“A well-spent day brings happy sleep.”
Leonardo da Vinci
The last couple of days have been spectacular. We trekked out to a series of waterfalls. I had to take my boots off after the first hour as the mud was coming up to my knees. The disadvantage of this is that my feet are now fairly massacred (I had to drown them in savlon for the night!): we were walking through the wild jungle and sliding down practically vertical edges down to the river and so on. It was taking ‘off the beaten track’ to a whole new level. To cross rivers one of the men would cut down a tree, for example! There were the most amazing wild orchids dotted around the place! I was also lucky enough to spot a rare PNG eagle! The water was so fresh that we drank it directly from the falls…really incredible.
To make a fire one of the men rubbed some bush rope (made of bark) against some firewood. He then picked up the fire in some more sticks and carried it to the middle of the group! Snacks consisted of pandanas nuts that the men cut down from the top of the palm trees – I have to admit, they’re pretty disgusting – all of the locals were peeling them and happily forcing them on me!
That night we stopped at a small village and the ‘big man’ offered us the use of his round hut. A fire in the middle of the dirt floor keeps the bugs out of the grass roof of the hut! We all gathered round to cook ‘Kau Kau’ (sweet potato) and tell stories. They served Phillip and I the most ridiculously enormous portions of food – easily enough for six people – no exaggeration! I tried to sneak some to the emaciated dogs (the poor things were so hungry that they were trying to eat the fire!). Unfortunately for me the people only spoke pidgin, but I’m getting the hang of it gradually! We slept on a bamboo mat on the floor soon after the sun set (no lights there, of course – you sleep with the sun!).
The next morning the local girls took me down to the river for a ‘was was’. It was a completely pointless exercise as after washing we had to climb back up the mountain in the thick mud – inevitably we arrived back much dirtier than when we left! The villagers then took us on a ‘short walk’ to their church (two hours!). I embarrassingly fell asleep – Mr Bean style – repeatedly nodding off and suddenly jerking awake with a flourish. We eventually found our way back to the road and Verena came to pick us up! What a weekend!