Perhaps I was slightly over dramatic last night. Madang is gorgeous. When I woke up in the morning I realised that we are literally a couple of metres from the sea. It really took me by surprise! We drove up the coast picking up increasingly larger numbers of Mrs Nomino’s relatives until the car was packed up like taking pigs to market. I tried some fruits that I hadn’t even heard of: Laulau, which is a very strange fruit a little bit like a pear but with a large seed like an avocado. Delicious. Also these strange swollen little bananas which were white and tasted oddly milky. We stopped off at a couple of points to get in the water. It was so nice to be in the sea again, I didn’t realise how much I missed it. I happily passed away a couple of hours meandering through the beautiful reef (thankfully Verena leant me a snorkel). It was surprisingly good – the variety of enormous, vibrant coral formations were to rival the Maldives (Unfortunately the water was significantly murkier though!) I managed to find a little nudibranc which brought back fond memories of Pemba Island and at one point came face to face with a large eel less than half a metre away – That’s what you get for diving down to look in the little caves in the reef! The area really was spectacular, with dark volcanic sand between thick rainforest and turquoise sea. Every now and then a few flying foxes would spring out from the tree tops and fly passed us.
One sun-burnt back and a couple of reef cuts later we headed back to the house, drinking from some coconuts that we picked up on the way. The sun was setting when we arrived back and the water was irresistible. The fact that it’s prime crocodile territory here was not a strong enough deterrent.
These people are out of their minds. I’ve spent the whole day on the road with the C.C.C (Crazy Christian Clan a.k.a the headmistress’ family) driving to Madang, on the coast of PNG. The drive itself was spectacular. The culmination of different textures and colours in the foliage here is extraordinary. We eventually descended from the highlands into thick rainforest. Imagine bouncing along at 80 k along a dirt track through the jungle whilst trying to eat a watermelon out of the window. Hilarious. Anyway, Mrs Nomino had told me that we would be staying in a Lutheran guest house in Madang. It transpires that this was just what she hoped to do. The guest houses were all full due to the approaching Christmas holidays and the hotels and lodges were obscenely expensive (around 500 Kina a night – around £250). The C.C.C was moving at an incredibly glacial pace considering the situation, for example spending an hour chatting to an old friend on the phone… I plucked up the courage to rudely ask if we could stay with Mrs Nomino’s sister who lives in Madang (honestly I’d been wondering why it hadn’t been suggested three hours earlier). They eventually came to the conclusion that this would be OK.
Seriously. It was like the meeting of the Ents in Lord of the Rings.
So, we got back into the car when Mr Nomino proceeded to tell me that this was a very dangerous place and that we needed to wind up the windows in case some of the strangers from other provinces try to shoot at us with guns, which is happening very frequently at the moment.
That really calmed me down.
I was then scanning the road whilst trying to shove down some food and getting indigestion whenever I saw a man or group of men at the side of the road. To exacerbate things the C.C.C where then explaining that this is the most common place for road accidents as the roads and bridges are very bad, probably due to angry spirits. The cherry on top of this escalating state of terror was Mr Nomino telling me that Margaret had asked the headmistress for money and that “there is something possessing that woman and the whole community knows it.” Oh MY GOD!! I’m now sat on the floor of Mrs Nomino’s sister’s house (if you can call it that) in the middle of the PNG WW2 cemetery. I’m sweating so much that I could be mistaken for a water feature – it’s ridiculously hot here and the entire clan are sleeping on the floor around me…