Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday 12th August 2011

Wednesday 22 June  - Friday 12 August
It's been ages since I wrote on here.  So much has happened so I will try and write it all up.  I really need to record what is happening more often so that I don't forget anything. Well, I flew to Cairns to get Monique for the school holidays.  We came back for about a week and a half of just chilling and spending a heap of time together.  Steve had to fly to Lihir for a week for work so Mon and I just giggled and giggled all week and watched movies of course as that is what we do on the holidays.  The girls at the movie shop know us well and remembered Mon even though she has only been here a couple of times.  Just goes to show how many movies we buy.  Scary.  We had a great time making up new names for everyone we came across.  The fellow who lives in one of the units above complained about how our car was parked so he was called Jerky McJerk Jerk.  Mon was in one day Grumpy McWhinge Sulk and Chatty McChat Chat.  So funny.  We were coming home
from Vision City and there was a man who was using a whipper snipper on the side of the road, so we called him Snippy McWhippy Whippy.  Mon and I were laughing so much that I could hardly see to drive.  She reckons I drive like a real local now, all over the road.  Hilarious.
When Steve got back from Lihir, we all flew to Cairns for 2 weeks holiday.  We headed up to Innot Hot Springs for a couple of days so that Steve could get in the hot pools which he loves.  While we were up on the Tablelands, we looked at a heap of properties, and found a little 5 acre place out in the bush 10 minutes from Ravenshoe.  So we put an offer on it and it was accepted.  We are now waiting for the contract to finalise.  Steve is exciting about getting a tractor with all the accessories.  I want a huge vege garden and some chickens and pigs.  One day we will be able to live there full time and can build or put on a fully solar powered house and can
live off the land.  Dreams.....................hopefully not. 
Once Monique went back to school on the Monday afternoon, Steve and I flew down to Brisbane and hired a car to spend a couple of days in Toowoomba with his family.  We had a great time catching up with everyone and especially enjoyed spending time with Lachlan (Steve's little nephew) who is 3 years old.  Such a character. 
We then headed back to Brisbane so that Steve could go into head office for a couple of days to see the bosses there.  We met up with Tiarna who had moved down there looking for work (which she found on the first day) and friends who used to live in Mount Isa.  I spent one day with Dad and Rhonda and Yolanda while Steve was working.  Each night we went out and explored and found new places to eat.  Our first night in Brisbane, we booked into a motel and then headed out for dinner.   We took a couple of wrong turns and ended way out from where we wanted to be, but we found this great little Italian cafe to eat at.  The waiter was just like Manuel
from the Faulty Towers series that used to be on years ago.  So funny.  He kept us entertained with his funny antics all through the meal.  Who knew that you could have dinner and a show at a cafe. 
We headed back to Port Moresby on Wednesday 20th of July and had a couple of days at home before Steve had to fly up to Lihir again for a week and a half.  As I can't go out at night while Steve was away, I made sure that I spent heaps of time out during the day keeping busy with Buk Bilong Pikinini and other activities.  I started walking at the yacht club again in the morning which is a good thing.  And as I (not sure if I was foolish or not) put up my hand to coordinate the fundraising for BbP with Shivani and we had a Teddy Bear Picnic Party scheduled for the 14th of August, we had a heap of people to contact to get prizes and food/drinks so it was a very busy time.   
One of the special things I did was go on a boat trip out to Munubuda Island with the All Nations Womens Group.  I wasn't at the meeting when names were drawn out to go on this trip but as a lot of ladies pulled out, an email was sent around offering for others to go.  So we went.  And it was on the brand new huge BSP boat.  This is top class, full luxury cruising.  25 of us (including the captain and 2 boat boys) went on this huge boat.  We weren't supposed to take that one out but the one we were going out on had a leak that morning and so we got the good one.  Yay.  It was a spectacular day.  We swam, snorkled and ate at the island, and then cruised the
whole harbour on the way back.  There is nothing better or more relaxing than spending the day just chilling on a boat.  Gorgeous.
Another special day was when I spent the day with Lesley.  First in the morning we went to the Ela Beach Markets with Lilian.  I got a few new items to decorate the house.  Just a few.  Ok, maybe 4 things.  Steve still shakes his head over how many musical instruments I have collected here.  So I got a wood carved flute, a little wooden pestle and mortar which is traditionally used for grinding beedle nut and the coral to make lime to use with the nut.  But I love banging it as it makes a great drumming noise.  I also got myself a funny mask to go on the wall and another painting.  I thought the painting was of a duk duk dancer, but it's not.  It's a dancer from
another part of the country with another name.  I got the artist to write on the back of the painting what it was so that I can look to remember.  As I am typing this, the painting is on the wall above a sleeping Steve so I can't get it down to tell you exactly what it says and or course I can't remember.  After the markets, we took Lilian home and went back to Lesley's place for lunch and an afternoon of sorting out donated stuff for BbP.  It was a great day.  Nothing too exciting but really enjoyable.
Steve phoned me to say that he was coming back home from Lihir on Thursday 4th of August and had to go up to Tabubil on the 5th for 6 days.  Did I want to come?????  Hello.... you don't need to ask twice.  The tickets were booked and I went and paid for mine so last Friday we flew to Tabubil.  Steve had to work all weekend but I met up with Heather who had visited POM at Christmas with Jenny and offered to show us around if we ever got up to Tabubil.  So there we were.  I hired a car for a ridiculous amount of money (when there is no competition, they can charge as much as they like) for the weekend and Heather, Israel (her husband), Kayla (little daughter) and a couple other family members went for a drive to Kiunga.  Kiunga was 136kms away over a mountain range.   First though, let me describe Tabubil.  It is a little mining town on top of a mountain near the PNG/Indonesian border.  Some days you can't fly in because there are too many clouds and the pilots can't see the ground to land.  It rains nearly everyday and records up to 14 metres of rain a year with is just incredible.  It is a truly beautiful place.  It feels as though you can go outside and touch the clouds.  There are a couple of big rivers surrounding town but due to years of mining, they have been well and truly ruined.  Such a sad thing.  The little bits and pieces of streams and such like coming off the mountain are lovely though and we saw some amazing
places.  The town is run by the mine and is a very safe place to walk around.  It is very disciplined and lots of rules but it works for them.  About 98% of the food is brought in so it is all very expensive and the range of fruit and vege is very sad.  I don't think I could live there just for that reason alone.  Trying to have a big fruit and vege diet is just not possible.  But other than that, it is amazing. 
Anyway, to our trip to Kiunga.  We set out with the dual cab with Israel driving, Heather in the front passenger seat with Kayla on her lap.  Kayla is about 2 and just didn't want to get in the back with me.  I was in the back with Claudie who is about 10 and Michaelin who is 13.  In the back of the ute was Paul (Israel's brother/cousin) and VuVu (a neighbour who I found out is related to Cedric  the PNG Parts Manager - Steve's boss).  VuVu is a gorgeous big fellow about 30 at a guess with dreds in his hair and a huge bushy beard.  So off we went.  I, of course, had forgotten my camera, again.   So as nothing was open at that early time, we decided to
get some batteries for Heathers camera in Kiunga and take photos all the way back.   The road was a wide gravel road that is kept in really good condition by the Ok Tedi Mine (who controls Tabubil) due to all their freight being trucked up from Kiunga.  It was a little rough but not too bad by any standards.  But I felt sorry for the two boys and sometimes Claudie or Michaelin who were in the back.  I would never have coped with traveling all that distance without the padding on the seats.  But I was told that they were used to it and not to worry.  OK.  All along the road at every kilometre there is a white board stating what distance to Kiunga.  It starts at 136km just outside of Tabubil and continues all the way.  So when people talk about swimming holes or little villages, they are referred to as 115 or 27.  (There was a gorgeous waterhole and picnic area at 115).  For the first half of the trip, the landscape along the road is wet tropic rainforest.  Huge sago palms and majestic big trees.  Spectacular ferns and little flowers.  So beautiful.  Because we were travelling along the top of the mountain range for most of the first half, you could look out and almost touch clouds while driving along.  It was rather overcast on the way to Kiunga so we couldn't see much in the distance.  The second half of the trip was
drier and heading downhill.  Kiunga is situated on the edge of Fly River which brings in huge cargo ships offloading freight etc.  It's a dusty fairly dry little town, very much an industrial looking town.  We sat on the river edge eating lunch and watched the little canoes and boats heading out to the other side of the river.  We then collected some bits and pieces and headed back to Tabubil.  As we bought some batteries in Kiunga, I now was able to take some of the 158 photos I ended up taking on this trip.  Twice a day, a heap of trucks leave Kiunga to go to Tabubil and if you get stuck behind the convey, you have to stay there until they stop.  Unfortunately, we got stuck behind them for most of the journey home.  But there was some funny results from this.  Because the dust was being kicked up so much and we were staying close so that we could pass if they stopped, by the time we did stop for a rest, Paul, Michaelin and VuVu were completely covered in dust.  It was such a funny sight that I took some photos.  Anyway, along the road there was a village which is a mission called Rumjini.  There is a little hospital there as well as a small landing strip for planes if needed.  Lots of well maintained houses and it 's very peaceful.  It lies along a river so we stopped to have a look.  Very nice.  Another village was Ningerum which was about half way between the two towns.  It is where there is a prison for those who commit crimes in the area, and there seemed to be quite a number of locals around too.    There were other small villages,
but I didn't get their names.
That night at a bbq held by a couple of the Hastings Deering boys, I was given the opportunity to try chewing beedle nut.  No.  It's not for me but I was fascinated with the whole process, so I was given instructions on it.  Very interesting. 
On Sunday we drove to all the places around Tabubil.  First to a man made pool/creek called Yuk Creek.  It is pronounced Yook, but I took a photo of the sign because I was at this stage horrified by the state of the rivers coming down from the mine, and feeling bitter that a man made creek had to be made in such beautiful and lush countryside and then to call it Yuk.  Pretty appropriate, although it was rather lovely.   Then to the two villages above the mine, Bultem and Finalbin.  The people who live in these villages are the landowners of the mine so get house built, water pipes and electricity supplied as well as money paid for the use of the mine.
Okmanga Tunnel is a kilometre long tunnel though the mountain.  This area is where the hydropower station is situated.  The river here is wild and gorgous in some places, but dammed up and directed elsewhere in others.  Fascinating place.  7 corners village is across the bridge over the Ok Tedi River.  Last rain season (I'm not sure if there is only one big rain season that lasts all year or just a heap of little ones) the road leading to the bridge was washed away, so the bus deposits residents on one side, they walk across the bridge and are met on the other side by another bus.  Laydown settlement is the little village right on the edge of Tabubil.  The workers of the mine and contractors etc all live in the main part of Tabubil.  Some other locals live in Laydown as they can't get or afford accomodation in town.  While the houses in town are really lovely, the Laydown settlement is very much a patchwork of little sheds or shantys made up with whatever is found around. 
