“There are no strangers, only friends we have not met yet” – On a plaque outside the Bird of Paradise Hotel, Goroka.
This certainly seems to sum up the people I have met so far. You greet people here, like in England, by shaking hands except here you do it with everybody, people you pass in the street, in town etc not just when you meet but every time you see them. Sometimes a handshake can last as long as half a minute! Hugs are also popular. An old lady selling betelnut (a local drug – more on this later) in town got up and hugged me for what felt like 5 minutes. I thought she wasn’t actually going to let go so had to prise myself away! It is impossible to pass by unnoticed, particularly as I appear to be the only white person in the province! Even when I’m just passing by on the bus people stop what they’re doing to stare. It reminds me of when we were in Pemba (small Island off the coast of Tanzania). The people what drop their laundry and run out into the road to stare at us as we walked past!
P.B. I’m starting to pick up a little bit of pidgin. It is MUCH harder to understand than I thought it would be! Me no havay = I don’t understand/I’m not listening! Lik lik = small, bigpla – big, pikinini = child, me like drink wara = I would like some water. Etc