Sunday, April 17, 2005

Village Island

Well today was the day we had planned to take a banana boat out to Krankett Island (the island across the bay that we could see from our balcony) and go swimming. When we first arrived, Mum and I had been excited about the idea of the island cruises offered by the resort, but Jeremy had been to Krankett before and said it was much better just to catch one of the dinghies that we saw ferrying locals across the bay every 15 minutes or so – and at 50 toea per person instead of 85 kina a head, well we could see the reason in that! (BTW toea is equivalent to cents, kina to dollars – though at less than half the value of Aussie dollars.)

We had planned to pack some fruit for lunch and walk down and catch the boat around 11.30ish as we figured church would still be on then, and the boats wouldn’t be too full – but when we started to pack, we hit the only sour note of the whole trip – our beach towels and Jeremy’s board shorts which we’d left on the verandah to dry (stupidly) overnight were now missing. Strong winds over night, or light fingers from either a gardener or passing fisherman – who knew? It was silly to leave them out, and now they were gone.

A change of plans – borrowing towels from the resort and a quick trip into town to try and find some other shorts at one of the second hand shops – meant we forgot to pack food (other than a few lady finger bananas) and only just scraped it into a relatively un-crowded boat before everyone emerged from lotu (church) and hit the jetty again.

The trip over was fun – it was a smallish dinghy with an outboard motor, and very close to the water – and we made it to the island in about 10 minutes.

In the banana boat, on the way to Krankett. (Photo courtesy of JCD)
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Once arriving, we were going to walk to a picnic spot where we could swim and Jeremy had brought 2sets of snorkels and flippers too. The villages / hamlets on the island were just gorgeous – we couldn’t help exclaiming over them – beautifully maintained flower gardens, neat grass and edges, traditional bush houses… Mum loved it and it was definitely a highlight of the trip (as she announced pretty much about everything we did – but this was a real highlight!!).

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One of the beautiful traditional village houses

The walk was pleasant, and although everyone was friendly, we were a bit surprised no one attached themselves to us to lead the way.

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Travelling across the island. I'm sure this is the right track...

As it turns out, we probably could have done with some help as we managed to take a wrong turn somewhere along the way, and ended up interrupting some poor family’s lunch! The father was very nice, immediately recognised that we were trying to get to the Lodge and offered to send his kids to direct us to the correct place. This actually was a lot of fun, because we now had this band of ragamuffins tramping their way ahead of us, leading us another 20 minutes or so to a completely different point of the island! We were very hot and tired by the time we got to where we were meant to be, but the kids just grinned and started playing on the jetty and beach, taking the 3 bags of Twisties I’d bought in town (our only food, other than the piddly little bananas!) to share gladly, and posing for photos before we left them with our thanks.

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Our tour guides!

The picnic place itself was lovely, even if we were charged to enter, and found ourselves not to be the only visitors (a boatful of people were also there, with a smaller dinghy and jet ski, which while noisy looked like fun). I managed to convince mum pretty quickly that she should use the second-hand trousers I’d bought in town for K2.50 that morning and my spare T-shirt to join us in swimming (she hadn’t brought her swimmers) – she couldn’t look any funnier than J in his new-old okanui short shorts (sorry, had to be mentioned!!) – and we all hit the water.

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Our little picnic place - long trek, but worth it <

We spent a lazy couple of hours in the water and lying under the coconut trees before finally walking back through the villages to catch another boat home – this time accompanied by another band of kids traveling back from fishing. This really was a fantastic day – and the getting lost bit turned out to be a spot of luck really, as Amanda told us later that night, as visitors to the Lodge picnic spot aren’t usually meant to wander all around the villages, so we saw a lot more of the island than most people normally do.

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Spear fishing - and check the kid in the tree

Amanda is another AVI who lives in Madang and works at the Divine Word University. I’d met her briefly on her way through Moresby late last year, and we saw her at the Puk Puk races and arranged to have dinner at the resort tonight. It was good to catch up and hear how she was going, and we were also joined later by Nick, another ex-AVI who lived in Lae (where Jeremy is), and is now in Madang too. He was a lot of fun, and it was good to hang out and swap stories for a night (although I told them at the start to self-censor – no nasty PNG stories in Mum’s company!) (not like our first night as volunteers in Moresby, where I think the AVIs who took us out were in competition for who could scare us the most!) (the scary stories are not representative of life in general here, BTW – but you do hear a few hairy ones, and naturally they’re the ones people tell most!)

PS Oh yeah – soft server icecream for dessert!!! I got a lot of teasing about the size of the bowl that I served myself, and I was hard pressed at first to fit it in after a huge soup and barbecued reef fish dinner, but there was no way I was missing out on my favourite icecream!!


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