While we were in Tabubil, there was a big fight over something and someone burnt some of the houses in the settlement down.  All sorts of punishment ensued by the police and even some of the flying police force (who are feared all over the country) came in to settle it down.  This doesn't happen very much as the police and mine keep a really close eye on everyone. 
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, everyone was at work so I was able to spend the days reading and wandering around town.  I met up with Heather for lunch on Monday and Wednesday and was invited to a sewing class on the Tuesday with some local ladies. It was great to get out. 
Thursday was spent mostly travelling or waiting to travel back to POM.  We finally arrived back at 3.30pm so I dropped Steve home to rest while I picked up Shivani to do some Bbp stuff for the Teddy Bear Picnic on Sunday.  Today was also a full day organising the picnic.   Dad and Rhonda are arriving on the plane tomorrow for a week and a bit, so I am looking forward to showing them around a bit.  So that's it for now.  Stay tuned for the next episode.  Jokes.......

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Monday 6th June  - I woke this morning with sore sinuses and a sore ear from swimming yesterday.  I thought my ears were used to swimming up here now but not apparently.  I think it must be the new pool.  Anyway, no water aerobics this morning, just resting at home, then lunch with the book club I have been invited to.  The book that we had to read for this lunch was called Guernica by David something - will find it later and put it in properly.  It's not a book I would normally have picked up because I just don't like
reading or watching war stuff.  It's too depressing.  But this book was fantastic.  It's set in a town in Spain called Guernica in the early 1900's , and follows a family over the years.  Very interesting.   And I couldn't put it down until it was finished.  A bad habit of mine.  So lunch today is to discuss it and find out what is the next book.  I am very excited.  And then I have to go to HD compound and resort the books that we put together for Alotau library, as I remembered when we originally sorted the books into boxes, we
hasd multiple copies of some and wrote new library on all the boxes, so we have to mix up the boxes a bit more than we have.  It shouldn't take long hopefully.  All good.   Steve is flying out to Lihir this afternoon for another week.  I will be very glad when they finally employ a parts manager for up there so that he doesn't have to fly there so often but I'm told that this takes time with getting visas etc.  Yay.  Steve Lock n load flies out tomorrow also to go to America to see his wife for a month so for the next couple of days, it's
just me in this unit.  I have to make an effort to get out each day or I will go crazy.  I won't be able to go out at night now that I have to drive up Lawes Road to get home.  It's not worth the risk.  Oh well, keep the days busy.
Tuesday 7th June - Friday 17th June
Sick, sick, sick.  I haven't really been anywhere or done anything as I just couldn't be bothered.  My head has been pounding, my nose running, my ears hurting and no energy.  When I dragged myself to the doctor, she said that I had an infection in my sinuses, and have been on antibiotics ever since.   Does flem have babies?  There is just so much and it doesn't matter how much you blow or cough out, there is always more to replace it.  Yuck, I know, but that has been my thoughts of late.   Maggie came in one day to do her usual magic on the unit, and she looked after me all day just like a mum would.  It was very comforting.  Steve has been dragging me down to the sauna to try and sweat this awfulness out, and Shivani has been on my case about eating more meat to boost my immune system. 
One thing worth mentioning about this two weeks.  Maggie and I were sitting eating lunch one day and there was a huge bang.  We walking around investigating and discovered that the brand new dryer that had been installed only two weeks before, had fallen off the wall, brackets and all.  Interesting.  After laughing hard and putting it upright (and using it again), I phoned the maintenance guy to casually explain what had happened.  Such a funny thing.
Saturday 18th June
Today I am feeling almost human again.  Steve and I went out in the morning to get a few bits and pieces, drove around etc and then spent the rest of the day watching movies.  Lazy but good.
Sunday 19th June
We went to the yacht club to look for a car.  Since moving out of the HD compound, I have had to drive Steve to work everyday.  Steve said he is a bit scared about having to wake me up each morning.  He jokes that he has to stand back and throw things at me or else he could be in danger from a wild angry woman.  Funny.  But we found a car.  It's a 1996 Black Honda CRV.  It is older than what we were initially looking for but it wasn't expensive and it is in good condition.  We have to go to the bank tomorrow to get a bank
cheque as (surprise, surprise) we still don't have internet banking hooked up. 
Monday 20th June
This morning I picked up Ririn and we went to the Botanical Gardens to have a look at an area for our Buk Bilong Pikinini Teddy Bear Picnic that we are trying to get up and running.  The space is spectacular, so now it's down to the organising side.  Lots to do.  Afterwards, Steve and I went to the bank to get a cheque for my new car.  We met Phill at the yacht club after work, gave him the money, got paperwork signed and it was done.  I was the owner of that lovely car.  I drove it back home which in itself was a process. 
To get through the gates to our new compound, you have to have a special sticker on your car or permission to enter.  Well I didn't have a sticker yet as we still hadn't organised it, so Steve drove through first, told them I was following and that it was our new car.  Fun times. 
Tuesday 21st June
Today, I got up early to pick up Maggie before heading down to the yacht club to meet the BBP bus of Six Mile kids and librarians.  We were going to Fisherman's Island with Miss PNG (Rachel) to talk to the kids at the school there about the "Go Green" program that Rachel is heading.  It's all about looking after the environment, making sure that rubbish is picked up and the ocean is looked after.  So after finding numerous life jackets for everyone, we boarded the POMSAC boat and went out into the harbour heading for the
island.  Most of the kids had never been in a boat before, so there were some anxious looks, but we arrived safely.  The island village is very tidy and it was great to be able to walk through.  A lot of areas in Port Moresby are not safe to walk through like that, so it was nice to have that experience.  We met the community leader and the paster, who keep a close eye on the behaviour of everyone.  It's a great place, and very safe.   So we headed through the village to the school where there were over 100 kids aged from 6 to 16 waiting for us.  We organised some activities for the kids to do and spent time talking to everyone.  Mr Moko who is the head teacher has been on the island teaching for 14 years.  He was very interesting to talk to about island life and the school.  One of the older teachers had been teaching for over 40 years.  Incredible.  There is no fresh water on Fisherman's Island, so other than the few water tanks there,
all water had to be bought from POM.  And it is apparently very expensive.  Sometimes I wish I had unlimited funds or influence because with just a few more big water tanks, that wonderful little community would be able to support themselves.  They have access to heaps of fish which they sell in POM at the markets to get rice and veges to take back.  The people are so very friendly and welcoming, you just want to hug them all.  When we first arrived, there was two men sitting in a boat on the water edge cutting up a
huge shark they had caught that morning.  They pushed their boat over to ours and let everyone get into it and up on the shore so that the kids didn't get wet.  So generous.  There were pigs in cages and chickens and dogs roaming around.  So very peaceful and after the smoke filled Port Moresby, the air there was sensational.  When we left, the community leader gave us a bucket of fish to share.  It is their traditional gift to visitors.  The fish was very fresh, caught that morning.  So when we got back, we were able to share it amongst everyone who went.  Agnes, head librarian at Six Mile, had never been on a boat either and couldn't swim, so she was really nervous about this trip.  She made me promise weeks ago to go with her as I could save her if she fell in.  She is so funny.  But on the way back from the island, she was feeling so comfortable, that she moved to the back of the boat and was waving her hands in the air and hooting.  It was so much fun to see.  Some of the children were not so convinced.  A lot of the people who live at
Six Mile are from the highlands and most have not had a lot to do with the ocean, so this trip was a real experience for them.   Ali was waiting with the bus when we got back and I took Leanne and Nara home before heading home myself.  Exhausting but exhilirating.  Maggie had done her magic on the unit (I really am going to struggle with housework when I get back to Australia because Maggie does such a great job and I haven't had to worry about it - very nice) so I drove her home and then met Steve at the yacht club so that he could give me the sticker for my car.  Yay, now I can get in and out of the gate without hassle.  We got some chinese takeaway for dinner and spent the evening chilling.  I'm flying to Cairns tomorrow morning to get Monique for the holidays.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday 5th June 2011

 Sunday 22nd May - chilled out watching a bit of tv, went to the aviat club for the joker draw at 2pm, Steve excited about the 3K SPbeers, went swimming, early dinner
Monday 23rd May - quiet day, gave biscuits cooked over the weekend to head office staff, Tetkos and guards.  Everyone loved them.  Lealah and I went out to pay the hitron internet bill, brian bell where we bought a qld singlet and coffee mug for state of origin on wednesday, groceries from boroko.  Maggie tried sushi with us at lunch.  she enjoyed it.  It was her first try.   Jen flew in from Brisbane on her way up to Lihir for the week, so I took her out to get some bits and pieces, checked her into the Gateway Motel, waiting till Steve was finished work, drove to Era Doreena and showed her around the unit there with Steve lock and load, went to have drinks and dinner at the yacht club.   Steve had oysters and luksa soup, Jen had the seafood linguini and I had fish and chips.  It was ok.  Dropped Jen off at the Gateway and headed home.
Tuesday 24th May - woke up with really sore throat, need to get some medicine to relieve it but don't have a car due to Steve lock and load borrowing it as his car was in for a service.  he needs to drive home at lunch.  Lesley and Shivani picked me up and we went to the Hohola School to drop off papers and ask if they needed anything done, then to the childrens ward library for the same thing.  We didn't stay today for activities but will be doing something on thursday.  Then we went to the Antinatal clinic at the womens section of the general hospital to help with the blood pressure and weighing of all the ladies.  Great to talk to everyone, and it helps the nurses heaps.  They have been so busy lately they haven't been able to get lunch and lots of ladies have been sent away.  But today the nurses will get lunch and many ladies will be seen.  It was cool.  I hope to do that again.  I'm spending the afternoon finishing the front of my first quilt.  I just have to get the padding and the backing material to put it completely together and then it's for Maggie.  She said she is going to take it with her to Goroka when she goes up in July for her Womens Church excursion.  Excellent.  Steve came home at lunch to say we had been told to move into Era Doreena this weekend.  So we have a busy weekend planned.
Wednesday 25th May - woke up really sick.  the flu had taken hold.  I turned off all aircons and sweated it out all day.  I still didn't have a car so I just wandered around the compound if I needed to get out and about.  The house next door is nearly complete, so Leisa had a cleaner in yesterday to do the cleaning.  We went to the Yacht Club for dinner and to watch State of Origin.  It was a great game and a great night.  Queensland won which made it sweet.  We were pulled up by the police on the way home so it was just as well I was driving because Steve had way too much to drink, but they never check anyway. 
