Keith's blog post 4
30 July 2011 | Kavieng, and Manus Province, Papua New Guine
We spent all morning exploring Pamlette, then went back to the boat to have lunch, promising to meet them at Pam Island after that. We took the dinghy to the island and were greeted by every kid in the village. There are two villages on the island with a total population of about 200. We were also met by two of the village leaders, Peter and Popson (who is the school superintendent). We were escorted to the steps of their two-room schoolhouse where they gave us an official welcome, mentioning that this was a first for them, and expressing appreciation for the things we brought as gifts. The entire village was crowded around to observe. We gave them school supplies, stickers, puzzles, an atlas, a book on weather, some sports items, and t-shirts for each of our seven hosts from the morning.
After the ceremony, Peter and Popson took us on a tour of the entire island. This island was filled with people who spoke decent English, had built many of their houses with wood, which is rare in these remote areas, had a rainwater collection system (supplied by the Red Cross), and had a nice school building and a well-built Seventh Day Adventist church. One house, which belonged to Peter's sister, was in such a beautiful location that we commented that we wouldn't mind coming back and hanging out for a week. It was near the top of the island, had a nice outdoor deck with a view of Pamlette island, the beautiful light blue water and the reefs: a world class view!
As we walked through the village, people who we had already met would come by and either say something to us or not say anything at all, but just walk with us for a while. Several gave gifts: Manjula received more than one traditional beaded headband which the women wear when they dance; they gave hand-woven purses to Manjula and to Karen who's picture I had shown them on my camera; and, sensing Steve's comfort with his masculinity, he was given a man's bag! As we left for the boat at the end of the day we let them know we'd be back once more in the morning to say our goodbyes as it was time to move on.
The next morning, Steve and I took the dinghy to the village, bringing a few more things with us. Again, they all came running out to greet us. As we were saying our goodbyes, Jack, our lead guide the day before, came over to us, holding something, and said, "I think you left this here yesterday." He handed me a newly made canoe paddle. In the blade of the paddle he had hand carved "Endless Summer" on one side, and "Pam Is. Manus PNG 2011" on the other. It was an absolutely incredible gift! What's more, that morning the school children had gathered up an enormous amount of fruit (papaya, pomelos, oranges, lemons, coconuts, etc.) and vegetables (assorted root vegetables, chili peppers, greens, etc.) for us to take with us. They told us how much they enjoyed our visit, that we were their friends, and were always welcome on their island. It was an amazing experience! One of the things they said as we were leaving, which struck me as a wonderful attitude with which to live was, " we don't have much, but what we have we want to share." If we could only all live with that philosophy!
So we loaded up the dinghy with what was somewhere between 100 and 150 pounds of produce (!!) and headed back to Endless Summer. Little did we know how important that produce would be as soon as the next day.