Monday, March 28, 2005

Happy Easter

Happy Easter, everybody. Hope you had a nice weekend.

Mine was less than wonderful, but after a day of sleeping in, reading and lazy shopping with Pia today, I’ve started to recover.

I know this blog has been full of crappy stories lately, which doesn't seem fair because life here is generally pretty good, but there seem to have been a lot of mis-haps lately. I know its meant to be the Land of the Unexpected but i think whoever came up with that theory pushed it just a little bit too far over this weekend...

I went into town with Roselyn (a new M’ville teacher) this weekend, to stay in town with her at the house of some Australian Youth Ambassadors she knows. She met them at her old Province when they came for holidays, and I'd actually met them once or twice in town/at functions, but never really spoken to them for long. She's been going in to town a few weekends and staying with them, and has asked me to come a couple of times before - and each time I've either been busy or sick - but really I wasn't feeling much like going either because I don't really like turning up on people's doorsteps to stay if I don't know them very well, and the idea of more than a night away from my home is a bit much for me (I'm getting very tragic in my old age, but i'm exhausted by having to be sociable for extended periods!)

Anyway, she asked me to come for Easter, and i figured I'd better say yes this time, just for a night, to be sociable. So she came over on Saturday morning to say she'd got us a lift into town in an hour, so would I still come? I was a bit worried coz I'd made plans for Sunday to meet the other AVI's for lunch, but hadn't been able to get in contact to organise where/when/who etc as our phones have been out for a couple of days (only just back tonight), and wasn't sure how I'd get from the Youth Ambassadors (AYADs) place to the other volunteers - but Roselyn convinced me I'd sort it out, so i packed, and went into town with her. When we made it to their place, it turned out that they were going out (they'd thought we were coming the day before, but with no phones we couldn't call to let them know we couldn't get transport til Saturday) - but said there was enough room for us to come along.

That bit was actually quite fun - we went to a village about 45mins out of Moresby - there were 2 AYADs (Mark and Lara) and Lara's boyfriend (a PNG bloke - very cute too!), and his mates and another PNG girl - and it was one of their villages. We went to look a the village briefly, then went to the beach to swim. Unfortunately it was low tide, so where we drove to was all mud - so we had to walk over rocks to get to the swimming bit. Normally that would be cool, but I had only my sandals with me, and they were already falling apart, and very slippery, so it was a real pain in the arse walking about 20 mins over slippery rocks to get there in these bloody things (and i couldn't taken them off coz it was too hard and sharp).

But once we got there, the beach was great. Not like Kiama of course, but to be in the water was heavenly - and we stayed in for hours, just paddling and telling stories and drinking beer (well, i had one or two, but between them a case disappeared v quickly, along with a bottle of rum and a 12 pack of whisky mixers too). I knew they were going there to swim and drink, but i had thought it would prob'ly end when it got dark. But we just moved location, back to the car - after navigating those bloody rocks again, where this time the shoes actually did break. When we got back to the car, there was another case of beer waiting... We ended up staying about another 2 hours, with the car stereo blaring (mostly) country crap from the 80s, loud enough for the whole village to hear!

Now this is the point where you, dear readers, realise as I had about 3 hours ago, that yours truly is really getting very old and boring. Sitting around drinking beer and beer and more beer (or watching other people drinking anyway) just for the sake of it with a bunch of people i don't really know and who don't know me, and while mosquitos are treating me as an all-you-can-eat, is not really my idea of a good time. So i was pretty ready to be getting home long before they were. And getting quite worried about the state of the blokes. I was assured by Roselyn that our driver had not had much and was used to it anyway, but when they finally ran out of beer i was very happy.

Until the driver realised that he couldn't find his glasses. We spent the next hour (i kid you not) unsuccessfully trying to search the beach in the dark with no torches because he needed them to drive and wasn't leaving til he found them.

In the process, he decided to reverse his 4WD so he could turn the headlights onto the beach. Seemed like a good idea - until he got totally bogged in the sand. And I mean totally - you almost couldn't see the top of the back wheels. And no matter how often or loud we yelled at him to stop revving it, he couldn’t stop putting his foot totally to the ground. After trying with all of us pushing the back, then the front, we all had to search for rocks and branches to lay under the wheels to get traction - and then that didn't work either. More searching, more revving. Finally, about 20 mins later he finally got it free.