Thursday 26th May
When I woke up this morning, Steve popped back from work to tell me that Steve lock n load had been "rolled" this morning.  Scary.  He runs everyday and was running down along Ela Beach and into one of the more unsafe areas of POM when three men approached him with a gun.  He had to give them his shoes and they searched him for anything else.  He wasn't carrying anything so they let him go to run barefoot back home.  He was very lucky as it could have been much worse but it still shook him up.  I'm not sure where he is going to run now.  I drove to Shivani's place where we met up with Lesley and went to Lawes Road Library.  We spent two fun filled hours there colouring in helicoptors, making hats and hairy bread with the kids.  (Hairy bread is the same as fairy bread with hundreds and thousands except we are doing the letter h this week, so it was called hairy bread instead).  Fun times.  We then went to the office briefly and then to Shivani's where I got my car and went home.  Maggie was working again today because I had her put all the stuff back in the other house ready for new tenants.  She had almost finished by the time I got back, so after checking with her that everything is done, we locked up the house and she left for the afternoon.  I spent the afternoon reading and resting to hopefully finally get over this flu.  I tell you that I am sick of being sick.  I never get sick in Australia, so I'm hoping that my body gets used to the place real soon, cause I'm over it.
Friday 27th May - Craft group in the morning with Lealah, lunch with the ladies at craft at the chinese restaurant at Vision city, then spent the afternoon with Shivani, before picking up Di and Steve and heading to the Sp Brewery for the All Nations Womens Group tour.  We had a quick tour of the brewery before heading to the Brew Kettle.  The Brew Kettle is a little pub inside the brewery that you need an invitation to get into, on a Friday night, free beer for the guests.  We had a fantastic night trying all the SP beers, talking to all sorts of people and then heading to the yacht club with Shivani and Praneel for dinner.  Fun times.
Saturday 28th May - we were up early to pick up the HD Auditors to show them Ela Beach Markets.  It was interesting to see how excited they were to be there and looking at all the art available.  Cherry in particular was funny.  We had to keep telling her to stop waving her money about.  Karen Richie helped with the driving around, and bought a gorgeous mask for her wall.  She also ordered another one the same from the guy.  I got another Kundu drum.  Love my musical instruments - even though I can't really play them.  It's all good fun.  Afterwards, we went back to the Crown Plaza so everyone could pack up and check out, then to the airport to drop the auditors off for flights.  We now have an invite to be shown around Malaysia by two of the girls.  Lovely.  Definately going to do that.  We then headed to get some diesel for the car as the red light was showing much to Steve's disgust.  I forgot to fuel up again.  The ususal fuel station at Hohola was closed, so we headed to the one on Waigani Drive.  So funny.  At the usual fuel station, locals are not allowed in to sell stuff to the customers as they are coming in, but on Waigani Drive, anything goes.  So while waiting to be served and while being served, we saw people wandering around with sunglasses, steering wheel covers, religious posters, crabs, bananas, and to top it off, a baby deer.  Where else in the world could you be offered a baby deer while being fueled up.  Classic.  We grabbed some KMC for lunch and headed home to meet Maggie and her boys who were helping us pack up and move.  When we got here, there was half a pallet of stuff.  It ended up taking 5 big car loads to get everything over.  And it is 5 flights of stairs to get down from the carpark to our unit.  OMG.  Give me 6 months and I'll be incredibly fit just from going up and down the stairs.  Anyway, we got everything to the new place except for food which we were going back for in the morning.  Everything was piled into a room and we just pottered for the rest of the afternoon, putting things away.  We can't fully unpack until Steve Lock n Load moved out next Tuesday as when he does, we will move into the main room.  But it's all good. 
Sunday 29th May - we slept in (well, I slept in and Steve waited until I woke) before heading  back to HD to get the last of our stuff and finish tidying the house.  We got back around lunch time and then spent the rest of the afternoon pottering and chilling.  It had been a big weekend moving but the view is so worth it, and Steve seems much more relaxed here. 
Monday 30th May - I went to the Aviat Club at 9.30am today to go and try out water aerobics.  It was great and I am definately going to do it regularly.  Lesley has been trying to talk me into going to water aerobics for ages and I finally caved which I'm glad I did.  It's gentle enough that elbow and shoulder joints are able to work out without aching as they normally do.  Afterwards, I went back home and continued unpacking for the afternoon.  I'm feeling a bit down and usually spent time hiding at home when I feel like that.  I think it's just the move so hopefully I'll feel better soon. 
Tuesday 31st May - Today we had to meet at Airways to get the two book containers ready to be shifted on the weekend to Hastings Deering.  It was a big and dirty job as all the boxes had to be stacked low, and all the new books had to be put into the containers out of the shed.  We did it fairly quickly due to so many ladies turning up, so we headed to the cafe afterwards for a coffee or cold drink.   It was a lovely morning.  I headed home afterwards because Maggie was there and I was also expecting the maintenance guys to come in to fix some bits and pieces.  I now drive and get Maggie and drop her off in the afternoons on Tuesdays and Fridays.  Because she lives in a not so good area, I have to really be sure to "drive with purpose" and not stop anywhere.  Love my 4wd.  You just go and drive over whatever to make sure you are safe.  I have had to replace two tyres now (which is an experience in itself) but that is ok.  So once I had checked on Maggie and got her lunch, and the maintenance guys had been, I raced over to Shivani's to pick her up and bring her back to my place.  We spent the afternoon cooking some authentic indian food for dinner.  Yum.  Shivani is such a great cook and she has grinded up some special spice mixes for me to use in different dishes.  I need to spend a bit more time with her to learn more.  Steve and Steve Lock n Load really enjoyed the meal as did I.
Wednesday 1st June - water aerobics again this morning.  The day was overcast and spitting rain and the water in the pool was rather cool but it was nice and the exercise is good for me.  I spent the afternoon at home again, still trying to unpack.  It's not moving real fast as I have to wait, but slowly slowly.  We headed to the yacht club for dinner and had a good time.  This month, the company doing the give aways at the Yacht Club is Telecom who are promoting a new mobile phone.  It's called "Citifone" and the ad says "say yello to citifone".  It's cute.  Anyway, Steve won a mobile phone, hat, shirt and pen.  I gave the hat, shirt and pen to Claudie and the mobile phone to Maggie so that I can contact her to tell here when i am heading to pick her up.  When I went yesterday, I came to the bus stop area and there were masses of people everywhere and I couldn't see Maggie, so I just kept driving, turned around and went back.  She was there so I stopped, but it's risky.  I am now able to call her to say I am nearly there, and to stand forward so I can see her.  Yay.
Thursday 2nd June - today I went to Shivani's place at 8.30am to be there when Lesley arrived.  We were going to the 6 Mile library to do the hats, helicoptors and hairy bread activities.  It was a really great morning and the kids enjoyed it.  We had also taken along a new lady, Louise, who I met at the Brew Kettle the previous Friday.  She was interested in seeing what was going on, so she could decide if she wanted to work with Buk Bilong Pikinini.  She has been here for 3 months and has been a teacher for many years.  Lovely lady.  Louise had a great time so maybe, we have another member.  We also went up to the General Hospital to the library there to drop off some stuff to Nara.  Afterwards, we went to Lesley's house briefly (it was my first visit to her place - really lovely which a great view over Ela Beach) and then to have some lunch at the Ela Beach Motel.  Then to a printing company to get the ends of the paper rolls for the libraries, and then back to Shivani's place where I got my car and headed home for a quick nanna nap before going to the yacht club for canoeing.  The fellow (Brendan) who did the training this afternoon was one of the best I had training us.  He really concentrated on teaching us how our bodies had to be the one working rather than our arms, as there is more power in our torso.   But I must be getting much better at it, because I'm not aching as much anymore afterwards, but it is so great.  I'm really enjoying it. 
Friday 3rd June - Today, I had to drive Steve to work, pick up Maggie and drop her off at the unit.  The security is very good here, and you can't just drive in.  You have to have a special sticker on your car, or be a guest of one of the residents.  It is very strict which is a good thing because it means we are really safe in here.  The guards are great.  I had to wander up to let in the Hitron guys in so I had a really good chat with a couple of them, and I left a bag of biscuits for the guards another morning.  Anyway, I have to pick up Maggie, drive her back, punch in the code at the door to get in, go down 5 flights of stairs, then use the key to get in the unit.  Great hey.  Then I told Maggie what needs doing, and what to not worry about as we still haven't unpacked properly, then headed out to pick up Lealah and go to craft group at the aviat club.  We learnt another new pattern and had good chats.  It was a great morning.  I dropped Lealah back and went home to sleep as I had a bad headache.  Afterwards, I helped Maggie do a bit of her sewing, then when Steve got home, we drove her home, got some chinese takeaway and a bottle of wine, and went home for a quiet night.  Lovely.
Saturday 4th June - I had to be at the Hastings Deering compound at 8.30am today to wait for the book containers to arrive.  I'm not sure why I had to be there as I didn't know where they were going, but after consulting a few people, I found Emos was the man to talk to and he told us where the containers were going.  They arrived safely, were put in a temporary position until the shed is ready, we opened them to check all was ok, and then left to do a bit of grocery shopping, went home and chilled for the rest of the day. 
Sunday 5th June - I woke up late this morning, so after breakfast, Steve and I headed outside to check out the compound.  We hadn't had a chance to so were looking forward to it.  There is a great walking track that goes up and down the hill with steps and bridges etc.  There is a brand new gym and lap pool.  And two pools and a sauna.  So we did the walking track and then I jumped in the pool while Steve spent time in the sauna.  Then I sat on a lounger in the shade and read for awhile, while Steve swam.  Then upstairs for lunch and napping.  It was a really nice day.  In the afternoon, Steve went to the gym for an hour while I cooked dinner.  Lovely. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday 21st May 2011

Saturday and Sunday 7 & 8 May - We chilled out all weekend because Steve not feeling well from the mexican night on Friday night.  JR dropped in around lunch time on the Saturday with two huge mud crabs for steve from the Malara Markets.  They were 10K each and really big.  We had only ever had the smaller crabs bought off the side of the road before and they do not have a lot of meat.  The muddies had heaps of meat but they were really smelly from the mud.  Yuk.  So I made Steve cook them cause I wasn't going near them.  Plus they were still alive and I can't do it.  All the times I had cooked crab for Steve and Monique, they had been frozen for a week or so and not alive.  These suckers were tired up with grass to make sure they didn't get you with their claws but were still very much alive.  The biggest pot we had wasn't really big enough so Steve cooked them one at a time.  Boy did it stink out the house.  And the mess made while taking all the meat out of the crabs was horrendous.  It  took 24 hours of airing out the house before it went back to normal.  But Steve really enjoyed that crab for a number of meals.  I had tuna sushi - tuna from a tin.  It was fantastic.
