Monday, June 27, 2005

Crossing over

The first thing we did was go for a swim (or a wash, as they call it) in the river that separates Mary's little village from the rest of the village. It was quite wide and deep in the middle, and the current was much stronger than I expected. It was lovely and cool, and I loved swimming, even if it cuased much amusement amongst the kids watching us.

After we went back to the house and changed we were heading over to the other side for the birthday party of Mary's cousin. To get across we had to make the trip in the dug-out canoe we'd been watching people ride in while we were swimming.

Paddling over the river - except these people are sitting, and we had to stand because the canoe (which they'd only made 2 days before, in my honour!) was full of muddy water.

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Standing in a tiny rocking canoe while they pole is over sounds easy - let me tell you, I was shaking the whole time - especially the trips when I had my camera in my hands!

Unfortunately, when we got there instead of the singing and dancing we'd been anticipating, we arrived to the commotion of people yelling and running in every direction. The party had been going on since early morning, and it had now reached that noxious time of the afternoon when all PNG parties or events seem to deteriorate into fighting and brawls. Boys from another village had come, and with all the drinking that had been going on, "drunkheads" (as the girls write in their journals all the time!) began throwing fists and then bottles, and the party atmosphere collapsed into semi-chaos, and then silence as everybody raced first to verandahs of houses (or to where the action was), and then back home again when it became clear that the music was stopped for good. A shame, becuase Mary had really been talking up the dancing, and her sister-in-law (tambu) was really waiting for it, all dressed up in her tinsel (around her head) and plastic hula skirt - but madi, ol pinis - sorry, all over. Oh well.


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