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23. Patrick and John
Patrick and John waited for us to take us on by boat, since the road to Iokea was not yet ready. Patrick is a nephew of Jack and he had been waiting for us for a couple of days.
24. Dingi Ride
In Patrick's dingi we followed the river zigzagging through the jungle, out to the sea and to the Miaru village.
27. Miaru
After a walk in the strong sun, we got some refreshments in Patrick's guesthouse. The coconuts were really good and nourishing and the energy we lost in the sunshine was quickly regained. (Miaru, Gulf Province)
29. Beach Line up
In the evening, we went down together with Patrick's family to take a swim in the sea. Large waves, heavy currents and the about 30 degrees Celsius warm sea embraced us - it was a wonderful swim.
31. Wash up
About thirty metres from the beach, there was a freshwater spring and we washed away the salt from our skins.
34. Refreshed
Waiting for the others to finish washing, we quickly lined up for a photo. From left to right: Patrick, Anders, Thomas (Patrick's son), Peter and John.
35. Miaru at Dawn
Miaru is a paradise in many ways. There are plenty of fruits and vegetables growing both wild and in plantations. Having the harvest season all year round, there is always something to eat and as a villager you can manage without any money.
36. Mosquitoes
At sundown the mosquitoes start attacking and the attack lasts until the sun shines strong again. Laho and his friends were up all night watching over us, talking, humming and occasionally singing.
39. Miaru Community School
Next day Patrick showed us around in the village. We got to know one of the teachers and the education plan used. The local language is studied only during the first year. After that, classes continue in Tok Pisin and English.
41. High Grass
One of the children pointed out a stone skull put on a stick in the high yellow grass. We asked him why it was there and he said someone died there.
42. Dingi Tour
The villagers had arranged for us to take a tour up in the jungle to see the Mangrove swamps. Unfortunately, there had recently been a murder there, and they were worried about our safety outside of the tribe's area.
45. Guards
The local policeman and three other men went with us on the dingi to make sure everything went well. It was a bit uncomfortable having armed guards.
50. John
Our happy friend John, who later accompanied us all the way to Lae, is very fond of chewing Buai (better known as beetle nuts).
52. Swamps
We travelled in the swamp 'tunnels' made by the green vegetation. In the native language or Tok Ples, trees are just trees and flowers are just flowers. It seems like only things with a defined use have names.
53. Catamaran Canoe
By the water in the swamp there was a canoe, made of two carved trees joined by crossing branches. This kind of canoe is frequently used and slowly floats down the still waters. Dingi drivers usually slow down when meeting a canoe like this.
55. Highway
We left the dingi for a short walk on the new highway. The sun was very strong and, with the dust from passing vehicles, our throats quickly became dry. Somehow, it felt like having a small practice for the upcoming bush walk.
58. Highway Break
In an empty house near the highway, we sought protection from the sun and Patrick served fresh coconuts and newly cut sugar canes.
60. Fresh Coconuts
The coconut milk, thick as concentrated juice, quickly vanished down our dry throats and we started to eat the white coconut pulp.
62. Chewing Sugar Canes
Because of the hard skin, chewing sugar canes without knives requires some practice. The pulp melts in your mouth leaving only small threads and tiny sugar crystals on your tongue.
63. First Cane
After many sugar canes, the way we ate them made everyone believe that we grow them in Sweden - but we do not. We grow sugar beets and their taste is not as good.
65. Balancing
In the jungle, good balance is an essential skill. This dry tree on our way home is no challenge.
73. To Open a Coconut
Back in the village, Thomas learned how to open a coconut with a bush knife. Five strong cuts round the top and then break it open. The hardest thing is to remember to keep your fingers out of the way while cutting.
76. Village Council
At sundown, we attended the village council. People were interested in why we were visiting and wanted to hear our story as it was two years since the last time foreigners visited the village.
78. Community People
Speakers like local businessmen, the church pastor, and the headmaster exchanged ideas with the locals. The pros and cons of tourism were discussed as well as the recent murder incident. (Miaru, Gulf Province)
83. Miaru Beach
The sea is very important to the locals and it is a huge part of their everyday life, providing food as well as dreams created by the overwhelming sound of waves striking the beach.
89. Modern Hamlet
Our Iridium phone kept us safe and saved our parents from despair.
90. Patrick's Family
Next day we were going to leave Miaru and our hosts lined up for a photo. After our goodbye Patrick rides the dingi out in the sea and along the high waves towards Malalau.
95. Hitchhike
A river led us from the sea and up close to Malalau, where Patrick's children attend high school. We walked on a big road where fast running Japanese trucks caused dust clouds. When we reached the government station, we sat down in the shadows and waited for a passing vehicle that could take us on. (Malalau, Gulf Province)
96. American
While sitting, we met an American whose father works in development of the area. He had been living in PNG for several years, and we were surprised to hear he would like to go back and take up the studies in an American college.
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© 1999-2002  Photos Nicklas Nordborg  Texts Peter Waller and Thomas Nilsson