Monday 9 May - Some of the big bosses from Brisbane were visiting for the annual png managers meeting today and tomorrow.  All the managers went out on a night cruise drinks and dinner.  Lealah and I stayed at the yacht club and had dinner and chatted.  It was a great night, quiet but good, but I got a cold from Lealah that night and pretty well spent most of the rest of the week resting to get over the awful cold. 
Tuesday 10 May - Steve had meeting all day at Ela Beach Motel with bosses and then we headed to Yacht Club again for dinner with some of the fellows still in town.  I had woken up with a head cold and did nothing much all day.
Wednesday  11 May - There was a committee meeting at Nessa's for BBP which took up all of the morning.  We have quite a few plans for fundraising now and it will take some work to get them up and running, but hopefully they will work out well.  Afterwards, Shivani and I went to the BBP office for a meeting with Ali and Francesca about the following week Goroka trip.  I then came home and picked up Lealah and some of their friends who were visiting from Rabal to drive around doing the tourist thing, buying some art work and things.  It was a lovely afternoon.
Thursday 12th May - I was to meet Lesley and Shivani at the general hospital to go into the BBP library in the childrens ward, but when I went into the carpark, the guard
would not let me in and as I was still not feeling well, I turned around and headed home.  They phoned to say they were on their way to the office, so I turned around and went there to meet them, and they got held up at the hospital talking to Mara's parents (Mara was a little girl who Lesley and Shivani had gotten to know in the library over a couple of months - she died on the Monday and Lesley in particular was very upset about it - she spent a lot of time trying to track down the parents to find out when the funeral would be held) and after waiting for half an hour talking to Francesca, I just went home.  When Lesley and Shivani had
finished what they needed to do, they came to my house and we chatted for ages.  That night we met up with Shivani and Praneel at the Lamana Motel for the Indian Buffet.  It was an amazing meal and we left fairly early as we were all tired.  We plan to go to Daikoku with them later on. 
Friday 13 May - Lealah and I went to craft group and had a great time.  We seem to be finally accepted into a close knit group because we have been going consistantly.  A couple of ladies were talking about their book club and I mentioned that if there was an opening, I would love to join.  Last time I said that, I was told that there were a heap of people on the waiting list and that was that.  This time, Marilyn and Debbie said that they would get in contact with me to let me know when and where, so we'll see what happens.  After craft, Steve and I went to lunch at the Aviat and not long after lunch when Steve had gone back to work, I got a phone call from him to say that him and Steve lock and load would be picked me up in 5
minutes.  Apparently Hastings Deering has rented a 3 bedroom unit in a compound called Era Doreena and JR had offered for Steve and I to move in there so that Steve could get away from work.  We went for a look with Steve lock and load because he had all the stickers and keys etc to get through security.  Era Doreena is located off the top of Lawes Road (a notorious road known for being "rolled" which is local speak for having a gun pointed at you and your car being taken - I go through there at high speed, right over the huge pot holes and all because I just don't want to slow down) right at the top of the mountain, overlooking the ocean.  The security for the compound is particularly good and some of the
buildings are really new.  The unit available was one of three on the bottom floor of one of the older buildings, with three flights of stairs to go down from the carpark - yeah for exercise, not.   It was a lovely unit with a small balcony off the loungeroom where you could sit and look out.  The main bedroom is huge and has an ensuite.  There are two other toilets, one in the living  area and another near the other two rooms.  The compound has 3 pools, a sauna, a brand new gym with a lap pool and a really great walking track up and down the side of the mountain.  We came back home and discussed and decided that we would take the unit, so Steve let JR know, and it's ours.  Yahoo.  We move in around the 8th of June.  We have to get another car for me because Steve will need to drive to and from work now but that's all good.  We are both really looking forward to moving in, and another advantage is that the compound is literally around the corner from where Shivani and Lesley live.  So great.  It will also be good for Steve to get away from being in such close contact with work and those he works with for a real break. 
Saturday 14th May - Les and Lealah, Steve and I went to the Malara Markets which are in town here.  We were told that it was safe enough as long as the fellows were with us (I had already been there a couple of times with Maggie and her husband but had only ever looked at the vege end.  We were heading there looking for the huge mud crabs that JR had bought for Steve the previous weekend.  We parked  and walked through the vege section to the seafood section.  They have just about everything and its so fresh.  We spotted a really lovely looking red emperor which we got for 25K and 2 more huge crabs for Steve at 10K each.  We went back to the vege section and got some bits and pieces.  As we were walking back
we came across some unusual brazil nut looking things.  I asked the lady what they were and she said garlic (or so I thought) so I got two to take home and try.  After I bought them, she picked one up and showed me to eat it raw which suprised me but I had a go and it tasted like part nut and part coconut.  Delicious, so I bought a heap more.  I was thoroughly curious about them being garlic though and when I mentioned them to a couple of others, it was explained that they are "galup" nuts not garlic.  So funny what the wrong
translation does.   After the markets we drove all over town looking for a large saucepan to cook the crabs in as the saucepan we had at home was too small and Steve had a hard time last week cooking them.  When we got home, Steve cooked up his crabs and I sent him outside to get the meat out of them after the mess he made the week before.  When he had done that he came back inside and had to gut and scale the red emperor so that we could bake it whole in the oven for the bbq dinner. I raided my herb pot and got some basil, lemon grass, vietnamese mint and tarragon.   We cut it all up and put it inside and all over the fish along with a heap of lemon, salt and pepper.  It looked amazing.  An hour or so later we pulled it out and tasted it.  YUMMMOOOO.   Definately going to do that again, but I have to have a go at the gutting and scaling myself now.  It's a new challenge.  Steve said maybe next time we buy a gorgeous looking tuna and try that. 
Sunday 15 May - We went driving around to get a few groceries and some bits and pieces for Steve going up to Lihir next day.  Steve was running out of his medication, so we asked at the chemist at Vision city whether they had the medication there so that we could organise a script from a doctor.  They did have some and we were able to get a months supply without a script.  Amazing.  I have to take packets of his two other medications to them and find out if they have them.  I have heard that if you know what you are talking about as far as medicines are concerned, you can get just about anything over the counter at the chemists.  Rather incredible and it saved Steve flying over the Aust for a quick visit to get some new medication.
 Monday 16 May - Steve woke me up early this morning to drive him to the airport.  He is going up to Lihir for a week this time and is expected back next Saturday.  I spent the day pottering around, doing a bit of cleaning, reading etc.  I ended up stayed up late to start Tiarna's  quilt because for some reason I got motivated late in the afternoon.  So at some late hour I had three panels ready to join together.  It looks lovely and I really hope she loves what I have done.  We'll see.  I then quickly packed for my trip to Goroka in the morning.  Both of my phones were not working - my png one was turning itself off all the time and my aussie one wasn't charged - so I had a terrible sleep overnight worried that I would oversleep and miss the plane.  As a consequence, I didn't sleep much at all.  Oh well,  that is fairly usual the night before an early flight for me.
Tuesday and Wednesday 17 & 18 May- Francesca, Shivani and I flew to Goroka to have a look at the BBP library there.  We had a short flight and arrived mid morning, were picked up by the Bird of Paradise bus which took us back the the Hotel.  The BBP library is situated on the side of the Hotel, so after checking in, we went downstairs to the library.  I had met Arnold (Head Librarian) when he was visiting POM earlier in the year, so I said hello to him and then met the two assistant librarians, Sam and George.  George is a very good looking young man which we had been told about before going up, and also a great addition to the library as he loves his job and you can see he enjoys working with the kids.  Sam was very quiet, seemed to be everywhere making sure the kids were safe, and Arnold was great at keeping the group under control.  Shivani and I spent time with two of the groups (they have to split the day into 3 sessions due to the huge numbers of children wanting to go - they have over 300 come most days) doing craft activities, singing, dancing etc which was fantastic.  This left Francesca time and opportunity to talk to the librarians about any issues, problems and paperwork that needed to be addressed.  It was a great day.  The afternoon session had a heap of school aged girls who come for help with their homework and access to books for reading.  It is so great to see such enthusiam for reading.  There was one little boy that stood out for me called Daniel.  He was at the first session on the Tuesday and at the session on the Wednesday morning also.  He was one of the bigger children there, but was such a little sponge.  He followed me around repeating everything I said and loved spending time with us.  I taught them the nursery rhyme "Butterfly, butterfly, fly away home" because we made butterflies with them and then flapped all around the room.  The room that the library was in up there is huge compared to the ones in POM.  It has cement walls and tiled floors and a male and female toilet which is so different to the ones at home.  Very lucky and lovely that Steamships were able to let BBP have that space.  Steamships is one of our major sponsors and own the Bird of Paradise Hotel where we stayed and where the library is located.  In the afternoon, we walked around town, buying fruit and vege from various street sellers.  This was incredibly special for us as it is not safe to walk around POM like that, so we took advantage of it by talking and chatting to lots of people.  We had a mandarin, a guava, a kowkow that had been roasted in a moomoo (don't you just love the language - a kowkow is a sweet potato and a moomoo is an underground oven). We saw a huge tarp that had been laid on the ground and covered in green coffee beans which were being packed into huge bags to be sent to the coffee factories where they would be roasted and packaged for importing.  We stopped the next day at a factory and bought a packet of Goroka Coffee that had been packaged in front of us.  How fresh is that.  Amazing.  The people doing the packing of the coffee beans were happy to tell us what was happening and how they were green
and the shells still had to be taken off the beans.  Fascinating stuff.   This packing was done in the street, so very natural.  I loved it.  We then headed to the markets which we were told were not so good in the late afternoon, as most people had packed up, but we looked around and were astonished at the variety of food available and the prices were so cheap.  Unbelievably cheap.  So we made plans to go back early the next morning.  We were allowed to take back fruit and veges on the plane so we took full advantage of that.  So did everyone else, because when we got to the airport the next day, everyone had the potato sacks of stuff to check in the same as us.  There were also bunches of bananas (without a bag, just labelled like all the bags) checked in - so funny.  Oh, I forgot to mention on our flight to Goroka, the fellow sitting next to me was taking his brothers body back home so that they could have a funeral.  We discovered when we departed the plane that there were in fact 2 bodies in the plane.  Francesca was a bit freaked out about it because she thought that was bad luck.  Luckily she didn't know about it until after we had landed so she was ok while flying.  Anyway, we spent about 2 hours wandering around, looking at all the billum bags, jewellery and artifacts that were for sale all over the place.  I bought a tiny mudman head, two clay whistles and a clay face.  I also negotiated to buy a gorgeous green, brown and cream billum bag that had 4 pompoms on the handle.  Very cool.   We had dinner at the hotel and then went to bed early as we were all tired, except that we spent ages talking - well mostly Shivani talked - boy she can talk, way more than me, and she is so funny and sweet, so it's all good.  I think I ended up falling asleep middle conversation at one point because I was buggered.  Goroka is up in the highlands, so it was quite chilli overnight.  I wore jeans and a jumper to dinner and long pjs to bed.  We woke early the next morning and took the bus to the markets.  We told the driver, Jimmy, to come back in an hour and proceeded to buy so much stuff.  First we got a potato sack with a handle to put
everything in, and then I got potatoes, kowkow - 3 different types, cabbage, baby carrots, beans, peas, strawberries, guavas, mandarins, lettuce, tomatoes, sugarfruit,  ummm....  I can't remember what else, but I spent about 30K on the whole lot.  So cheap and so fresh.  I also got a bunch of everlasting daisies off a fellow which was my grandmothers favourite flower.  The baby carrots were sold in bunches of 3 for the grand total of 10toya which is about 3 and a half cents Australian.  Unbelievable.  Once we had everything we wanted, we took the bags back to the seller and a man sewed up the bags ready for the plane.  Love it.  We got back on the bus and headed back.  I think Shivani bought just about everything, and we were really worried about having to pay excess baggage, but luckily she had a destinations card (membership of Air Niugini) and was able to take more.  We scrapped in by half a kilo.  After the markets, we had a session at the library, packed up and checked out, lunch and then a wander up the street before Jimmy took us for a quick tour of town  and then dropped us back at the airport.  We arrived back at 6pm on the Wednesday night.  What an incredible, amazing, fantastic trip.  I plan to organise a long weekend trip back there
with Steve and do some of the tours out of town a bit. 