Then he found his glasses - IN HIS POCKET!!!!!!! Never thought to check earlier. ARGGHHHHH!!!!! But at least we could leave then.

But first we had to stop at his mum's house in the village for about half and hour, and then navigate a road that was mostly 1m deep ruts and 2m tall grass (i have NEVER been in a jerkier ride - I whacked my head on the window about 3 times, and on the roof handle once) (and we were 4 across the seat because there were so many of us) to get back to the highway. And from there he played the stereo, that same bloody country CD we'd already heard 5 times or more, the whole way home - louder than a Powderfinger concert - the stereo volume control was at 60.

Needless to say by the time we finally made it back to town i was exhausted and cranky (but still trying bravely to smile whenever anyone looked at me, realizing I was being a very poor sport!) The others were planning on going for a swim in their pool and then going out to Lamana (a nightclub) (it was about 11ish by the time we got home) but I knew i wouldn't last that, so was planning on staying at the house while they went.

But when we got back and started unpacking, Lara realised she couldn't find her house keys.

We turned the car just about upside-down searching, and emptied every bag about 5 times - but nothing. She must have lost them at the beach. They spent the next hour deliberating who they knew who could possibly have spares (no one who was in Moresby - all the other AYADs were on holidays in other towns), or how to break in (impossible - security grills on every window, deadlocks on every door + security doors). The compound they live on has 2 houses - Lara and a couple of others live in one, and Mark and a couple of others live in the other. Mark had his keys, so we finally ended up all staying in his house, but all our gear (well, mine and Ros's) was in Lara's place. That sucked last night as we had nothing to change into or toothbrushes etc, but sucked even more this morning when i knew i had to contact my AVI mates to go to lunch, and i had no other clothes or undies, no keys, no contact numbers, no money, no nothing - it was all in the other house (no iron in the house either, and my clothes had spent the night in a ball in my bilum).

I’d made plans to meet the AVIs for lunch, and had to get to Mark the AVI’s place by 11am. It was now midday, and I was still stuck at the AYADs place, trying to get to the right place. When I finally got in contact with AVI Mark, he and Neil had already decided we'd go to the Crowne Plaza for lunch - the classiest place in Moresby - and here's me walking in in yesterday's totally crumpled and smelly clothes, my hair a frizzy mess and fuzzy teeth/chip breath - with no money! To make it even better, I managed to drop grilled eggplant down my front on the first round at the buffet - just in case i didn't look and feel dreadful enough.

And I still had to get back to the AYADs place to get my stuff - IF they ever got into the house - Easter Sunday: good luck finding the landlord or real estate agent.

Yep, it was a shitty day, all round.

Never again will I take for granted the simple luxury of being able to clean my teeth, or wear fresh underwear.

As it turns out, lunch was nice, I borrowed money from Mark (the AVI), and i went back to his house to watch a DVD while waiting for the AYADs to tell me their place was open so i could get my keys etc - and we'd made plans to watch the finale of Outback Jack at 5pm - he knew i was a fan. But that meant I'd be stuck in Moresby again for the night as Neil went home after lunch. I nearly cried realising I'd have to stay in someone else's place for the night when all i wanted was my own bed and privacy- even if Mark (AVI) had been really nice in offering to let me stay at his place. But Neil (my hero) rang around 5.30 to ask if I wanted him to come and get me so I could go home tonight. The AYADs had finally got keys from the landlord, so we went and got my stuff, and then drove back home to Bomana. He even stopped at Foodworld on the way back so I could get food for dinner (didn't think we had anything in the house). It was SO good of him to do that, because i knew how much he wanted to rest in the afternoon, but he knew how exhausted i was, so he drove all the way back into town just to bring me home. He's a bloody saint!

Land of the Unexpected... oh my god!!!

I am really getting old, and way too used to my isolation out here, because i never want a 24 hours like that again! I'm exhausted.

Anyway, sorry this turned into a kind of mini-novel. I sound like too much of whinger i know - the AYADs really are lovely people - very welcoming, and so sorry about the way things turned out. It was just a bad run of luck, and I coped with it a lot less well than I should have - I'm blaming that on tiredness, old age and PMS! And the swimming at the beach bit was great. It was just once it got dark that it got bad! An unfortunate experience - but a very PNG one.

Hope everyone else had a much better day than mine (and considerably more chocolate!), and looking forward to hearing about it.


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