25 September 2008 | PNG
We were shown a better anchoring place by Alois, Chief of Mater Village. The new place was next to some steep cliffs and rocks. It quickly became very crowded and soon we had more than 100 people of all age groups peering down at us and following our every move, breaking into loud cheering when one of us would jump into the water to cool off.
Highlight of my day was walking up the beach in Marangis, keeping my promise to return and being greeted by some familiar faces, who were so genuinely pleased to see me. It was a most rewarding time and made all the hard work getting here very worthwhile. On the beach as we arrived was Bill and his family, who spent a lot of time chatting and showing me around last year and also Lena and her parents and siblings who I spent a day with in 2007.
The morning was spent being shown around the High School by the Head Master Ben and gaining an understanding of his school's needs. Basically a lab for each of the science subjects, a science teacher or 2 and basic resources such as paper, pens, pencils etc.
As I write this we can hear a constant drumming from the local village and we have just had a small pod of Dolphins by the boat. There is no moon but millions of stars ? Irene is making Pizza ? Jeges and leila are chatting to some of our constant stream of visitors in the cockpit.
This has been a very special day for me. When OceansWatch was still in it's infancy and I was still trying to define what we could do I did a yacht delivery from Brisbane to the Philippines. I arrived in Madang, PNG where my 2 crew managed to wind themselves up so much about the dangers in the Philippines that they jumped ship! This left me stuck in Madang with no crew. Well, it took me 5 weeks to replace them as many potential crew find PNG intimidating. During that 5 weeks I was befriended by a lovely PNG guy called Robert Puis who took me to visit Karkar Island. Karkar is an active volcanic Island but has not blown since 1979, although it still smokes every few weeks. I stayed in the village of Marangis for a few days and whilst there met with some lovely people and learnt a lot about the needs of the community. After my visit I promised Robert that I would find a boat and come back to Karkar to see how we could help. So here I am, I made it ?.
Unfortunately Robert is not able to be with us this visit but I have met his brother, who is helping us with introductions to the community, some of whom I will have met last year. Marangis village where we are anchored tonight has many Bahai and relations of my old friend from Whangarei Jamie Hancock have spent time here so I am welcomed ? On board today is a Bahai from New Zealand called Michael Vaughn who is going to live here for a few years. We gave him and his water tank a lift from Madang. En route we visited remote Bagabag Island but it was a little to rough to stay in the open anchorage. After Bagabag we stopped at a tiny Island for a quick cooling snorkel.
We anchored near Mater village, just a mile from Marangis. Leila and Jeges went for a dive and Irene and I went kayaking. I had a recollection of a lovely little bay where the villagers came to wash and collect fresh water. We paddled along the coast and I was thrilled to find it again. There were 10 or so women there who were very excited to meet us, the people here are just so friendly. We were invited to join them for their evening wash in a very warm stream that poured from the rocks just above the high tide line. They invited us to stay in the village with them but we declined and invited them to the boat in the morning instead. We kayaked back feeling uplifted by the friendship we had been offered. Tomorrow we hope to meet some of the community leaders and will start our work here.
As the sun starts going down our friends from Mater Village light their fires on the beach and settle down by the night to keep an eye on their new-found sailing friends.
Today was Internet catch up day for me but Irene and I also had a very good meeting with Rebecca Samual from the LMMA (Local Marine Management Area) network. Rebecca outlined what LMMA were doing and we told her all about OceansWatch. Rebecca is very keen for us to visit for longer next year and to work with her in Madang Lagoon and at Manus Island.
½ day off ? Whilst Jeges and Leila went for a dive Irene and I visited a butterfly farm. We took a local truck and walked for an hour into the jungle. The butterfly farm was very interesting and we were thrilled to see the spectacular bird wing butterfly, Ulysses on our walk back. Ulysses has gorgeous bright blue wings that can be seen flashing from the jungle canopy from 100's of metres away. In the afternoon we had a very good meeting with The Nature Conservancy followed by the head of the provincial fisheries department.
Independence day in PNG so nothing was open. We were advised by the tourist information centre that there we would be dancing at a particular village so went and found nothing happening whatsoever! Oh well it was fun to see the village. Instead we went to a nearby resort to look for a guy who had been emailing me about environmental issues but the Dive shop had closed down so all in all it was a rather fruitless day ?
Today was frustrating as Irene and I spent ages tracking down local NGO's to find that most of them had taken the day off as it was the day before Independence Day. We did find someone at WWF though and had a very interesting chat about their programs and OceansWatch.
Arrived in Madang, 14 months after my last visit. A few hours prior to arriving we were greeted by 30 Dolphins.
En route to Madang
En route to Madang
Typical PNG !! Irene and I went to a meeting we arranged last week to tell stakeholders what we had done in new Ireland. No one turned up! In PNG you have to learn not to make this sort of thing mean anything. People forget or decide to take a day off or the car packs up, this is Pacific time, relax ?