Thursday 19 May - I had a sleep in this morning after my exhausting trip.  I messaged Leisa and Lealah to see if they wanted to go shopping and have lunch for Lealah's birthday.  I bought some material for Lealah to continue her quilts, and we had lunch at the Ela Beach Motel.  I had a vegetable curry which would be one of the best meals I have ever had.  It was so good.  Lealah and Leisa both had burgers which they said were also very good.  While we were there, we spotted a heap of nationals dressed up like mud men doing a traditional dance for one of the conferences.  We stopped for a look.  Afterwards, we headed to Vision City so that we could get a few groceries and I needed to get a new phone to replace the one that kept turning off.  Steve had told me to get a decent phone this time instead of the awful one I currently had.  So I got this jazzy little flip top thingy which I don't  know how to use but I'm sure I will eventually.  We came home after that and I read and slept before heading to the yacht club for canoeing with Lesley and Theresa.  We went out on the six men boats which I'm so glad about because you are less likely to fall out of them.  As usual, there was a strong wind and as it was overcast, it got dark quickly so we were treated to a spectacular view of Port Moresby city in lights.  So very beautiful.  I'm not as sore tonight so hopefully that means that my arms are getting used to all that rowing.   Dinner when I got back was vanilla icecream with fresh strawberries, pawpaw, sugarfruit, banana and apricot juice.  YUM.  Then I had a cheese, tomato and onion gluten free toast.  YUM AGAIN.  What a great dinner. 
Friday 20 May - Lealah and I went to craft group in the morning which ended up going for most of the day.  One of the ladies is leaving to return to Australia, so we had lunch at the new Chinese restaurant at Vision City.  Vision City is filling up really fast at the moment.  They now have a Brumbies, Hogs Breath, the chinese restaurant, a japanese restaurant, eventually a Donut King or something like that, and there are rumours of a cinema going in on the third floor.  Lunch was lovely and we ended up finishing about 2pm. There was a new lady at craft group.  Her husband works for exxon and they have just arrived from 5 years living in Nigeria.  The range of experiences that people here have done is really fascinating. Hopefully she will be there next week so I can chat and get to know her a little better. After lunch I had to race to pick up Shivani for a meeting at the BBP office. When Shivani got in the car I handed her my new phone for her to make the necessary changes such as a decent ring tine, the correct time etc.  I love having someone who knows how technology works.  Luckily the meeting was short and sweet, cause I was feeling exhausted from not sleeping properly the night before, so after dropping Shivani home, I went home and had an early dinner of cheese and tomato toast - gluten free of course - and icecream.  Yum.  I love icecream.
Saturday 21 May - Steve came home today.  His flight was delayed for 45 minutes so he arrived at 9am.  We got a few groceries at Boroka and then headed home.  We had to go out again after lunch because I needed some eggs and flour.  I was cooking jam drops, coconut macaroons and gingernuts this afternoon for everyone in the head office on Monday.  My weekdays are getting so busy, I am running out of time to do any biscuits lately.  Anyway, so we went down to SVS Harbourcity for the ingredients.  At the bottom of the hill, I showed Steve were a truck had lost control on Wednesday and rolled over the opposite side of the road and through the carpark of SVS.  There were 5 fatalities including the driver and it had made a hell of a mess.   While looking around, I spotted the man who had sold Steve his huge bow and arrow.  He was on the side of the road holding a really large and elaborate spear.  After we grabbed some groceries, we went back, found him and bargained for it.  We got it for 500K and it is well worth it.  Steve spent the drive home making me giggle by talking about racing around the compound chasing the cats with his bow and arrow and spear.  I told him he wasn't allowed to do that until I had got hold of a video camera, cause it would win hands down on Funniest Home Videos.  At home, I made my biscuits, gave some to the guards, took the clothes off the line, went swimming for ages and chilled a bit.  Fabulous day.  Dinner was icecream with strawberries and sugar fruit.  Luckily the tub of icecream has just about run out so that I will get back to some vegetable eating. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Saturday 7th May 2011

Friday 22nd April - Saturday 7th May
The last two weeks have been very busy.
Buk Bilong Pikinini - Shivani, Leanne and I have spent heaps of time going to the libraries of Six Mile, Lawes Road and the General Hospital.  I've taken a stack of photos of the kids which I will add to this blog as soon as I can.  I love spending time with these kids because they are so excited about learning to read.  Last Thursday we spent two and a half hours at the hospital doing an activity with the kids.  We laughed and laughed and laughed.  A lot of the parents of the children came over and were colouring in also.  Such fun. 
I have been invited to fly up to Garoka to visit the library up there.  Garoka is in the middle of PNG.  I have been told that it is a great place to visit and to take clothes for cold weather and an extra bag to bring back the local fruit and vegetables.  Apparently the markets up there are spectacular, so I will be visiting them.  It's very exciting. 
Canoeing - I have been really slack about going to canoeing. It's been a long time since I last went so I filled out my membership form and went down on Thursday afternoon.  When I got to the yacht club, I discovered that most of the rowers were going to do a some onland training.  I didn't feel like doing that (because I am generally a very lazy person) so 3 of us went out in the single canoes.  I was doing very well for ages and then I fell out.  Not once but 3 times.  The water was very rough from the strong winds and I really struggled to get back into the boat.  I have since decided that I need to do lots of weights on my arms to build up that upper body strength.  It takes a lot out of you to have to haul yourself out of the water and back into the canoe especially when if you don't balance correctly, you just get tipped out again.  I have bruises on my arms, legs, upper stomach area and the skin ripped off two of my fingers.  I was totally exhausted by the time we got back.  At one stage, while I was out trapped against the rocks and feeling so very tired, I almost gave up and stayed there but with the constant encouragement from the amazing trainer, I kept struggling against the wind and current and made it back to the dock.  Anyway, I'm feeling a bit scared  of the single canoes now but that just means that I have to try them again.  I'm really hoping though that we will be using the big 6 men boats next Tuesday when I go again.  I have
to fill out another membership form though as the one I had done, got saturated when I was dumped out.  So funny.
Luckiness - I have already said about winning the key draw at the Yacht Club this year.  So we make sure to go down each Wednesday night for the draw just in case because you have to be in it to win it.    Anyway, last Wednesday night,  Remington Technologies was at the club doing promo work and they had a heap of prizes to draw out.  All you have to do is put in a business card to enter.  Well, Steve won this huge printer.  Such a laugh.  What a lucky time we have had here so far.  And we are loving it.  Because the printer is too big for us to
use here at home, we have decided to donate it to the Buk  Bilong Pikinini office as they don't have a printer.  I know that they will put it to good use. 
Our House Renovations - we have been watching the renovations happen slowly in our house.  They were supposed to be finished yesterday and I had lined up Maggie and her sons to come in over the weekend to do the cleaning and for the boys to help move the big furniture, but that has had to be posponed because the bathroom is not finished yet.  Hopefully next week. 
Baking - As I have since arriving here, I have been baking all sorts of muffins, cakes and biscuits for everyone here in the compound.  The workers who are doing our house, the guards at the gate, the office staff in the head office, and on occasion, if there is enough, the staff down in the branch office.  Well when I was driving one afternoon back into the compound, the guards asked me to stop and they gave me some of the local peanuts.  So cool.  They said it was thanks for the biscuits etc.  Now the peanuts are usually picked so they are still green or something because they are not the best tasting but I threw them into the oven to roast and they turned out great. 
I baked coconut macaroons  this week and I have had two requests for the recipe.  Very cool.  I also baked a loaf of bread for one of Shivani's friends who is gluten free also, and she really enjoyed it so I sent over the recipe and a packet of xantham gum as you can't get it here.  I brought a heap of packed up from Australia so that I have some. 
Birthday Party - Leisa who lives next door to us had her birthday yesterday. So her husband organised a mexican birthday party for her last night in the haus wing.  We had all sorts of mexican food and some lovely margaritas.  Steve and a couple of the other guys got into the lick, sip, suck routine with Tequila.  OMG.  Steve and Les were soooo drunk. In the end they were doing the shot, sniffing salt up their nose and squeezing the lemon in their eye.  Lunatics. I ended up getting Steve to leave at 11pm.  He could hardly walk but it was a fantastic night.  Lots of fun.
In the last two weeks while driving around, we have spotted two cars who lost their number plates.  Now in Aust, you have to go to the Dept of Trans and get a new one.  Not here.  You get a piece of cardboard or wood around the same size and write/paint the number on it.  And then you have the new plate.  Very funny. 

