Day 7: karawari arrival and sago making – Papua New Guinea

Woke up at 5am for my 6:30am departure. My alarm didn\’t wake me up though, I woke up naturally at 4:30
My bags are packed so I made a coffee and tea. And I was able to connect with Stacey and my dad! Stacey told me not to finish the coffee so I didn\’t.
I was exiting my room, just about to walk up the two big flights of stairs with my bags when I hear the sound of a van approaching. So I waited a moment and it was Joe and Andrew! Getting ready to take me to the airport! Sweet, no stairs for me! Also it turns out that the governor of mount Hagan was actually my annoying neighbor today played music in the morning.
I tipped everyone then took a moment to say goodbye to the view from Rhondon Ridge. I feel better! And I\’m ready for the next adventure.
I hopped on the van with 3 other people who would be on my flight. I met a lovely older woman who I may be touring with tomorrow. She\’s been exploring png for quite a while and is pretty interesting to chat with. I think she is traveling alone
At the airport, Andrew gets out and opens a gate with barb wire on top. Then exit the van and go into a dim room. The room seems dusty, but they\’re are a few chairs scattered around for us to sit in. Our under the plane bags are taken without being weighed in front of me and loaded on the plane. I do see a scale, it is clearly broken. There is no running water at the airport which includes the bathroom in this vip area. I think it\’s a vip area anyway. The walls remind me if grade school, big cement tiles.
I noted that I didn\’t go through security!
I\’m out on the tarmac and I see the plane. There\’s four tourists one pilot two natives on board and tons of supplies for the png locals.
The plane is small! But nobody even looked at my two carry on bags. I can see the pilot who is constantly looking downward at what I assume it\’s a map. It\’s kind of loud, but I found the provided earplugs and put them in! The cabin is not pressurized! The landscape we are flying over varies with mountains, valleys & lakes. I\’m taking some photos but I wish that they had cleaned the windows. The pilot is an older white dude. Which is interesting because of the lack of white people I see in png. The tourists are 3 white people and an Indian fellow. Everyone is pretty nice. One woman said that the last time she was on a plane like this she threw up the entire time. Happily I\’m not sitting next to her.
Rosanna made a comment that resonated with me. She\’d been reading so much about karawari that she can\’t believe she\’s actually going now, which is how I feel.
We landed safely on a grass runway. They\’re was a group of native people there waiting for us, they wanted to see the plane land and who gets off of it. There were people with Western style old clothes on, people with barely anything on and naked people. I tried to interact but none of them felt comfortable to interact back. But I was able to make a few children smile.
Then we made our way to a boat. The boat was motorized and we went down the karawari river. There were people on hand made boats on the river, and people chasing after our boat from the shores. After about 20 minutes, we arrived at our stop. When we climbed some muddy steps that broke away with our weight, so we had to be careful. We moved to a Jeep, where we had a 5 minute ride bumpy, twisty, bouncing ride to the karawari lodge.
The lodge is littered with artifacts. But the first thing is for the lodge manager to talk to us. His speech takes about 25 minutes and it\’s boring. Plus they\’re is an a whistling sound that is constantly occurring. I find out that the whistling noise is radio waves, as that is the only form of communication to this lodge. That\’s right. No phone. No cell phones. No wifi, no nothin.
He hands out the keys but said my room isn\’t ready yet. So I go to sit down in the lobby area to wait and watch the jungle. Eventually he comes and and hands me the key.
There is no communication to karawari lodge except for radio. Which is the constant whistling sound heard in the main lobby area.
My room is one piece of two halves of a hut. It\’s basic but decorated traditionally. The bathroom is meh, the bedroom is meh. The windows don\’t close, there\’s no AC. Yup. In the jungle. I move a chair so that when I sit down so that I can always look out the window. Also, anyone can look in my window that passes by. I can draw the shades at night I guess.
There is a mosquito net over the bed. YES!
I\’m pointing out that this is the only hotel in this jungle area and I feel lucky to have a place to sleep with a mosquito net!
It\’s humid in karawari! And hot. If I take a shower I may never dry off
Lunch was pretty good, not too much food but tastey. It is the first time that I\’ve had an appetite in a while. Again we don\’t choose from a menu we are simply served fud.
At lunch, I have some time to get to know the two birders and Rosanna. All of them are at least 15 years older than me. But they are nice. It sounds like while in karawari I\’ll be hanging with Rosanna going to tribes – it will be good to have company this time. When I\’m in lake Murray I\’ll most likely spend my one birding day with the two birders. So I make nice.
Back in the room waiting for 2:30 I enjoy looking out the window and making sure that I put a spray of deet into each of my souvenirs plastic casing that I purchased and all over my body.
Back on the river we head to the Yokium tribe to learn how to make sago. Sago, pronounced saygo is their staple food and resembles flower of sorts. They can make it into pancakes or a very thick sticky substance.
Half the tribe is naked. We saw some playing in the mud by the river banks. The mud reminds me of the kind of mud that rich people would pay to lie in. It\’s black mud and had aquasi-solid feel under my feet.
To make sago, first a man chops into a big piece of a tree trunk. then he takes the center meat of the tree and gets it out of the trunk. Next a woman comes by and collects the tree meat takes it down to the river and runs water through it discarding the unnecessary bits and identity the good bits.
Back at camp they an organize and cook the sago first into a pancake form then into the sticky form.
Later they also show us how they make fish with the sago in a pot.
They sell a lot of souvenirs, all of them are interesting and now that there\’s other people here it\’s nice to see that they are buying things which means I feel less guilty about buying nothing. Rosanna is particularly interested in buying stuff. I am waiting for tomorrow. It will be good to have her buy stuff at each tribe.
On the boat ride back to the hotel it began raining very hard behind us. We tried to beat it to shore and we did but shortly after getting off the boat and onto the Jeep it began pouring rain. while the Jeep was driving we were still getting wet from water splashing back on us display being in the middle seat of the Jeep. The Jeep arrived underneath an awning so I actually did not get too wet.
Suddenly thunder lightning downpour rain. It lasts about 20 minutes then slows down and stops.
After the storm I\’m hearing a lot of birds chirping.
The thunder continues all night, but I haven\’t noticed more rain. Instead I see flashes of light in the far distance while attempting to watch the sunset which is covered by clouds
Dinner was tasty which was surprising given how deep into the jungle we are. Maybe it\’s because we are close to the source.
Back at the room I liked some bugs, showered to feel clean if only for a moment, and went to sleep.
Our guide Paul told us to be ready tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. to start our tribal trip.
Dinner is at 7, that\’s 2 hours away.
Language is pidgeon, which is comparable mumbled English to an English speaker.
Youmingo = let\’s go