The marriage system here is pretty odd. The man’s family pay a bridal price for a woman, usually prearranged, and the woman leaves her home town to live with the man. They often don’t live in the same house. Previous generations kept the wife and husband separate for three years after the marriage before they were allowed to live together.
Today I was waiting outside the post office in town whilst Margaret queued in a massive crowd to get in. I was standing there for over an hour and am now sunburnt. Anyway, that’s beside the point. Whilst I was waiting there a young man started chatting to me and was asking what I was doing in PNG. I explained about the teaching and where I was staying. Apparently that was a mistake. He had started off the conversation asking whether I was married or not, but I didn’t really make a note of that as everybody does that here. He moved on to talk about his province, telling me that I would like it there and explaining that he was a bachelor. The crux of the story is that he became adamant that we were to be married. He said that he would arrange with the headmistress of the school in his village for me to become a teacher there and that I could then move to live with him. I did explain that I was only here for a month but I don’t think he really grasped the concept. He was insisting that that was fine and that I could come back once he had finished his studies and we could be married then. The worst part about all this was that I was unable to move, having told Margaret were I would be waiting so this conversation went on for a good 40 minutes. When I broke away and later came home, we discovered that he had left a note with the man who lives opposite the school: “Alo Atos – Province: Enga. Dear Mrs Ms Miss Sophie, I will speak with my family about you then come back on Thursday Wednesday Tuesday to get your contact details so we can communicate. I will stay with you for a few days and then go home”. Mando is in the middle of nowhere and a 30 minutes bus journey from the town. Quite scary that he managed to find it! Big Mami says she will take care of him haha.