Ummmmm.......well I can't think of what else to write about for this fortnight.  So stay tuned for next time.........

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday 21st April

Monday 21 March - Friday 15th April
I flew to Brisbane on the Monday morning and was picked up by Dad and Rhonda.  I stayed at Dad's place for 2 days catching up, checking out the Patchwork Factory Shop that is three doors up from the house and gotsome material for a quilt project for both Tiarna and Monique, and celebrated Dad's birthday which was on the Tuesday.  I bought him a stack of eggplant and Beetroot seedlings for his garden and we went to the fabulous Italian cafe in Gympie for lunch.  Yum.  I had the roast vegetable wrap which was pretty spectacular while Dad and Rhonda both had some really good salads.  I checked out the rhubarb plant that I had given Dad in February, and it was huge.  It had been a little seedling when I first saw it and now it is about 40cm high.  Can't wait to be able to pick some stalks and cook them up.  Rhubarb and icecream.  Mmmmmm..........Rhonda gave me an Italian Gluten Free Cookbook and I decided to give making the pasta a go.  Yum.  What else is there to say.  It was so good.  Fresh pasta cooked with onion, garlic, baby spinach and a bit of bacon, olive oil and chilli. (I feel I am returning to my original track of always talking about food - but what can I say, I love it) Yolander and Sylvia (Syl had flown in from Cairns that morning) picked me up on the Wednesday morning (23rd March) and we drove to Bundaberg, giggling at each other all the
way.  It's amazing how stupid and hilarious the conversation gets when my sisters and I get together.    A few hours later, we arrived in Bundaberg at Grandad's house where Tamara was waiting with Grandad. Tamara had driven down on the weekend and had helped get the funeral organised and looked out for Grandad.  We spent time with her and Grandad, had some nice meals, and giggled a lot more.  We checked on Bernice (the neighbour) who was getting the food ready for the following afternoon after the funeral when everyone was
going to go back to Grandad's place to catch up and celebrate Grandma's life.  All Wednesday afternoon and night, relatives arrived from Coffs Harbour/Armidale area for the funeral.  We hadn't seen most of them since Mum's funeral nearly 20 years ago, so there was much conversation and catching up to do.  The atmosphere was quite light and cheerful even though we were there for Grandma's death, but she had been sick for ages and it was a relief almost that she wasn't suffering any longer.  I have this image of Grandma and Mum dancing around in a daisy field, happy to be together after such a long time.  The funeral was held on the Thursday, Patrina (our cousin) read the eulogy and did a great job.  The afternoon was very long making sure that there was drinks and food for everyone, but at about 5pm we were able to clean up the tables and chairs and go inside for dinner and an early night. Tamara and I left early on Friday morning as Tamara had to get back to the Gold Coast to pick up her kids from school that afternoon.  She dropped me off at Esther's place where I spent the night.  We had lunch at an incredible cafe on Sunrise Beach.  It was tiny and furnished with all this mismatched secondhand furniture and plates, glasses, cuttlery etc but  it really just worked.  The food was incredible (some very excellent gluten free options too), the atmosphere fantastic and the company excellent (Chrissy had joined Esther and me and we chatted for hours).  We had dinner at the Sunrise Beach Surf Club which was nice and I was able to catch up with a Mount Isa friend Linda who had moved to Bundaberg and was visiting her daughter at Perigian Beach.  It would have been great to go for a walk on the beach before bed, but I was exhausted, so we just went straight to bed, where I slept well and was fresh and ready to go again the next day.  We woke up early to drive to Caloundra to take Jed to his Rugby Union game.  His team won.  Jed is such a changed boy from when he was in Mount Isa.  He is loving his school and has been accepted by his peers at school and at the football club.  He has lost heaps of weight from playing so much football and is so confident now.  Such a difference from hating school in Mount Isa because of bullying and not really fitting in anywhere.  He now has heaps of friends and is really happy.  I love seeing that.  After the game, Esther dropped me off at the Landsborough train station so I could go to Roma Street in Brisbane.  Once there, I hired a little Nissan Micra and headed up to Toowoomba for the night to see Steve's family.  I hadn't seen them for ages, so it was great catching up with the goss on what was happening, and letting them know how everyone was going at our end.  Steve's nephew is so cute.  He is two and a half and is so clever.  I left the next morning (Sunday  27th March) to go back to Brisbane and stay with Yolander before flying back to POM on Monday.  My plans to stay in Australia until Monique had finished school for the term had changed for a couple of reasons. 
1.  I thought it was only 2 more weeks of school, not 3 weeks - when you are not looking at dates etc everyday, you can get so confused about when things are happening - yes, I can hear some of those thoughts saying that I forget most things and that is right, but I'm usually better at working out where I need to be.
2.  Our house sale in Mount Isa was almost finalised and the solicitor needed the original paperwork, which was in PNG (some in POM and some in Lihir at the time of my departure)
3.  Steve was due back from Lihir and I had some time on my hands, so I decided to spend it with him.
Consequently, I was flying back to POM for a very quick 3 day stay before flying back to Cairns.  Let me say at this point that I am sick of travelling (did you ever think you would hear that coming out of my mouth?????)  It's not so much the travelling part that I am sick of as much as just wanting to get into the swing of things here in PNG and explore all the adventures waiting to happen and that is hard to do when you spend so much time going back and forth between here and Australia.  I must also point out that it's a bit of a kick to have so many stamps in my passport.  I would love for them to be from lots of different countries, but one step at a time. 
I spent most of Monday afternoon sleeping, and then because it was a short stay and because I had already cancelled all my plans, I spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday doing a bit of cooking, cleaning and chilling.  Steve flew in from Lihir on Tuesday so we had dinner at the Aviat Club on Tuesday night, the Yacht Club on Wednesday night and ate at home on the Thursday night.  We had bought a bushell of about 20 crabs on the Wednesday afternoon from a fellow on the street outside of the SVS Harbourside shop and Steve wanted to get into them.  So after consulting google about cooking time, I cooked the crabs, cleaned them, cut them up and put them into a tomato chilli sauce for Steve's dinner on Thursday night.
I had a salad.  Steve had come home from Lihir with an infected hair follicle so on Thursday morning, we went to Paradise Hospital to see the doctor and get some medication etc.  That was a long and oddly comforting process.  Steve was muchly amused at what he had to do to see the doctor which he relayed in fits of laughter to his parents days later.   We are loving the PNG experience. (Mostly anyway - a couple of weeks later, we were not so amused but that story later). On Friday morning, 1st April, I flew back to Cairns to mail documents to the solicitor and wait for Monique to finish school for the term.  Actually, when I say morning, that is when we was scheduled to fly to Cairns but as it turned out we had three different delays, and hours of waiting before a plane was ready/available to take us.  So instead of leaving at 9.30am,
we flew out at 12.50pm.  Long wait, but as my friend Lesley was catching the same plane with her husband to go back home (Margaret River area in WA - so envious) we had a great time talking about everything and it seems to go quite fast. Sylvia picked me up, then we headed to her place.  Brenton was picking Monique up so she could spend the weekend with us. The weekend was good.  Syl and I cooked lots and Monique spent time (lots of time) on Facebook chatting to her mates which I believe she does every weekend.  On Sunday night, I dropped Monique back to school for the last week of term and then Monday morning, headed to Townsville to spend time with Tiarna.    Townsville was fun, and spending time with Tiarna again was great.  We shopped, ate lunch on the strand, watched movies, talked, cooked, and generally had a fantastic time.  I stayed until Thursday lunchtime.  Tiarna is still looking for a job but I think she is also kind of enjoying catching up with her friends that she has been too busy to spend time with recently.  I know that she really does want to find a job again as her car is broken down and it doesn't look like it's worth fixing, and she would like to have the freedom to buy a new one and have money to go out a bit.  But it's all good so far.  And I'm sure a job is just around the corner for her.   On the way back to Cairns on Thursday, I stopped in to visit Christine Eckhardt who was a really good friend of my mum's so she is like a mother to us all.  We talked non stop for two and a half hours to catch each other up on what has been happening in each others lives since last time we met up.  It was late and already dark by the time I left for the extra two
hours driving I still had to do to get back.  So at 9.30pm, I arrived at Syl's place in Cairns.  And went to bed.  On Friday morning, Syl and I went for breakfast at this little cafe in the city called the Lilypad.  I had a wild omelet and Syl had bacon and eggs.  OMG. (Yes, I can do letters like my daughters).  YUM YUM YUM.  The omelet had roasted capsicum, sun dried tomatoes, feta, onion and greens inside it, and a really good piece of gluten free toast on the side.  YUM.  Afterwards, feeling very full, we went for a bit of shopping, then home to chill before all the kids had to be picked up.  Dinner that night was simple but good and we had an early night because Monique and I were travelling back to POM the next morning.    So on Saturday 9th of April, we flew back home with no delays this time and the plane was fairly empty, so it
was a good flight.  When we arrived at the airport, it was chocca full of people.  Planes from Cairns, Brisbane and Sydney had all landed and there were people everywhere.  Fun.  When we finally got through customs, Steve was waiting. 
Esther arrived for a week visit on Monday 11th April with Jed.  We drove to the airport to pick them up and here's the story of why we don't always like the PNG experience.  Before Esther left, I told her to wait for us inside the terminal as being a first time visitor, she wouldn't know what to look out for outside.   So we went to go inside the terminal, and the guards had decided that today they were not letting anyone in except those departing.  No exceptions.  This rule changes on a daily basis depending who is on and what mood they are in.  So even though Steve had been allowed in 2 days before to wait for us, we weren't allowed in that day.  Boy was there steam coming off Steve's ears.  Anyway, we waited just outside the doors hoping to see Esther as she came through the customs area.  We waited, and waited and waited.  While waiting Steve and Monique amused themselves by imaging they were  Steve Martin out of The Pink Panther when he was dressed in the skin tight suit that blended with the wall.  Steve reckons he was going to get one in green so that he could blend in with the' plants at the doorway and then when Monique makes a distraction, he was going to slip in past the guards.  I'm not sure that I would want to see that scene but it was highly funny. 
Anyway after waiting for ages there was still no Esther and Jed.  So we went back to the entrance door and asked again to go inside.  No, not going to happen.  So we went back to the arrivals door and waited some more.  Finally Esther and Jed came to the door to see where we were and we yelled out to them
to come out.  Drama, drama, drama.  But all ended good.  We showed them around the town, and went to some shops.  Actually, Esther and Jed arrived just in time to go to the opening of Brumbys Bakery.  We were the second customers served.  How very cool.  Well for everyone else but me, cause I can't eat anything from there, but it was good anyway.  We had dinner at the Italian restaurant, Japello's, that night.  We hadn't been there before and it was lovely.  Steve flew out to Lihir early early the next morning.
