On the left is Dave Walker, husband/father of our partners. In the middle is Terry (or “T-ball”) one of our leaders who has been working in PNG for many years and is about thirty years older than Dave and I combined. We all decided to wear blue so that we would be able to easily pick each other out in a crowd. This turned out to be unnecessary since we were the only white people within many miles of anywhere we set foot and even T-ball was substantially taller than everyone else. Plus we didn’t actually arrange the matching blue. My blue was sponsored by Oobe–special thanks to Jeff Taylor. My bag weighed in at 13kgs (about 29lbs) while T-ball’s was a mere 6kgs–like I said, he’s been around for a while and his experience has made him wise.
We were choppered in by Mike, our pilot and good friend. We left Goroka and flew about 45 minutes to our destination. We circled around some of the surrounding area to see other parts of the Safeyoka tribe. In the next two pictures you can see houses in clumps of three or four in the jungle. (Like always, you can click on any pictures to see them larger.)
Then we came to the village of Umba which has an airstrip. The airstrip has been closed for a few years because of lack of use and upkeep, but it’s still there. You can see the grass strip in the next two shots. There are houses along both sides of the airstrip but many are concealed in the trees.
It was obvious we were coming since we don’t have a stealth chopper and so we were greeted by a crowd.
Many of the people remembered T-ball from a trip he made into Umba in 2010. This guy had a lot to say to him and was very eager for “missionaries” to come live with them (more on this to come in a later post.)
After about an hour in Umba, we started hiking (around 10:30am.) The next three pictures are some of the houses and scenery around Umba.
Our hike was along a “road” the whole way. There were many parts which I would judge impassible by vehicle, but the people in Umba say a Land Cruiser will come up a few times a year. This was the road at it’s best:
As we hiked we could see pockets of houses every once in a while.
Any time we walked through a village, people were eager to see what the white men were up to. This is a group of students at a government school.
We never went more than twenty minutes without fording a river, hopping over a stream, or at least seeing a spring like this one:
We saw lots of coffee too:
When we stopped for a breather, whoever was around would just sit and watch us.
There was a truck traveling our direction and we got a ride for about 45 minutes folded up in the back with sixteen other people on a pile of lumber. After we were over it, I saw that we had crossed this “bridge.”
We had to get off for this part of the road, but the truck did make it through.
Shortly after this, it got dark and we finished the last hour in the rain without taking any pictures. And a mere nine hours after starting (about ten hours after landing in the helicopter) we arrived in Menya for cold showers and a warm meal.
More to come.