Saturday, March 17, 2007

Papuan dream

Having spent around ten years in Papua New Guinea I often get very nostalgic about the place. There are two lingua francas in PNG; melanesian pidgin (pidgin English) and Hiri Motu. I can get by in both languages, in fact tonight I talked at length to an ex-student from the Gulf Province from my primary school class of 1962. He lives in Kerema, the district HQ of the Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea. I am thinking seriously of visiting the 'Gulf ' and other places I taught at.
Most Australian media people and indeed the Foreign Affairs Department of the Australian government who had PNG as a colony for almost a century refer to that country as Papyouare New Gini., when it is actually phonetically pronounced Parpooa Niew Gini. Embarrassing!

I have kept in touch with several of the first class I taught in PNG and I long to go back and meet with them and see the village again. It seems that the village, the school and my aluminium single officers' quarters have been wiped out by a minor tsunami and the village has moved some distance inland. I guess that I won't see the woman who dropped off firewood every evening at my place.

The Gulf Province is the poorest province of PNG and has no tourist destinations listed on any internet site. It is however, one of the most culturally pure sites of PNG, probably because of the lack of tourists. The Gulf doesn't have pristine beaches and beautiful islands. Most of it is in the delta of the mountain rivers spilling muddy waters into the Papuan Gulf. Somehow I have a need to revisit the place.

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