Of Buai and Boroko

AtoZ2019BThis series of blog posts is part of the A to Z 2019 Blogging Challenge in which I will write snapshot memories of my early married life in the then Territory of Papua New Guinea.

Dark faces with bright red mouths

Sitting on the footpath, chatting in Pidgin or Motu

Feels like they’re staring, so unfamiliar

Confronting to a newcomer at first.

Mass is not the same when kneeling among the buai spit

Blood red globs on the cement floor

Saturday night the cinema, Sunday morning the church.

Moresby betel nut nr Boroko edit low
Betel nut sellers Port Moresby © P Cass

Going shopping takes on a new flavour

The ladies (meris) sit on the ground at Boroko

Bags of buai and lime beside them to sell

Red on the footpath, red on their lips.

Santa arrives Boroko East preschool Xmas 1977
Santa arrives by fire engine at Boroko East Pre-School in Port Moresby.

Boroko for childcare, pre-school and primary school

Santa on a fire engine

International days at Boroko East school

Children of all colours and ethnicities

Camphorwood chests and desks, designer shoes (for some)

Swiss chocolates for Easter and the doctor’s surgery

The city’s single traffic light – which often goes out

On weekends we fetch our Aussie papers

Freshly and expensively delivered from Down South

Staying in touch with our other home.

A couple of our family’s bilums.

Explanatory note: Boroko is a suburb of Port Moresby, capital of PNG. A hub for shopping, restaurants and government housing for public servants.


Buai – betel nut which when mixed with lime give people a high and turn their mouths red.

Balus – an aircraft. Papua New Guinea’s very limited road network and challenging terrain means that the aircraft is necessary and dominant – and sometimes dangerous.

Bilum – a string bag used for carrying anything from sweet potato to babies. The handle goes on the head, across the forehead and the body of the bag lies down the woman’s back (and yes, it’s always a woman when carrying a load).

4 thoughts on “Of Buai and Boroko

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