28 July 2013

Still moving

I have now taken to dreaming about moving. It would appear that the last week has been too much for me. Last night I dreamed about cardboard boxes and tracking systems for shipping containers. Today I am one exhausted little bunny...

25 July 2013


It's Thursday evening, the removalists have gone and we're sitting on our lounge room floor, bereft of "things". Tonight I will sleep on a 3cm thick mattress, at $35 the cheapest foam thing I could find. I only need it for 2 to 3 nights so it didn't make sense to buy anything more. Actually it's the cushioning for an outdoor chair but hey it will do, even if my lower legs do hang off the end!


24 July 2013

Until we meet again

We spent last evening reading, every so often lifting our eyes from our books to ponder the white plastic wrapped furniture and cardboard boxes that surrounded us. I found myself badly distracted by all that this move meant. I considered all of our previous moves and the meaning of traipsing all over the globe with our "things". Some of our things have been from Australia to Singapore to Australia to Switzerland to Italy to Australia and now back to Italy. There is a lot to be said for crystal balls. Much earlier than normal we slithered into our sleeping bags and felt that incredible feeling of being horizontal and cocooned in a tube of duck down. Only campers and backpackers can truly understand that feeling. When we woke, we were met with a very crisp winter day. At 7.30am, the sun was up but the air was still frigid and into that late dawn Wridgways arrived with a twenty foot container. We have a morning of farewelling our treasure and trash...until we meet it again...


23 July 2013

On the move. Again.

Well, we're on the move again. At 7.30am this morning, we welcomed Wridgeways into our apartment. After days of discarding, organising and panicking, we were ready; tired but ready. As I write this blog post at noon, two men are still packing our treasures. And our trash. The sounds of tape being pulled off rolls and butchers paper being folded and scrunched have been my constant companions all morning. Each cardboard box has "Aust to Italy" scrawled on it. My blood pressure is up. This is the second last international move we make. The last one will be our return to Australia.


Truly blessed

Never before have I appreciated the blessings of my birth more than during the last year. Since I have been in Papua New Guinea, I have seen much poverty and felt a sense of "this is all there is". While the culture is traditional, tribal and intensely proud, it is also deeply superstitious and violent. I wonder about the luck I have been blessed with in my life. Last week, one of my team members said to me "You have done so much in your life". Her simple statement really hit me. Yes, I have done so much in my life...and all of it simply because of the luck of my birth. My birth parents, my birth place and my birth era. Middle class parents + Australia + late 20th century. This combination made for a life full of opportunity and without limitation. I have always had a car, a job, a home. I have travelled extensively, I have lived overseas in 3 different countries. I have had an incredible international career. I have been a dance sport champion. I have snorkelled, ridden horses and taken long distance treks. I have knitted, crocheted, read and cooked. I have loved, lost and laughed. I have rushed, watched and loitered. I feel truly blessed.


20 July 2013

Learn Pidgin with me!

This morning, we flew out of Tabubil on the "happy" flight!!! Yippee, we are in Cairns and I am slowly drying out. Literally. Here is a useful sign in the Tabubil airport for readers who want to learn Pidgin...



18 July 2013

No idea

This morning on the way to work I had an epiphany. The ultimate idea for a blog post had entered my head somewhere between leaving our carport and turning right to drive down the main road of Tabubil. Unfortunately, thats where it stayed. As I sit here with fingers poised above my keyboard I have utterly no idea what I was going to write about...

17 July 2013

No yarn

I am stuck in the jungle with no yarn. Life has turned pear-shaped for this little knitter! I am knitting a shawl which has come to a sudden stop at the end of row circa 150. However, there is hope. We "escape" on the Sunday morning "happy" flight. Soon after, my hoard of wool and I will be reunited.

16 July 2013

To stop or not to stop

Today, Stuart and I were driving down the main road in Tabubil when we came across some roadworks. A couple of "stop and go" men were managing traffic on each side of the road. As dutiful law abiding individuals, we correctly stopped and waited. And waited. And waited. Somewhere in our culturally sensitive expat minds we had accepted that this wait was typical of PNG. After many long minutes, we started to wonder why we had the stop sign when there were no other vehicles evident along the entire road. We looked a little closer. Both "stop and go" men were showing their "stop" signs. If nothing else, PNG teaches you patience...and acceptance...and to intervene if necessary...

13 July 2013

Soon to be free (again)

We have resigned. Again. The state of the PNG nation is not good. As we watch PNG regressing, these are worrying times. Government ministers continue to promote the removal of foreigners from their country and violence is increasing. Just this last week, one of my employees watched as his uncle was hacked to death by a machete-wielding highlander at a football match. The reason was not who was winning or losing the match but simply tribal warfare. There could have been any number of reasons. But the jungle drums don't toll for we foreigners. They are silent, eventually surprising or shocking us and always after the fact. The added worry of low metal prices means that our big hole in the jungle is not earning as much as it usually does. The company is bleeding and has been for many months. Drastic measures will be taken. Now may well be the best time to leave PNG...

