Brand New

“Change is inevitable. Change is constant.”

– Benjamin Disraeli

I felt a change of scenery was necessary before embarking upon the next leg of the journey! One week more…

Advertisements

Fresh Pair Of Eyes

“Medicine is not only a science; it is also an art. It does not consist of compounding pills and plasters; it deals with the very processes of life, which must be understood before they may be guided. “
– Paracelsus

I thought I’d take a moment to recount some of the experiences and stories that Anna and Hannah have stumbled upon during their two months in South East Papua New Guinea. They have been working in a hospital for their medical elective – firstly in coastal Alotau and latterly on Goodenough Island, one of the D’Entrecasteaux Islands in the Milne Bay Province. It’s interesting to hear about the PNG culture from a totally different perspective. The highlanders are still viewed by many of the coastal folk as complete savages! An Australian called David who’s been working with the palm oil plantations for the past 18 months described his first encounter: He had just arrived in PNG and was staying at a hotel in Port Moresby. The first time he ventured out of the house he saw a ‘rascal’ (generic name for thieves or troublemakers) attempt to pick-pocket a highland man in full traditional dress. The highlander grabbed the rascal’s hand, cut off his arm with a bush knife, threw it on the floor and carried on his way. Nobody else on the street batted an eyelid. David retreated immediately to his hotel where he remained for the rest of his stay!
Anna and Hannah were staying in similar accommodation to me, partly with a Pastor and his family in their little family-run church and partly in the hospital’s accommodation on the island with four other Slovenian students. They made up the only six doctors on the island. The doctor-patient confidentiality in PNG is not quite as rigid as the system at home; whilst they were doing the procedure for contraceptive implants they had a stream of spectators wandering in to watch or take photos. As an example of the sort of cases they dealt with a young boy was brought it who had fallen six metres out of a coconut tree. They were trying to pacify him, worried that he’d ruptured his spleen, but he didn’t seem to grasp the concept of staying still and kept trying to get up to go to the market!
They also spent some time in a rural aid post in a stilted wooden hut. Every morning a man would blow a conch to summon the families from across the local area and mountains to bring their children down for inspection. They would weigh the kids in a big sack hanging from the roof with the equivalent of supermarket scales!
They also similarly had interactions concerning witchcraft: A young lady called Sandii told them about her Uncle who ‘flew around the islands to eat people’. She was uneducated as apparently her Uncle had put a spell on her giving her a permanent headache and therefore preventing her from going to school as her dad owed him money. She’s now a yam farmer.
There’s a little flavour of their side of the PNG story.

Anna and Hannah with Trobriand facepaint.

Anna and Hannah with Trobriand facepaint.

Moving On

“The most beautiful moments always seemed to accelerate and slip beyond one’s grasp just when you want to hold onto them for as long as possible.”
― E.A. Bucchianeri

Image

Yes, sadly all good things do reach their inevitable conclusion. My last days in Auckland slid by pretty quickly. I’d definitely recommend the art gallery to anybody passing through the area. The museum is also fantastic – a long walk but definitely worth it if you’re at all interested in Maori culture. I’m now reunited with Kieran , Melissa, Anna and Hannah back in Brisbane. Anna and Hannah have been doing their medical elective in a southern, coastal region of PNG so it will be fascinating to learn about their escapades of the last six weeks; it sounds like they were pretty much up to their necks in the religious fanaticism! It seems like months since I left Papua New Guinea now. New Zealand has been such a whirlwind! Despite my initial complaints (mostly concerning the ominous feeling that I was stepping back into the English “summer” climate), I can see myself living in New Zealand. The juxtaposition with my time in PNG has probably contributed largely to this secure, ‘homely’ sentiment! In fact out of all of the places I’ve visited It’s probably the country I’d most like to return to, excluding visiting relatives in South Africa/Zimbabwe of course! A trip to the south Island will have to be incorporated into my travels at some point in the future. But enough of that for now…bring on Australia!

It’s Raining Again

“Not all those who wander are lost.”

–  J.R.R. Tolkein

Touchdown in Auckland, New Zealand, with a strange sense of déjà-vu from the British “summer”. Sounds like I’ve missed the worst of the weather, though. There was a tornado here around an hour before I arrived which actually killed a few people, according to the bus driver.  I found my way to the ‘Nomads Fat Camel’ hostel; I’m sharing a dorm with around 16 girls. It’s like university halls but with each small room having two bunk beds! I’m debating whether to go on the hostel’s bar crawl tonight. It’s tempting, but after waking up successively at 04:00 and 04:30 over the last two mornings my energy levels are pretty depleted. I’ve got another early start tomorrow so I’ll most likely just be anti-social this evening. I’m going to book to stay here for my last night when I return to Auckland, as it’s incredibly cheap, so that would be a better time to go out.

 After wandering about for a couple of hours I’m getting a flavour of the ‘hobbit’ fever that’s gripping the nation, with the film being released on the 12th. I think it will be unavoidable to make a trip to the cinema next week – it would almost be rude not to!