Day 10: Arrival at lake Murray – Papua New Guinea

I woke up at 4am. There\’s no lights in my karawari lodge room till 6 so I use my phone flashlight to get to the bathroom and back into bed, under the mosquito netting. I rest up until I see just a bit of light coming in.
It\’s nice lying here listening to the jungle wake up, one creature at a time before the heat of the day really takes hold.
Today is a travel day. I hope that my next location has a way for me to get in contact with Stacey and Dad. This hotel apparently used to have wifi until \”it broke\”. Their radio signals noises remind me of ww2 movies but it doesn\’t help me to let my family know I\’m doing alright.
No sunrise today, too cloudy. But I see a whole lot of dragonflies. This morning would have been nice to sit and watch the sunrise, because it appears that I have successfully killed all of the mosquitos in my room.
Grabbed a light breakfast, same as yesterday. The couple are now opening up a bit more so that\’s a positive since their staying at lake Murray with me.
Over the ww2 radio we hear news on our upcoming flight time, eventually the plan solidifies and we have a hotel departure time. It depends on when the pilot leaves from mount Hagan to Karawari. There is only one plane and it goes round in circles. Some people stop at each location, like me. Some take two planes in a row to their next stop.
Rosanna is disappointed that she is not stopping in lake Murray. We gained two couples on this flight that will be staying in lake Murray, one for only 1 full day, the other for two just like me.
There is mutual stress about the weight of the bags among all 4 of us. But I\’m not really concerned because my bags are underweight. Hooray for planning!
We take the Jeep to the boat to the airplane strip. There are people lined up waiting to watch the flights. The Mt Hagan flight arrives on the grassy landing strip and we see the newbies. We go onto the plane without any issues. Nobody had their bag weighed. Nobody is told to get rid of weight. Although the pilot does mention weight at one point. I\’m not going to worry for the next flight either.
On the plane I get the back seat. Which is best! Because I get to see the whole group of people and there is a lot of let room. Also I sit next to Rosanna and the two of us have a comedy routine going about the seat belts and the baggage at our feet – they put one piece of luggage in front of her seat so we moved it to the center of the plane. They\’re is a brief amount of time where the pilot is concerned about evening the weight out. But it\’s resolved and we take off shortly after.
The view from the plane is cool. We go through mountains which are so high it looks like the peaks are lower than the plane. Then the peaks break into hills then a valley between mountains and eventually dense forrest. It\’s pretty gorgeous, and marks the remoteness of the area.
We landed an the grass field and I said goodbye to Rosanna. I got her email because I promised I would share some photos. On the way off the plane there are again tons of people. This time they are all wearing clothes! We need to pass many of them and one guy is wearing a Yankees hat. Now, I don\’t know if he even knows who the Yankees are but I point to the hat and I say \”New York\”. He takes the opportunity to walk over to me and shake my hand like all Popua new gineans. We have a brief chat, then he tells me that in png true friend so this, and he kind of griped the top of my handshake hand with three fingers for a moment. Then said that if hope papuans greet friends. I think it\’s probably b******* but maybe I\’m jaded.
Our guide\’s name is Smith.
we get into the motorboat and about 25 minutes later we are at the lake Murray Lodge. It looks cleaner than Karawari lodge.
The people that I\’m with are mostly birders, first thing that we see is a bird called the kingfisher. everyone is excited to take photos of it so I take photos of it too. It\’s right in front of the lodge.
Then we\’re told that we\’re going to go birding, I ask this tribe visit because my itinerary says that there is a tribe visit with a government station. They say yes. So for about 2 hours we go look at birds. 10 we are returned to Lodge.
I talked to the lodge lead about the upcoming hike in my itinerary. He seemed surprised that I\’m asking he seems under the impression that there are only birders here. I go get my itinerary and I bring it to him and I tell him to read the 3 days that I expect. He holds on to it and tells me that we will go to the government station in 20 minutes. I start telling the other guests we\’re going to make sure that they don\’t miss out. Meanwhile The Lodge lead appears to have a meeting holding my itinerary.
At 5:00 we all go to the government station by boat, no hike. There will be no tribe visit today.
The government station also has a market which we go to beforehand. there are people selling just regular stuff on mats – freshly caught fish and the locally grown food. Now that I have six people in addition to myself all who are birders, they start taking out their very long cameras and taking pictures of the locals.
Since I\’ve learned how to say good afternoon I say it to a few people in the mats. And I start to notice that all the young boys are looking at me and starting to follow us around. So I say hello to them they say at a distance all watching us. I tried to interact with them a bit, but they seem too nervous. In the market my group is nearly done except for the picture taking. We\’re walking back and I keep seeing the boys on the sides of the market I following us then I see a very little boy in the middle of the market in our path.
Maybe he was three or four years old. I say hello and then I reach out my hand the boy grabs my hand and shakes it. Suddenly all the boys on The size of the market start talking to each other excitedly. if you are brave enough to come over and take my hand too. Then we go to the government station which is right nearby. Since the kids are following us I waved him to come with us. At which point they are excitedly running over. But we look at the sign in front of the government station which is all we\’re going to see The voice start lining up on the fence on the other side. All looking at me.
So I ask them do you want to see yourself. We all look around curiously. I take out my camera and then take a picture and then I show them. They are extremely excited now. After a few minutes while my group is still looking at the sign which I completed reading in about 60 seconds I asked the boys if they want to see themselves again. This shake their heads yes.
This time I put my camera on video and I start recording. I move my camera over each of the boys, every one of them gets very excited and freaks out we need to see themselves moving on my camera.
Then we see some people playing rugby we go over to them. Rugby\’s not an American sport s so I\’m not that interested but the boys follow us.
And we start heading back to the boat. The boys are excitedly chipping over each other to stay along the sidelines as we walk.
At the boat they\’ve congregated on top of the hill at overlooks the water. I say goodbye to them, they are very excited to say goodbye to me. I take a few pictures of the group and get into the boat. They\’re still staring at us which is a little odd they\’re part of the culture nonetheless when you\’re the only white people for so many miles.
They have a keen interest in me. So I waved at them from the boat, which is followed by screams of joy on their end. every time I wave a scream even louder and jump up and down. It\’s actually pretty adorable.
They want our boat until we\’re far enough in a distance for they can\’t see us anymore but no matter how often I waved while they could see us I heard them screaming in happiness.
Some of these people are from the Kuni tribe, like the the men in our boat. Here\’s the words that I learned and used at the market
Hello = taboosh boomah – good afternoon
Yah woah = bye
Back at the lodge we learn that the electricity is solar powered and available 24/7. The drinking water is collected from rain and it has gone through filtration and is available cold at the bar. The Lodge lead is Tony. So far he\’s proven that I need to keep tabs on my itinerary to make sure I do the things I want to do.
Breakfast is at 7, dinner at 7.
Paperbock tree = the scraggly tree I see everywhere.
Back in my room a shower and don\’t apply deet for the first time In days. It feels good, it feels risky. I do not see a mosquito in my room.
I go to dinner for everybody\’s already seated. This time all the tables are pushed together so we\’re eating as a big group. I asked whether the launch staff didn\’t or they asked for it and the answer was that they asked for it. Naturally I appreciated that but when I had the big table to myself I had a better view. The dinner was fine, the people were good people. The new older couple wife Jane, travel the world for 1 year a few years ago and we\’re still excited to talk about it.
I left them around 9:00 and one to sleep pretty quickly afterwards for my 4:45 wake up for my first and only scheduled day of birding.