So for the rest of this week, Esther and Jed have been exploring what it's like to live in PNG.  On Tuesday morning we went to Airways to do a book sort for Buk Bilong Pikininni, Wednesday was a meeting for BBP and visiting the gallery, Annie's pottery and the Lamana street markets in the afternoon.  Thursday we went to the General Hospital library and Hohola libraries where we did Easter activities with the kids and then book sort again in the afternoon, and Friday we did craft group in the morning and bits and pieces in the afternoon.  There were lunches and dinners out and about for some meals and other at home.  It was a very busy week but really great to show Esther and Jed our new stomping ground.  Unless you have
been here, it's really hard to explain exactly what it is like.   The General Hospital is getting some renovations done so half the front of the hospital is closed off, so when we went to the library in the childrens ward, we had to go a new way which was very confusing, but we had a great time reading and doing colouring in and glueing with the kids there.  The library at Holola is located inside a Disabled school so most of the children are either deaf or have some form of mental disability.  Even Noah, the teacher librarian is deaf, so we
had a bit of trouble at the beginning communicating with him and the kids but by the end of the activity we knew some very simple sign language and were able to communicate ok.  It was a really interesting process and I think I'll try and get an AUSLAN sign book to learn some sign language so that next time I go, I can talk to them.  Very interesting.  One of the boys was told to put some glue on the paper and then stick some cotton balls down, but the translation got somehow mixed up so he stuck the cotton balls to the glue stick and stood it up on the table.  Some of the other boys thought that was hilarious, and we all just laughed for ages about it.  So very cute and so very funny.  What a wonderful morning.  On the trips to the gallery, Esther and Jed were much amused with the penis gourds so they got two to take home.  Monique wanted a bow and arrow set.  What is it about my children that both of them want the bow and arrow set.  Is it something lacking in our parenting skills?  So funny.  Tiarna even got a wooden knife.  Anyway, Monique got the bow and arrows.   At the street markets, Esther got a billim bag and a couple of paintings.  We bought a couple of sets of salt and pepper shakers from Annie's pottery, one set for me and the other for Esther to
take home.  Annie has a man down from the highlands to make all the pottery.  He does the turning work one day and all the art work the next.  Annie is a local lady and she has a little shop set up at the back of the disabled home called Cheschire Home.  I have met her a couple of times through the All Nations Womens Group Activities, and she is also a neighbour of Shivani, so I imagine that I will meet up with her more often.  She had some beautiful stuff, mostly with birds of paradise, frogs and geckos painted on them but so very lovely.   Monique and Jed were up giggling one night at midnight because Monique was pretending that she was a ninja and was sneaking around the house (not very well but it was very funny).  She would
hide behind a door and then sneak to another corner, dive accross the floor and crawl along the end of the bed.  So funny.  Eventually, everyone went to sleep.   I also forgot to mention that Esther and I went to a shop known not so affectionately here as "Stab and Grab" although it's official name is " Stop and Shop".  I hadn't been there before because of its unsavoury reputation but Shivani said that she wanted to have a look at it and as we were in a group situation, we decided to do it.  It was great and i will be going back
there again.  The main reason.  There were locally grown asparagus and snow peas.  I have not seen them for sale anywhere else here.  There is some imported stuff but that is so expensive it's not worth getting.  So yum.  It's been a lovely time having Esther and Jed here with us, and they still have the weekend to go before flying back to Australia, so I'm sure there will be more adventures to tell about
in my next edition of this blog.  Later...........

Saturday 16th April - Thursday 21st April
The weekend was great.  We went back to the markets because Esther wanted to get a basket and another painting.  So we pulled up intending to get 1 basket and 1 painting and left with 2 baskets and 4 paintings.  Excellent.  On the Sunday, we were invited to follow Les and Lealah out to the University markets out of town where we got a heap of vegetables.  The two kids got donuts which were not very good and ended up being fed to the fish at the lake that we stopped at later on.  Esther also bought a cassava cake (I had been given a taste of Cassava cake in Mount Isa made by a Phillipino lady.  It was sooo good.  Anyway, I took a small piece of the cake that Esther got and OMG,  yuck.  I wanted to get a scrapper and clean my tongue.  Yuck.  Esther spat hers out but i wasnt' that forward thinking and swallowed.  Eeewww.... No more cakes from the markets.  We also visited the orchid gardens which was again stunning.  We chatted to one of the nationals at the gardens who told us that one of the cockatoos had been taught to swear in Tok Pisin (which I have found out is the official name of what we call Pigeon).  So funny.  He was taught to say "kaikaicock" of which I will not completely translate other than to say that kai means eat.... Use your imagination... Then we went to the Bomona Memorial Cemetary.  So very lovely, sad and haunting.  Afterwards, we adjourned to KMC for a double icecream.  Yum.  We then chilled for the rest of the day as Esther and Jed had a very early flight the next morning.
 Monday morning at 4.30am we woke up and hurriedly had breakfast and drove to the airport to drop off Esther and Jed.  The international airport doesn't open until 5am so even though the plane was scheduled to leave at 6.15am, we didn't have to get there until 5.   So they checked in and we took them up to the departure lounge, I checked the forms that Esther filled out and finished filling them out as she had forgotten half of the information (she needs to wear her glasses more) and then said goodbye.  Mon and I went back home to bed for a couple of hours.  We have been taking it easy the last couple of days together as Mon is flying back to school on Sunday.  Today we  went and got a heap of groceries for the easter weekend so that we don't have to go out again.  It should be very relaxing.    I finally convinced Monique to go and have a look at JMart which you might think is similar to KMart in Australia but it's not.  It's more like Coles and I really like it as its clean and they have a good range of goodies especially in the gluten free range, but Monique had it in her head that she didn't want to go there because it was too scary.  Not at all.  With much convincing and forcing, we went today.  I think she is now converted.  But she still will not go to Stab and
Grab for a look.  I'm not sure why. 
I am so enjoying my time up here.  There are new adventures and stuff to be amused by most days.  This morning I was woken by Tetkos the gardener knocking on the door.  He had gotten the two coconuts off the tree that we have been eyeing off for a while now, and had stripped them down ready for me to smack them open and drink and eat the juice and coconut.  Where else would you have that done for you.  As I may have mentioned before, are not Steve and I living the dream on a South Pacific Island.  A couple of things could be different to make life a bit more amazing such as Steve not being away all the time, and doing some travelling and adventuring into other parts of PNG, but that will all come.  Soon I hope.
Anyway, I'm going to finish this bit of the blog by telling you that I am sitting out on my front verandah (yes, we are still in the temp house while our floor is being fixed, walls painted and bathroom renovated) in the dark, listening to the rain falling gently while typing this.  It's very peaceful and lovely and I know that I am so very lucky to be experiencing such an amazing place.  Bye for now.........

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sunday 20 March

Saturday 12 March - Sunday 20 March
We put Tiarna on the plane on Saturday morning for her to return to Australia.  She is sounding more positive which I 'm so happy about.  So she plans to go back home to Townsville and look for a new job and stay positive.    Steve and I spent most of the rest of the weekend relaxing and sleeping.  We joined a bbq at the haus wing on Saturday night which was lovely and then went to Fu Gui's for dinner on Sunday night.   We have made a pact to try new things when we go out, so we had a chicken dish, a vege dish, fried rice and "the new dish" = pork belly cooked in a plum sauce.  I have been watching chefs on tv cooking with pork belly and saying how very nice it is, and they are right except that I think that I would have enjoyed it more if it was roasted or bbq'ed for extra flavour.  It had a very soft texture which was weird with a nice pork flavour.   Steve left for work really early on Monday as he had a big day to get a heap of things done before flying out to Lihir the next morning.  I had a quiet day just venturing out to get a few bits and pieces at the grocery store.  We decided to go to the
yacht club that night to have dinner.  Steve ordered the oysters kilpatrick and a seafood pasta dish.  He really enjoyed both.  He is really getting into the seafood while here because it is so cheap.  We were driving to the shop one afternoon a couple of weeks ago and there was a fellow selling huge lobsters on the street.  So we pulled over and got one for K50.  Such a good price and it was so big.  But when the man went to hand it to me through the window of the car, I didn't want to touch it.  It reminded me of a humungous spider.  Ewwww.....
Anyway, I grabbed it quickly and threw it on the back seat.  So funny.  Steve was laughing at me and then chased me into the house once we got home.    Anyway, I ordered satay pork sticks with rice and some steamed veges.  It was ok.  I think the pork was just too touch, but the satay sauce was incredible.  So hot and spicy, it was almost painful.  Yum. 
Steve woke me up at 4.30am on Tuesday morning to drive him to the airport.   It was all good except for after I dropped Steve off, the front windscreen started fogging up and I couldn't see a thing.  So instead of doing the sensible thing of using the wipers, I winded down the window and used my hand.  Stupid huh.  I have been constantly astonished at how when you are in unfamiliar place and something out of the ordinary occurs, I really struggle to think properly at first.  It takes a few minutes, but thank goodness, eventually common sense kicks
in.  And it did this time, so I used the wipers all the way back home, raced back into the house and went back to bed - but couldn't go back to sleep from my racing heart and mind.   So starts my first day of my two weeks by myself in POM.  The day did get better.  At nine fifteen, Lealah and I headed out to the yacht club to meet up with the ladies from the All Nations Womens Group.  We were going to see the newly opened PNG National Orchid Gardens for the morning.  So we car pooled and headed out to fourteen mile which is were the gardens
are and spent a fantastic hot and sweaty couple of hours roaming the spectactular gardens and listening to a very knowledgable orchid expert.  There were also a heap of local birds in one section of the garden and I got to see a male bird of paradise for the first time.  So very impressive.  When we returned to the yacht club, Lealah and I had lunch (I tried the vege burger with chips and salad = yum) and then headed home.  I spent the afternoon with Maggie trying yet again to get a start to my bilum bag.  Lets just say I really suck at it.  But at least this time, I started the actual bag, but again I have to pull it apart and start again because it was too loose.  Oh well, next week.  I dropped Maggie home that afternoon which was an experience of its own.  I usually get Steve to go with me when I have dropped her off in the past, but I did it.  And then I headed to the yacht club for an hour and a half of rowing with the canoe club.  This time I was in a boat with 4 other women who were also new and the tutor who spent the time showing us how to use the oar correctly and pace etc.  It was great.  I can't tell you how very beautifully serene it is out in the middle of the harbour even with the tutor calling out instructions.  One of the canoes overturned but luckily there was a tug boat in the immediate  area and they were towed in.  Not good.  But still a great afternoon.  I met up with Les and Lealah afterwards for dinner so that I wasn't driving home in the dark on my own.  It was a great day all up.
