable is it to need a vacation from a vacation....), but that was - unfortunately - far from the truth. As Lloyd indicated, I was stuck in my own private hell that was the Golden Dawn. To be fair, the Golden Dawn wasn't the problem. But the cyclonic seas around her threw that tiny boat around something wild, and I'm just not built for that kind of 360 degree turbulence.

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How I enjoyed my ten days...

With a bad cold from the start, it was clear that I would be missing several days of diving anyway. But the rough seas and poor visibility, coupled with persistant sea sickness, meant that I wasn't tempted into the water until the last day. I can't even begin to measure the disappointment. This was a real highlight of the trip - the dive trip of a lifetime - and I managed a single dive.

I wish I could tell you the dive was worth waiting for. It wasn't. The visibility could be measured in inches rather than feet, and an unpredictable current whipped us around in all directions. All you could do was hang on for dear life to the reef (or in my case to Lloyd) and hope you could find your way back to the boat.

Unlucky, for sure. As Lloyd has mentioned, the conditions were unprecedented. And while this was one of the most expensive parts of our trip, we are reminded that many Papua New Guineans were left homeless or worse by Cyclone Guba. We will live to dive another day, and another reef. Others were not so lucky.

On the brighter side, I was ecstatic when - after ten loooooooooooong days - we returned to dock on Thursday, which just so happened to be Thanksgiving. As luck would have it, a local expat American swung an invite to the US Ambassador's Thanksgiving dinner, so we found ourselves enjoying turkey and all the trimmings with the local Embassy Staff. An unexpected treat, but much appreciated by these weary travellers for whom a roast turkey and cranberry sauce was but a distant memory!

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No roasties or yorkies, but it was still like Christmas come early....! I couldn't resist going back for seconds, much to Lloyd's embarrasment!

With our flight leaving mid-afternoon, and precious little time onland in PNG, we took the opportunity to visit a local market. By far, the most friendly place we have visited, with locals bursting into smiles and waves. In many countries, when we take out our cameras and ask to take a photograph, we are asked for money in return. Not once did this happen in PNG.

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We were horrified to see this tiny spotted eagle ray for sale at the market. We also saw a sea turtle, still alive, at another stall. But you gotta make a living, right, so who are we to judge?

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This lady was breast feeding right up until I took the photo. Note the red, betelnut-stained smile.

Unemployment is very, very high here - up to 80% in some urban areas. As a result, many adults have little to do but sit around on the streets all day, hoping to sell a second hand pair of shoes, some betelnut, or anything else they can get their hands on. This is the kind of place where you hang out all day outside the workplace of your one, employed buddy in the hope that they'll give you a few kina on their way out. When we went to draw cash from the ATM, Lloyd found himself surrounded by four uniformed guards, including one armed with a shotgun.

Last stop, a quick perusal at a local handicrafts store. We'd have loved some of these giant masks to adorn our (future) home!

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Of course, as we left PNG the weather was picture-perfect, with the ocean flat and blue and every inch the tropical paradise we were hoping for. Lloyd will be back to dive here for sure. It remains to be seen whether you'll ever get me back on a dive boat...

Posted by jacquiedro 20:22 Archived in Papua New Guinea Tagged round_the_world

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Comments

But what a nice toilet seat!! I'd shudder to think what would happen if I were forced to hug the fixtures on some of the Egyptian dive boats I've been on. Good on you for making the best of it.

by rathyen

Golden DARN! But happy and safe after all with a Embassy table of plenty , God bless y'all. Must say the journal entries improved IMEDIATELY, upon return from the mini porcelain throne, but keep plugging Lloyd, you done good in the absence :-).

by pshack

Dashed bad luck chaps. That's the bugger with nature, can't control the bloody thing. Still, good to see you haven't lost your sense of perspective - and still some amazing pics. Pip pip.

by Norvicensi

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