*Contents Between the mountains   < previous section Into the jungle           Upland next section >
Between the mountains
158. Banana Bowls
We quickly regained energy and reached Didimaua, where we got a large meal consisting of several bowls of grilled strong bananas; one bowl from each of the families in the village. For dessert, we ate grilled sweet bananas, they tasted delicious. (Didimaua, Gulf Province)
160. Backpack Split
The next day, the villagers warned us that the trail ahead was even steeper than the one we had travelled the day before and they offered to carry some of our baggage - an offer we gladly accepted.
161. Bilums
During our walk we were always greeted by the biggest, broadest and most friendly smiles you can imagine. On their way to and from the market, women carried large bilums filled with fruits and different kinds of vegetables on their backs.
166. Hairy Tree
In the rainforest, shaving was not the most important thing you could do and after a while you could say that we sort of merged with the surroundings. Almost like the locals did when sitting completely still on the ground.
169. Orchid
On rare occasions we spotted orchids. PNG has an enormous variety of orchids, about 3000 different kinds in all shapes and sizes.
173. Phone Models
Sponsored by Telia Mobile, we enjoyed a model's life. To keep up our good looks (!) we only ate healthy food, such as potatoes, tarots, bananas, pineapples and other pure natural products.
175. Emergency Radio
Limmareds Radio sponsored us by providing a radio, it was as a small biscuit with an antenna. The radio operated on flight frequencies, making it possible for us to quickly get in contact with people in case of an emergency situation.
178. Heavy Water
Our bags were rather stuffed (Peter's TV included) with medicine and tools like a saw chain, knives and other necessities needed for a completely unpredictable stay in the rainforest. We also carried a lot of water.
181. Bulldozer Rest
During a well deserved break we were told that someone once had tried to make a road with a bulldozer at this place. But the hills are tough, even for a bulldozer and in 1999 there is still no road in PNG going north to south.
190. Tent vs. Tent
Having a village "close-to", we decided to use our tents to spend the night. The term "close-to" could mean days away, or just around the corner. John and Ol'Man (old man) quickly made a tent of their own, using nothing but bush material. Most of the carriers had rushed away earlier in order to reach the village before dusk.
192. Kerosene Drink
Spending most nights in villages we could use some of the kerosene bottles for carrying water. It rained and our handy friend John made a fire using wet sticks, we are still wondering how?
195. Forest Feast
A meal always tastes good after a long day of walking, and this one tasted particularly delicious. It consisted of rice and tin fish spiced with a lot of cayenne pepper and salt served with freezing cold purified spring water.
202. Revealing Morning
The mysterious sounds of the night made things exciting. Insects crawling outside and in the tent kept us awake. The fog slowly lifted at sunrise, revealing the steep hills of PNG as well as a scorpion on Peter's backpack.
206. Thirsty Expats
Getting water for the n-th time (where n is "close-to" infinity), our guides once again patiently wait. Going down to the water woke some leaches and one of them considered Anders a tasty morsel.
209. Digital Watch
The Iridium phone kept on working, but Anders digital watch could not handle all the moisture.
213. Winki View
As we struggled forward on a narrow, hardly existing path, Ol'Man noticed a stick on the ground. He said that it was a sign from our carriers ahead. They wanted us to take an even narrower path leading down to the once abandoned village of Winki.
218. Fallen Trees
On our way down to Winki we crossed several trees lying on the ground. The rainforest trees stand very tight and it is very dangerous to be in the forest during a storm with trees falling everywhere.
219. Winki
After the steep walk down to the Winki Creek and up "on-top" again, we rested in Timo's house. Despite the lack of food, Timo invited us to stay. On the wooden floor half a meter above the ground was the fireplace. The many floor slots and the porous roof led the smoke straight up. (Timo's house, Winki)
222. Winki House
In many ways, Timo's family lives the traditional way on their hill. They cook Algae rolled in bark on the fire and they use bamboo trunks for fetching water from the river. Around the hill, they grow gardens of sugar canes, potato plants and banana trees. Many banana trees were small and weak making us wonder if we should shorten our stay. (Timo's house, Winki)
227. Walk Harriap
We enjoyed Timo's hospitality for two days. During this time we carefully studied the maps, and re-read the track descriptions in an attempt to get more control of our trip. We had found out that relying too much on the guides made it impossible to know when we could rest.