Wednesday morning started out with my first committee meeting of Buk Bilong Pikinnini which was held in the apartment of one of the members.  I met a heap of ladies and was officially signed up as one of the book sort organisers.  This is going to be made easy very soon because the shipping containers are going to be moved onto our compound very soon. And I also said that I would help organise the fundraising.  What did I do that  for???????  What a daunting task.  I plan to do a bit of googling to get some ideas.   Oh well,  if you are
going to do something, aim high.  The morning extended into the early afternoon, so after I left, I grabbed a few bits at the grocery store and came home to get some lunch organised for Maggie and myself.  We spent the afternoon cooking another chicken dish, this time with Taro which was very nice.  I now plan to try it roasted. 

2 taro
8 - 10 pieces of chicken
2 tins of coconut milk
stock cube

Cut the hard skin off the taro and cut into large pieces.  Add to a big pot.  Wash the chicken pieces and place on top of the taro.  Put in a small amount of water, probably about 2cm, add some salt, cover with a lid or alfoil and put on a medium heat until the chicken is cooked and the taro is softish - you should be able to put a fork into it easily.  This will probably take an hour or so.  Add the coconut milk and some stock cube and allow to simmer for about half an hour on really low heat.  Eat.  Yum

Maggie and I watched a movie and then I took her home again, went for a quick walk at the yacht club and then came home.  I ate dinner and then went out for an hour or so with Les and Lealah to the yacht club for the key draw.  It was again a good day and night. 
I woke up on Thursday morning feeling a little off.  I hadn't slept well and almost phoned to cancel the plans to visit the hospital library with Lesley.  But I decided to go and I'm so glad i did.  It was the most heartbreakingly fascinating day.  I was to meet Lesley at her house which is near the Ela Beach Hotel, but I couldn't find her house so I stayed at the Ela Beach Hotel for her to pick me up.   She arrived shortly after with Leanne who is the head teacher librarian for the BBP.  Leanne works from head office and goes out to all the libraries
making sure that the staff have all they need and checks that everyone has training etc.  She is a PNG National, very educated and a thoroughly incredible person.  We also picked up Shivani, who is a young Fiji Indian woman, loves to chat and is enchanting.  We headed to the library at six mile which is where Tiarna and I went last week.  We only stopped for a very short time to drop off some activity sheets for the teachers there to use.    After that we went to the General Hospital which is another very sad situation in POM.  The building is
old and needs maintenance, it is very crowded with mattresses thrown on the floor in some wards to accomodate the sick.  They do not have enough staff, not enough medicine, and the people who are sick in the wards have to bring their own sheets and blankets, clothes and food, or they don't get any.  We went to one of the childrens wards which is where the library is located at the hospital.  This particular childrens ward is for those children who are malnutritioned, have TB or Aids.  Some kids have sheets, other sleep on the plastic mattresses.  Most had parents there, who sleep on mats on the floor beside them.  This ward had just had new beds donated by RH which is a Chinese company that owns a heap of grocery stores in POM.  They had also donated new bedside cupboards.  Let me say that while the bed frames were new, the mattresses were not, although they are kept as clean as they can be.  The temperature was terrible because the fans are not allowed to be turned on to save money which can be spent on medication and staff wages.  As a consequence, the smell was also awful.  What a depressing place for these children to "get better".  The windows do not have curtains, the walls are bare.  Right at the back of the ward was a little space set aside for the library.  On a little bit of carpet - which needs replacing with something much more hygenic = sat a group of the brothers and sisters and those patients who were able
and interested listening to a story read by an incredible teacher called Nara.  As we walked in, everyone smiled and said hello.  They were very excited to see us.  I sat on the toy box and listened to the teacher and the children and was so inspired to see such dedication and interest in learning.   The teacher told us that one of the brothers, a boy called Joe, who had been going to the library for months while his sister was in hospital,  had been sent to school.  He was the age to go into Preschool but because he knew so much, he was put into Grade 1.  This only came about because Lesley had spoken to Joe's father a couple of weeks before and said how very clever Joe was.   This story is why Buk Bilong Pikinnini exists.  Because of Nara, Joe will go to school (luckily his father has a job and can afford to send him) and get an education, have a better chance of getting a job, send his own children to school etc.  This is only one child's story and there is much enthusiam seen at each of the libraries which is so warming.  These children would not normally have access to books or teachers, as many of them from
desperately poor families.   I am so very happy and excited to be part of such an incredible group.   After leaving the childrens ward, we went into the womens ward which is located a fair distance away from the main part of the hospital.  This area is much neater and is better maintained due to hard work of the expat women through a group called the Sousou Mamas.  This group provides sheets, towels, and basic hygiene products for the pregnant woman and new mums, as well as some funding for the womens ward.  While it is neater than the main part, it is still very crowded, basic and sad.  We went into the special care nursery to deliver some baby clothes to the new mums there.  This is a tiny 4 room area that the babies who need special care are looked after.  The whole 4 rooms were terribly hot, sweat just poured off me the whole time we were in there.  One room is full of the tiniest babies you have ever seen in little cribs.  These are the really sick babies.   There are no fancy machines in this room, but the nurse told me that most of the babies survive.  This must be through purely the love and attention of the incredible nurses, because there certainly is no technology helping them out.   Once the little babies are considered not as sick, they are transferred to the second room which is right beside the mothers room.  This is where the babies are fed up to a satisfactory weight before being let go home with their parents.  There were two
babies in this second room whose mothers had died, and they were staying until the funeral and grieving ceremonies were complete before their relatives would come to get them.  If the mother is  unable to breast feed, the babies are fed with a spoon and cup.  The nurse said they don't use bottles because they would never be sterilied and would be very bad for the babies, so most mothers are encouraged to breast feed as this is the most hygenic way.  We spent some time talking to the mothers and giving them clothes and blankets for the babies.
I remember when I had Monique in the Cairns hospital 15 years ago and was not happy with any number of stupid insignificant things.  I can now say that I will never complain about any hospital in Australia ever again because we have nothing to complain about. Nothing..... When you see a child lying on a plastic mattress, sweating because there is no air circulation, being hand fed by her parents because she is too weak to feed herself and still able to smile as you walk past, and know how much better she would be in a hospital that was clean, cool and had access to proper medication, you really have to assess how you live your own life.  All of those times we get angry about waiting in lines, get frustrated because is takes 2 hours to drive to the airport in Brisbane, fight with our families because they say or do something we don't like.  So pointless when faced with such suffering.   You really have to remember that very little bit helps or you would go completely crazy with horror and grief.  So I have seen the results of BBP and intent to be fully involved for as long as possible.
After leaving the hospital, we went back to the head office to drop Leanne off, and then to have something to eat at Brian Bell.  I spent a heap of time talking to Lesley and Shivani nd really feel positive about what I am doing.  Shivani is going to help me with the fundraising bit of BBP and she is such a happy chappy, that I know we are going to have fun.  By the time I was dropped back at my car, and I had driven home, I felt totally shattered.  So I had a shower and spent the rest of the afternoon napping and watching a bit of tv,  thanking my lucky stars or whatever about how fortunate I am.
Friday is the day Lealah and I go to craft group at the Aviat Club.  We have both become avid quilters which is crazy because I have never felt inclined to do it.  But I plan to get all sorts of things in Australia for it the next time I go back.   Before Lealah and I went to craft group, I made a heap of chocolate muffins and raced around like a maniac giving them out to everyone.  Then we dashed off to the Aviat Club for craft group.  Marilyn, who is teaching us, is away but the other ladies were able to help us with any problems so we spend a lovely morning chatting to everyone.  It's a great social time as well as learning new things.  We stopped in at the general hospital afterwards so I could give some books to one of the new mums I had talked to the day before.  She had been telling me about enjoying Patricia Cornwell, so I gave her a JD Robb book and a Nora Roberts one as well.  I hope she likes them.  I had a quiet afternoon at home pottering around.  My seedlings are growing beautifully so i hope to get them into a big pot soon.   I am enjoying having all the orchids also.  I have never looked after orchids before, so it is challenging.    Les and Leahlah took me out to dinner at the Port Moresby Country Club.  It was packed because the Joker Draw was sitting at K62,518 which is huge.  We met up with Keong and Chloe and a couple of their friends.  It was an interesting evening, and a local girl won the Joker Draw which was so
fastastic to see.  It will change her life.  We got  home at 10.30pm and I pretty well promptly fell asleep.
On a sad note for this week, my sister messaged early in the week to tell me that my grandmother had stopped eating and her kidneys had failed.  She was on morphine and not expected to live for very much longer.  I am so glad that I spent some time with her not so very many weeks ago.  I pushed her wheelchair around her garden and we laughed and chatted for ages.  That is how I want to remember her.   I got a phone call on Friday night to say she had died.  I am booked to fly out to Brisbane early Monday morning for the funeral.  I will stay there until Monique has finished school for the term before returning with her. 
Saturday was spent cleaning up the house, packing my suitcase and cancelling next weeks plans.  I went out to get KMC for lunch and then I spent the afternoon up in the haus wing quilting while listening to my audio book on my ipod, then swimming.  It was a spectacular afternoon and I really enjoyed the quiet and my own company.  When I returned to the house, there was a message on my phone from Lealah asking if I wanted to go and eat dinner with them.  I did and we had pork chops and roasted veges.  Yum.  I also took the time to pulled out my two vodka bottles that i had put lemon skin and orange skin in about a month ago out of the cupboard, strain out the skin and add some sugar syrup to them.  So I now have a bottle of homemade Lemoncello and Orangecello.  They are so good.  I am going to bring two more bottles of Vodka back with me to do other flavours.  Not too hard to do.  Just waiting for the month while the flavours distill is the longest but it is so worth it.
Today, Sunday, is also going to be a quiet one.  I went to the grocery store this morning to get a heap of things so that I could invite everyone in the compound and Steve Lock n Load and Warren to an early bbq dinner.  I got sausages and onions, and made a curried potato salad and a lettuce/tomato salad.  It will be very simple but yummy.   I wandered up to see Lisa and chatted for ages, before going back home and getting some lunch.  Then it's chilling time while I do the final bit of cleaning and packing.  I plan to go to bed early as I have to be up at 4.15am to get to the airport.  I'm not sure what is happening when I arrive in Brisbane but I'll work it out when I get there.  The funeral is not until Thursday, so I have a few days to get to Bundaberg.
Stay tuned............................