Papua New Guinea
Travelling On The Edge
I met Anne-Laure in 2010 in Portugal, through the same host on Couchsurfing. And we stayed in touch since.
Her father organized scientific expeditions and was well known internationally for his research in marine biology. I had the honor to live with his team from around the world for a while, and living with such passionate researchers was fulfilling. They had discovered more than a hundred new species of organisms in the ocean, which is such a tremendous effort and richly deserved many accolades.
I moved around to meet more locals, and was hosted for more than 4 nights at Onno’s in Port Moresby, where he invited me to a barbeque with both his adoptive and genetic families. Being adopted by other families or even another family member is a normal practice in the country.
We were greeted like royalty on his private land overlooking the beach, and apparently no one can enter someone else’s land without permission! Furthermore, his dad told me that between the locals, it seemed to be more of an inheritance debate.
They had adopted this land because it was considered neutral by those involved in the discussion. And at the end of the negotiations, his dad breathed a sigh of relief because apparently such meetings could end in violence quite frequently!
We were terrified by the news of a murder of a policeman in the Highlands by a gun dealer with a machete through the window of a van earlier, and it seemed sensible enough to listen to the advice of the locals. Anyway the road we were on remained closed for several days while the two families agreed on the compensation of the deceased.
It is quite a contrast in a country where people can laugh at the announcement of the cancellation of a flight for the second time, and either head home or buy a ticket to one city and land in another – which was exactly what I did. And some unplanned experiences could turn out to be aggressive or deadly.
Yet when immersed underwater and discovering the beauty of the ocean and its nature simply dazzling. This alone is well worth the risk of exploring the country – so long as the trip is pre-planned and a network of locals who could help to enable safe travels.
Did you know...
- Papua New Guinea and Indonesia share the island of New Guinea which is one of the world’s largest islands.
- The Island of New Guinea is named after the African country with the same name.
- The world’s only known poisonous bird, the Hooded Pitohui (Pitohui dichrous) is native to Papua New Guinea.
- Even until the 1950’s cannibalism and headhunting were rampant in Papua New Guinea.
- Until 1933 the country used sea-shells as its national currency. Post that, it switched to the Kina.
- Until this day, the monarch of the U.K serves as the Head of Papua New Guinea.
- Papua New Guinea has a greater density of languages than any other nation on earth, except Vanuatu. It has over 850 indigenous languages and at least as many traditional societies, out of a population of just under 6 million.
- Papua New Guinea gained full independence from Australia in September 1975.
- Papua New Guinea is also one of the least explored countries of the world, culturally and geographically. Many undiscovered species of plants and animals are thought to exist in its interiors.
Tribe tattoo master. He is the last one who possess the knowledge of this art in his tribe.