May 13, 2015
We arrived safely yesterday in early afternoon. Dusin is nestled in mountains close to Kujip only about a 20 minute trip from there. As we began to descend, I wondered where in the world we would land. All I could see was a mountain straight ahead but we kept going lower. Soon we landed on an airstrip perched on the edge of a mountain and I think the whole community came out to see the landing and see what crazy people were coming on that plane. Bill had come the day before and was there also to greet us.We’d had a delaying taking off because there was fog earlier. I could understand the issue better after arriving here. The sky was clear over us but the surrounding mountains had clouds hanging on their tops and as I watched the sky I saw those clouds go up and down. Also to land on the precarious airstrip in this “valley” in the mountains visibility is crucial.
Our white skins are a curiosity here in this remote area only accessible from outside by plane or foot. As I write from the porch of the house we’re staying in , a girl about 9 or so is sitting on the step watching me and kids are playing in front of me. We can’t really communicate since they speak the local language though we try to. Boys wear T shirts and pants, or shorts or loincloths or nothing on the lower half. The girls wear skirts and a large number of all children ( and adults) wear belums- a traditional bag that women make- slung diagonally over the shoulder. It’s common to see men carrying machetes as they walk around and we saw a few men carrying guns almost as long as they were tall. I guess you never know when you might need these.
I have to admit that when I walked into the house we’re staying in I gulped a bit. It had a strong damp smell and it had old floors. It has solar powered lights, a generator to run the water pump at night, an electric cooler which also runs on the generator at night, even a washing machine which can be used at night also. The exterior and roof have been changed from bamboo and thatch to metal and sheet rock walls have been put up and painted. Furniture is quite tattered but will be soon replaced by new furniture sitting in Kujip (everything has to be flown in for a considerable cost.) There is no public utility here so a small generator runs the pump to fill the cistern in the evening. There is a wood stove for heat since it gets pretty chilly when the sun sets. That’s when we take our showers which, by the way have been warm from the sun, and the nicest we’ve had in PNG.
We returned to Kujip yesterday on a large double prop small plane that will seat up to 18 people or so. It is obvious that flying around PNG in these small planes requires a great deal of skill and wisdom. I learned that pilots do not last long here maybe largely due to the stress of the job. As a passenger it’s frustrating because you never know when your flight will be. They told us to be at the airport on Tues at 8 but we were there at 7, they weighed everything we were taking and us pretty quickly. Our driver from Kujip asked them approximately when we would go out and were told around 10 so we went for some coffee nearby. While we were there, they called our driver and said we were going soon so we returned quickly. Then we waited and then were told the weather had become foggy at Dusin and we wouldn’t go until the afternoon, after another flight they would do in the meantime. We were bummed to say the least, and I think we were told by at least 5 people what the current story was. When the pilot told us we could go back home, I told him we would have to wait there because we’d been dropped off, we were offered to wait in the staff lounge which we though was very kind. A little later the pilot said he’d emailed his wife to see if we could wait at their place. We were driven to their place nearby and waited in the comfort of their home. We were very thankful for the thoughtfulness of that pilot and kindness and generosity of his wife who also sent us off with a sack lunch ( due to our early departure I hadn’t had breakfast.) As it turned out MAF called us back earlier than anticipated since the flight they were going to do didn’t work out. We finally arrived at Dusin around 1:30 pm.