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Let Us Build Together

Page 6

Tricia Natoli

From the dock in Finschhafen to GauGau we travelled in the luxury of a minibus along a gravel road in poor condition, full of ruts and potholes. Our first sight of the village was of a hidden driveway with an entrance blocked with foliage. Words were exchanged between M. and the Elders, probably a formal request to enter and their response. The foliage parted to reveal grinning faces and we were admitted to the place that would be our home for the next eight days. This was jungle, hot and steamy.

Life without electricity, gas or running water is a very different affair to the often solitary lives we lead. No radio, television, telephone or computers means entertainment is communal singing and dancing. Our welcome to GauGau involved all the adult men, dressed in traditional costume dancing and singing to us. We were shepherded into a shelter specially built for us to use. Here all the adults who were not dancing had lined up to shake our hands, one hundred handshakes makes for painful hands!

Inside the shelter a table and benches had been constructed. There was one slight problem, the planks of the benches had not been nailed together so everyone had to sit at the same time, otherwise our bottoms would get pinched in the gaps. It was a vital manoeuvre but we wondered if the women watching us thought that it was a strange Australian custom.

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