It has been another interesting week here in the tropical paradise of Papua New Guinea.
When I got up to make my breakfast this morning, I saw a big-ass rat run right across the living room. That disturbs me. I’m afraid that I have added “Buy Rat Trap” to my list of things to do this week. I cannot coexist peacefully with Bubonic-plague-carrying rodents.
Then when I arrived at work, the mains power was out. The backup generator had an oil leak so the building was completely without electricity. That meant that the electronic security locks weren’t working and no one could get in to their offices. So the whole building was incapacitated for a couple of hours, with dozens of us left hanging around waiting for the power to come back on. This is where simpler systems are often better in the developing world. Old fashioned keys would have done the trick – no electricity required. Fortunately, I had my laptop with me and could use the time productively.
I was very sad to hear yesterday morning of the passing of Margaret Thatcher. She was an icon of the 20th century and the first British Prime Minister that I can remember from my childhood. She was a rock during the Falklands Conflict (may they stay forever British!). She was also an outstanding role model to women the world over – becoming the first female PM in a country that thought they might never have one.
PNG has experienced more troubling news this week. The newspapers yesterday told of the beheading of two elderly women in Bougainville who were suspected of sorcery. This country has a long way to go in its struggle to bring its people into the 21st century. I saw this poster recently, which is part of the campaign to prevent violence against women. Clearly, there is still a lot of work to be done.
Today’s post covers one of the more frustrating elements of living in PNG – rubbish burning.
The practice here is for all unwanted to rubbish to be burned in the street. It causes a huge amount of the pollution in Port Moresby.
Worse still, invariably the piles of burning rubbish include plastic bags and bottles. That renders the smoke highly toxic.
But there seems to be absolutely no awareness here of the risks of breathing fumes from burning plastic.
If ever there was an educational campaign that is needed here, it is this one.
Of course, with no recycling here, it prompts the question, what would they do with all of the plastic? Not use it in the first place would be a great idea. Easier said than done of course.
The constant burning leaves large patches of scorched earth all over the place.
I spotted this Samsung Galaxy for sale in a Digicell store this week (Digicell is the largest mobile phone company in PNG, with about 4 million subscribers). The Galaxy costs 1400 kina, which is about $700. I was looking at the exact same model in the USA a couple of weeks ago and they were $700 plus taxes (prices in PNG include all taxes, like in Australia). What the hell is wrong with the world? I’m in a country where a watermelon costs $16 but a state-of-the-art cell phone is cheaper than the in the land of the free and the home of the brave? That makes no sense. The phone companies in North America have a lot to answer for. It seems to me that 44 watermelons should cost less than a fancy new cell phone.
Dunlop K26 running shoes are popular here. I had a pair as a kid, but I didn’t know that they still made them.
Continuing the shopping theme – this Weet-bix promotional truck has been set up in one of the upmarket supermarkets. I like how the sign says, “Aussie Kids Are Weet-Bix Kids” – even though there aren’t many Australian children in PNG. The budget didn’t extend to a PNG-specific advertising campaign.
Spotted in a potted plant at work. The sign says, “Please do not spit buai (beetlenut) into the plants”. One can only imagine…
I went for a swim this past weekend and I was amused to see a little boy coming racing up to the banana lounge next to me and plonk his ice cream down right there on the unhygienic chair.
He came back a minute later to retrieve it and continued eating merrily.
There was another little boy who was only about 3 swimming with his mother. When he told her that it was time to go, he refused and ran away from her. The portly mother did her best to catch the little tyke but the spry lad was too agile for her – ducking and weaving to avoid her grasp. Evidently, he wasn’t ready to leave the pool. The woman gave up the chase after a minute or two and resorted to dark looks and threats. I must have looked like an idiot because I was laughing my head off as all of this went on, which must have seemed odd to the people around me.
I saw this family walking along in front of me on the weekend in the middle of the day. I was touched by the obvious care shown for the infant – one carrying the child and the other sheltering it from the blazing sun with a parasol.
On Monday, I went to the supermarket and saw a pile of newspapers, so I bought one. I thought I was buying that morning’s paper, only to discover it was dated from September last year. Who sells 6-month old newspapers? I mean seriously?!? Why do that? And why have a huge pile of them?!
Anyway, the story on the right amused me – it’s about the local modelling scene and the headline reads “Niugini (New Guinea) Nice Cool Chick”.