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Let Us Build Together

Page 5

Tricia Natoli

Along with our luggage we were ushered to two utes and encouraged to climb in the back; no fancy comforts! After several bone-jarring minutes we arrived at the Travellers Motel, spotlessly clean but lacking a few of the usual amenities, not least air conditioning… the rooms were stifling. A quick wash and change into cooler clothes and we were off for an evening of entertainment. First stop the Aviators Club. Here we were greeted as honoured guests, shown to the members lounge and served with very welcome cool drinks. Speeches were made, then suddenly there was a commotion; beating drums and wild chanting began as a group of formidable-looking men in traditional feathered costumes entered the room and began a dance of welcome. The culture change was a little startling.

Next stop was the Institute of Technology to watch an environmental/political satire by some of the students. Although we could not understand the language, the message about Australian companies mining for gold and copper and the environmental damage caused was obvious, and we left feeling subdued and guilty about what our countrymen were doing, getting rich with little or no reward for the people of PNG.

Next day with spirits higher we set out to journey from Lae to Finschhafen. The distance involved is not great but it is an over-night trip. Watching the scenery go by was a sheer delight but soon darkness fell and we made our way to our bunks. Delicate sensibilities were shattered as thousands of cockroaches suddenly appeared, wanting to share our resting places. Sitting outside in the cold of the night seemed preferable, and dawn was never so welcome. At last we reached Finschhafen and met M. our local HfH liaison person. 

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