This 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.
Homesick and overwhelmed
By sights, sounds and smells
I write lengthy epistles
To family and friends far away.
Countless pages about PNG’s
People, places and experiences
Sadly lost to posterity
In the backyard bonfire
Not realising their value to me.
I could weep at the loss
And wish I’d kept a journal instead.
We collate our combined memories:
Collecting a hire car
We drive his sister
From the Davara Motel to UPNG
People wandering home at Waigani
Singing and playing their guitars
Sliding door moments in Darwin
Evoke similar scenes and memories.
We take a day trip to Sogeri, now lost to my memory
His second home in Papua New Guinea.
Up the front steps, not his childhood route
Through the kitchen or windows
We meet a missionary who greets us but doesn’t engage.
The concrete water dam out front, now empty,
Once pumped water to wartime army camps.
Then a playground for school kids who teased Shem, the dog
Until he was sent to a plantation at Brown River.
In a drought the water was brought in
The truck misjudged and broke through the septic tank
80 school boys, really young men
Go “Ensa, Huuuup!” and move it off the tank. Job done.
In his day swimming was more posh
At the Koitaki Country Club pool
Years later on day trips
Our kids would swim in nearby Crystal Rapids.
In the isolation of Alotau, a trip to Samarai
Was our trip to the Big Smoke –
The choice of Burns Philp (BPs) or Steamies (Steamships)
Both places where he worked in school holidays
My first gifts from him were from there.
Travelling to Samarai on a government trawler
With other government wives offered
Opportunities for shopping indulgence and choices
The travel was tedious, hours long, on the deck, not cabins
The redolent smell of diesel.
The curiosity of those who knew him as a teen
Checking out his new misis.
Decades later we return to see an island lost in time
No longer thriving shops, churches or schools
His home no longer stands but memories remain
Of school, Catalinas, and swimming at Deka Deka or
Rude tourists who raid shells under their house.
He is reconciled, I feel his loss.
You can read more about Samarai and our return trip in 2012 on my Troppont blog.
save – (sounds a bit like savvy), know
sampela – some
samting – something
sodawara – sodawater was the word typically used for soft drinks
susu – milk