Soul Shake Down

So many ridiculous things have happened over the past couple of days that I’m starting to lose track. Yesterday, after the cancellation of the flight, I had my UCL interview over Skype. I’m not sure that I made any coherent sense at all. My mouth was seriously hurting as I’d tried betelnut in the morning; it was (I thought) my last day and betelnut is such a large part of the culture here – it would be like visiting Russia and not trying the vodka. Word of caution: Don’t ever try betelnut. I now have acid burns in my mouth from the disgusting stuff. Not pleasant.

This morning I eventually managed to get to Port Moresby where they arranged an alternative flight stopping overnight in Cairns. Luckily a relative of Wendy was in the area so took me to her house to wait. They have a pet crocodile called Ronda and a baby wallaby called Bali. Is that legal?! This is PNG though – they seem to make up their own rules. I eventually got on the flight to Cairns. I was assured that there would be somebody from the company to meet me at the airport. Inevitably there wasn’t. I arrived in a strange city in the dark into a completely empty airport with no plans until my flight at 5:30 the next morning.

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I asked the only staff member in the terminal for some assistance – he phoned through and Air Niugini had not arranged anything at all. After he’d given up, the pilot from my flight (who is, I may add, ridiculously attractive – looks like Chris Pine. Looks in his late twenties.) then came through to arrivals and took pity on me. He stayed with me for a couple of hours ringing the various companies on his iphone. He managed to make an arrangement and drove me to an office at the domestic airport where there was someone waiting to take me to my accommodation. A little bit bizarre getting a lift from the pilot. I was embarrassingly wearing my PJ bottoms and walking boots. Not a good look. A sweaty day in hot PNG holding Wallabies added to my general ‘homeless’ appearance. Anyway, I then bumped into an old French man who was in the same situation as me – with accommodation arranged at the same Hotel so we waited for the shuttle bus together. He’s been doing research into biodiversity in Madang with the Prince of Monaco (among other people)! They’ve discovered 200 new species in their three month program. Incredible! Their most notable discovery was a bright orange deep sea crab (surprisingly large) which was named after the prince – Grimaldi. The man didn’t speak English so it was a great excuse to practice my French for the evening – he seemed incredibly relieved to find somebody who understood him! In general it’s nice to be able to talk to men without having to discuss marriage arrangements. Things had become so ridiculous in Goroka that Verena had to tell the community that I was in fact married, I just didn’t wear the ring. Incidentally, if anyone out there is worried about not finding a husband, head to PNG and you’ll be hitched within a week.

The Cairns hotel is very luxurious! Such a nice surprise! We had a fantastic meal of locally caught Barramundi. The only rooms left were ‘superior garden view’ rooms. There’s a beautiful pool made to look like a natural rock pool with arrangements of boulders, palm trees and little waterfalls dotted about. I’m pretty sure it was shut – it was completely deserted. Irresistible. It was so nice to cool off whilst star gazing with fruit bats swooping around a couple of metres above my head. Definately makes up for the complications.

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