JACK FRUIT

It’s official – Port Moresby is running out of water. The paper reports continued dry weather until November.

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As a result, water restrictions have been introduced in Port Moresby.

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Of course, they don’t affect the suburbs where the rich people live. That might have caused some political backlash for those involved. In Australia and Canada such systems are determined fairly and administered impartially. It’s part of what makes them wonderful countries in which to live.

Maybe the restrictions won’t be necessary for long, since we had some rain last night.

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PNG faces many challenges – crime and civil unrest probably being the largest right now. This article relates to a riot that broke out after the murder of a former Member of Parliament. It lead to a series of violent crimes.

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A series of high-profile sex offences has featured heavily in the newspapers of late. The incidence of sexual violence has not diminished at all in the wake of the introduction of the death penalty for such crimes. They’ve tried religion and that didn’t work, now they’ve tried the death penalty – with no impact. Here’s a novel idea: let’s try effective law enforcement. If people truly believe that they’ll be caught and face justice, then there is an effective deterrent. Hollow threats are ineffectual.

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In other depressing news, both HIV infections and cancer are up in PNG. HIV sits at around 2.5% officially, but is probably higher in reality. Cancers of the mouth are on the increase in particular due to the  consumption of betelnut. Most patients are diagnosed too late for effective treatment and even if they weren’t, there are very limited medical facilities available to treat cancer in this country. If you are fortunate enough to come from a country where that is not the case, be very grateful for what you have.

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On a positive note, Papua New Guinea’s 19 billion dollar investment in the LNG plant is on track. First production is expected next year. The LNG investment has caused an economic bubble in Port Moresby, driving up property and food prices. However, there is no question that it has created thousands of jobs and injected life into the economy.

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I went to a barbecue last weekend and there was no one competent to cook so they asked me to do it. There’s supposed to be a lot of smoke, right?

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And here is the result…

No, just kidding. This week I decided that I needed to eat a steak so I went to the Hog’s Breath Cafe. I asked for my steak to be ‘medium’ – it came out well done. I sent it back. The second steak was EXACTLY the same. I sent it back. This was the third – no trace of pink through middle at all. I ate it anyway because I was so hungry. I asked the waiter to show the chef the definition of ‘medium’ on Wikipedia.

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It’s a bit hard to tell from this photo, but I spotted this bus full of plants on the road the other day. Who fills a bus with plants? One can only imagine what prompted this.

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For the second time since I arrived here, I was warned to avoid downed power lines laying across the road. It would be an unfortunate way to die.

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I came across these health warnings in pidgin English on cigarette packets recently, which I found interesting.

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This week’s experiment in tropical living came in the form of the “Jack Fruit”. It’s a large, yellow, spiky thing – about the size of a watermelon.

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My maid guided me through the process of preparing it.

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When cut in half, it leaks out a juice that is very thick and extremely sticky. It would make quite an effective glue.

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As I cut it up, more and more of the juice leaked on to my hands. Then the fleshy parts began pulling off the fruit and sticking to my fingers. In the end I had to use a solvent to remove the sticky residue.

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There are little nuts inside, which are reasonably nice. However, to eat the rest of it, one is supposed to cook it.

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So I tried. The little sticks burned rapidly so I smothered it in oil to try to get it to cook without burning.

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Then came time for the taste test. At first I was skeptical.

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Then unconvinced.

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In the end, I resigned myself to try it.

The verdict? Jack fruit sux.

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I’ll have to ask around and find out where I can get myself one of these yellow skirts like the men wear in Bougainville.

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And the winner of best photo from the papers this week goes to this one – where two women in Kokpau had a public brawl over who owned their husband. It degenerated into a public hair-pulling contest, as these things so often do.

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And I finish this post, with another beautiful sunset in this tropical paradise.

Until next postcard…

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