Little blooms amongst the rocks

Tiny pieces of joy amidst the rocks...




More flora from the jungle

Before and after...



Rain rain go away

it has been raining for 24 hours. It needs to stop now. Every part of my body feels swollen, like I am a piece of stale bread left in the rain. My bones ache. My joints aren't moving as they should. I feel borderline ill. I am sure I smell of that horrid pungency associated with humid environments: sodden clothes stuck to damp skin. I am a piece of rotting vegetation.

08 July 2013

The beast

A few weeks ago, Management announced that Digicel, our internet provider, was to bring a shipment of new equipment to Tabubil via a Hercules aircraft. Yesterday and today were the dates for 2 flights into the town. Yesterday was a Sunday, so we walked down the hill to the airport at the designated time and waited, searching the sky for black dots and bright lights. After an hour of straining our eyes, the logistics representative came to tell us that the plane had not yet loaded at Port Moresby! So we struggled back up the hill in the intense heat of a midday sun and eventually arrived home with sweat-wet clothes and red faces. It took a shower and several hours before our faces looked like they might not explode. At midday today, a Monday, we tried again. When the plane was 5 minutes away, the logistics representative informed us of its impending landing. Since our office is close to the airport, we dashed across the road and got into position as close to the runway as possible, my ipad's camera and video at the ready. We squealed when we saw headlights in the sky because they were clearly attached to a plane much bigger than a Dash 8. I pressed my video button and followed the monster along the runway until it engaged all of its braking mechanisms. As it pulled alongside my viewing position, I got so excited that I forgot about the video altogether. Screaming through the noise at nothing in particular, it was several moments before I became aware of the ipad hanging limply in my hands, still videoing the pebbles at my feet. We stayed another 2 hours to watch the unloading and the plane's departure before returning to the office. I replayed the video several times that afternoon and it never failed to amuse me...


05 July 2013

Greed or food efficiency?

It is standard practice to bring as much food as you can back to Tabubil whenever you have a chance to fly out. For the last 10 months we have brought in 60kg of food every trip. The food ranges from meat, cheese and chocolate (in a freezer pack) to oats, flakes, relishes and nuts. All of these items are either unavailable at Tabubil, unreliably available or prohibitively expensive. So, now that we have resigned and only have 57 days left (including a 14 day rostered off period), we are faced with running this food down as efficiently as we can. This means avoiding simple meals such as eggs on toast and eating proper meals instead. It also means making lots of a meal so that we can eat leftovers for lunches instead of buying more sandwich fillers. I will keep you posted as we go...and provide more photos as the stock slowly runs down...



04 July 2013

Clouded in

Today we were clouded in from dawn to dusk except for a 2 hour respite in the middle of the day. When I got dressed this morning, my mine clothes had been cold and damp and my socks felt like they had been worn by a sweaty footballer. The mountains that usually surround us were unable to be found. I could have walked off the edge of the plateau and fallen 100 metres to my death. I got wet just walking through the mist. As I write, rain sits suspended in white air.

03 July 2013

Dangerous passenger

When I flew from Brisbane to Tabubil on Sunday, I brought my knitting with me. I had decided that the 10 hours travel time might go a little faster if I was able to have two distractions rather than the usual one. It made sense to read, knit, read, knit rather than just read. So I packed my cabin baggage with the usual detritus: earphones (to drown out the noise of the Dash 8), ipad, book and added my knitting. I achieved a successful transition through the xray and dust machines at Brisbane Domestic Airport and again at the Cairns International Airport. In the departure lounge, I settled into a hard and stained airport seat and delved into my bag to reveal a 50gram ball of purple Cleckheaton Country 85% pure wool and a set of 80cm circular needles, I was quickly in position for a few hours of relaxing craft. Halfway along my first row, a small elderly lady stopped in front of me. "I didn't know you could bring knitting needles on a plane! If I had known, I would have brought my own"! I told her that it simply had not occurred to me that knitting needles might be confiscated...but it appeared that they hadn't been this time. "Just enjoy it, love", she said, and moved on. As I watched her walk away, panic seized me and I couldn't finish my row fast enough! I thrust my knitting into my bag as quickly as I could, having realised that any particularly observant customs employee on his way to the toilet might yet confiscate my precious work...


01 July 2013


Today, for the second time in 6 weeks, we resigned. It feels great!!! Our "Freedom Flight" will take off from Tabubil airport in 8 weeks. Here's a sneak preview of the view from the Tabubil airport lounge...