234. Timo
Knowing the area very well, Timo agreed to lead us to M'Bauya. We had decided not to take the shortcuts over the mountains any more. Walking alongside the mountains, it was still very steep but not as bad as before. We also found out a way to get at an idea of our walking distance. We asked, "How many mountains to next village".
235. Water Walk
We had a wonderful walk along a shallow river. Having constant access to fresh water and walking in the shady rainforest 'tunnels' safely away from the strong sun, we felt really relaxed.
239. Pineapple Slice
On a small island in the river we took a break to eat our pineapple fruit. The sun shone and the river looked really inviting but it was too shallow to take a bath.
240. Pineapple Island
When you have eaten the pineapple you take the top of the fruit and stick into the ground. The fertile ground and this a habit ensure that there will be pineapples in the future.
242. Night Walk
Our relaxed walk soon turned into the worst walk ever. We had been walking all day along and across the river and were now looking forward to the night accommodation. Our guides told us one more mountain. Tiredly, we forced ourselves to continue; this time the path went downhill. We passed a river and on the other side a man with many Kina shells around his neck waited. He had brought hot boiled potatoes and we quickly ate a few. We were now in a rush since the sun quickly vanished and the track still led steeply upwards.
243. House Gut
We put on headlamps and, to the accompaniment of insects sounding like saw mills, we dragged ourselves up for nearly two hours in the darkness, then we spotted a house. We asked the guides if we perhaps could stay there, and the answer was "House no gut". Somehow we managed to climb for another hour and finally a house appeared where we could put up our tents. Some of us were so tired we had to push ourselves to eat. (Wande outpost, Gulf Province)
244. Wande
It rained and we had a short visit with some of Timo's relatives in Wande. A large pig that was poking around under their hut made the children laugh. To eat, we moved to a larger hut crowded with people speaking only Kamean. They served boiled potatoes and broth. We passed our salt bottle round the fire - a gesture well appreciated by the locals. (Wande, Gulf Province)
246. Tapa-Cloth
Word must have spread because more and more people filled the hut. For the first time, we met a man with a bone through his nose. We waited hours for the rain to stop, but it seemed to be able to keep on for days so we left. The locals use Tapa-cloth, a weave of bark threads, as a kind of raincoat. (Wande, Gulf Province)
249. Waterfall
The river was high and violent because of the rain. Nearby, there was a ten-meter high waterfall and the currents were strong, too strong for us to safely cross. The women that had followed us from the village started washing pots in the river.
251. Waiting?
Timo shouted to make his voice heard over the roaring river, he wanted to know if we could wait for the water level to decrease. But we were already late according to our plan so we thought that we had to make an attempt.
253. Bridge Construction
After cutting down trees so they fell in the river, Timo leaped over as far as it was possible. He then plunged into the water, safe behind some stones. When he reached the opposite side he cut down another tree so it fell on the others. With a brilliant but simple combination we had a bridge!
255. Guidance
Using a rope, balancing on the slippery tree trunks, Timo guided us across. Amazingly, we did not loose a thing in the fierce water and if it had not rained earlier that day we would most certainly have been as dry as hermits in a desert.
256. Huts
We walked on towards M'Bayua. The landscape had changed a lot during the last few days and the marvellous views would, from time to time, look like something you normally only read about in fantasy books - occasionally you would duck imagining a fierce dragon flying by.
*Contents Between the mountains   < previous section Into the jungle           Upland next section >
© 1999-2002  Photos Nicklas Nordborg  Texts Peter Waller and Thomas Nilsson