HORNBILLS AND CROCODILES

Storms are becoming a regular feature of daily life in Port Moresby, now that the wet season has arrived.

Storm brewing over PM

I was walking through the streets of the part of town recently that is creatively named “Town”, and saw this remarkable feat of engineering. The fence was in danger of collapsing and was being propped up by sticks held in place by big rocks.

2013-02-03 - Fence Mending, PNG Style

Of course, a ‘stitch in time’ might have been a better approach. I walked back through there yesterday after the huge storm of the night before and discovered that the big bad wolf had been huffing and puffing.

2013-02-27 - Fence Repair - A fence too late

This lad was eating with his family at the same restaurant as I was the other day and I was amused by the fact that he was wearing a ‘Seattle Seahawks’ cap. . The seahawks are my local NFL (American Football) team and I was fortunate enough to see them play a few months ago. I never thought I’d see any of their merchandise here on a tropical island in the South Pacific though. I got the impression that this chap comes from a fairly privileged family.

2013-02-24 - Kid in seahawks cap

Not all children get such a good deal in life though. When I was out walking yesterday, I met a chap who sells goods on the street and he had a little boy named Teve [pronounced “tevay”] with him. He is the cutest little chap and he was very friendly. He told me that he is 4. However, he speaks better Pidgin than English so it was a bit tough communicating with him. His father explained that in PNG school is optional – there is no compulsory education. So whether or not young Teve gets the benefit of a modern education remains to be seen. I was left with the impression that he probably wouldn’t, but I hope for his sake that Teve’s future does involve some schooling. Apparently, before independence, the level of basic education here was quite solid and pretty much universal. However, some liberal decisions in the period since the 1970s have undermined the education system and left a large portion of the population illiterate, especially women.

2013-02-27 - Teve (Tevay)

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a day at the Port Moresby Nature Park – more commonly referred to as the Botanic Gardens.

Front

The sign provides a quick justification for fleecing tourists of twice the entrance fee on the grounds of income inequality. At least they are polite enough to do that. When I traveled around Egypt a few years back, they were quite unapologetic about charging foreigners more to enter tourist sites.

2013-02-09 - Botanic Gardens - Hornbill

The highlight of the park for me was the Hornbills. These birds are crazy. They are highly intelligent and very social. But best of all, they bounce when they walk. They hop like an awkward kangaroo. It’s the cutest thing ever. These big, friendly birds bouncing along like toddler on a sugar high.

2013-02-09 - Botanic Gardens - Papuan Hornbill - Info

The hornbill is found around the coast of PNG.

2013-02-09 - Cassowary - Best

The cassowaries were interesting too – they are large birds that exist in PNG and Northern Australia. They look a bit like emus but they are a little smaller and far more colourful.

2013-02-09 - Cassowary info

The collection of birds in the park is quite impressive. There is a huge aviary full of them. However, it’s hard to get close enough to snap a decent pic.

2013-02-09 - Botanic Gardens - Parrot Thingy

I also really enjoyed seeing the crocodiles.

2013-02-09 - Botanic Gardens - What a croc

Australians, of course, are very familiar with crocodiles, given that we wrestle them regularly in our back yards. In truth that’s kind of a stereotype. Actually, Australians are more likely to be seen driving a Toyota, stuck  in traffic sipping a latte on our way to “do lunch at that new sushi place”. Crocodiles rarely  feature in an average day.

IMG_6087

No feeding the animals though. “Noken givim kaikai” translates “No can give him food”.

2013-02-09 - Botanic Gardens - Big ass snake

I’m with Indiana Jones when it comes to snakes. They scare the hell out of me.

DCIM100GOPRO

But the wallabies are cute. They are smaller and more mouse-like than the Australian varieties that I have seen.

DCIM100GOPRO

The park is huge an wooded. The black spots in these trees are bats hanging upside down waiting for dusk when they go and ravage the mango trees. I looked up and saw a sea of them. It was like being in a vampire movie.

The only downside of all this lush vegetation was the mosquitoes. They were out in force and despite precautions, I did get bitten once. The only bite that I received was on the kneecap. What kind of dumbass mosquito bites someone on the knee cap?!? Grrr. No doubt I will contract Dengue Fever and die now. Though, hopefully I would know by now if that were going to happen.

2013-02-09 - Indonesian statue

There is a section of the park with an Indonesian theme that includes this intriguing statue.

2013-02-09 - Botanic Gardens - young couple

There were many young couples strolling around the park. I guess there aren’t too many hospitable places around town where one can just sit and talk without being accosted, so the park forms something of a sanctuary for humans too.

I sincerely hope that this chap received this “Tang” t-shirt for free in some kind of promotion. No man should ever have to pay for his Tang t-shirt.

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