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Published: October 25th 2015
Searching for a new day.
We missed actual sunrise by a few minutes, but enjoyed natures search light heralding the new day.
After a comfortable over night cruise of 200 nautical miles or so, Sunday the 11th saw us anchoring off a beautiful tropical Island. It took quite a while to anchor the ship. Later the Captain told us there was a strong current as well as a little too much wind and swell, so the decision to stay and disembark took a little longer than usual. We were not all that surprised at the captain's remarks. From the ship's deck we could see that there was a definite rip running around the little island that somewhat protected Kitava. The anchor was 270 meters down!!
Kitava is pretty much unchanged in thousands of years, and the island dwellers of the Triobriand Island group (Part of Milne Bay PNG) all move back and forwards across the islands in their dugouts and sailing rafts/boats/dinghies. Some have outboard motor boats, but they are not very common.
The early morning photos from the ship give some perspective of the reef area by the village at Kitava. This reef according to locals that we talked to, provides the easiest fishing in PNG. We didn't see any under nourished folk on any of these island. They grow
fruit and veg easily, and have fish at the doorstep, literally. This waterway is also a magnet for those who like scuba diving, so many on the ship headed off expectantly. To get to the reef, first they had to get to Kitava and then in a local dugout (5 Kina) across to the island.
Getting ashore was interesting to say the least. The ship lowered tender T3 from outside our cabin, and the Duty Captain and a couple of officers went ashore to ensure all was safe, and complete PNG formalities. Then cruislings queued to board one of the three tenders running the service. In an emergency, these tenders take 141 people, but for this exercise, around 90 per trip. We boarded after a little wait, and were soon heading ashore. THEN! We ran into three rather large waves hitting us more or less broadside. There were screams, some of that masochistic sort from roller coaster riders, others of sheer fright. The good ship T3 rode through the mini storm with only a few getting a ducking from the shower of spray. Later we heard of folk on the following tender becoming very sea sick in similar conditions.
We saw several small craft with very make shift sails crossing between islands. This was a special day and a market plus entertainment was arranged for the cruislings.
As we walked down the peer towards the white coral beach, we were accosted by P & O photographers wanting to capture every movement. When I offered to take their photo, they showed the same disdain as I then showed them!
We were told as we left the tender to hang onto our hats as the wind was likely to carry them out of reach. One gent ignored this, and his expensive rabbit skin akubra hat flew away. It was retrieved, but as the gent didn't go find the lad who retrieved it from the sea, I suspect it will be sold at the next market or worn with pride in the village.
Once ashore, we could see that the various village families lined up along the perimeter of the village and spread out the wares for sale. In addition, there were children posing for photos, (5 Kina) as individuals, or school groups were performing in return for donations to assist with education in the communities. My eye caught a young lad with white feathered head gear, back lit, posing for photos. I wanted a natural shot not photobombed by tourists walking into shot. It took a
while, and I was well pleased with the outcome. Marg and I then walked over and put money in his basket. His Dad came over and talked to us about the island, the school etc. He was as interested in where we had come from and how we lived. These folks have little by way of material things,. So I was surprised when he asked if I supported the Brisbane Broncos. (Rugby League) I confirmed that I did and he said many on the Island also follow the team. Like me, he was disappointed that the Broncos didn't win the grand final 2015.
The markets here were rather interesting. There was brightly coloured clothing for sale, but more importantly, a lot of hand crafted pieces. We were new to the Island culture so acted quite cautiously not really knowing what we could bring back into Australia. At Kitava especially, we saw the best wood hand craft quality of any of the islands and markets we visited. The finish was superb. There were a lot of woven bags, many quite colourful. Then the variety of sea shells was amazing including really large conch shells all polished up. Should we return,
I think we would look out for wood carvings here based on the quality and finish we saw. We also saw turtle shells beautifully polished. On disembarkation in Brisbane, I saw one taken by Customs from a traveller, but that may have been for fumigation or maybe confiscation. It seems highly finished wood work without tell tail holes are ok, but other craft is less likely to come straight through.
For those wanting to go scuba diving, the journey to the little island and coral reef was uncomfortable and very slow. We were surprised that some of these boats even made it as they struggled against rip and wind. Maybe this was normal for them, but it seemed struggle street to me. Marg's pictures have captured this well.
The folks we met at Kitava, were really friendly, and I'm sure everyone felt safe walking around the community. It was here that we first saw the school groups performing and collecting for their community. Next time, I will go better prepared to donate to these groups. Gifts of paper and pens are really appreciated here.
These are beautiful islands that should be left unspoiled, yet have their people
Rip and wind
This is the outer reef of the small island just off Kativa. You can see the troubled waters that the Captain was concerned about.
living content simple lives with minimal outside support for such things as medicine and education. I hope this never looks like any capital city with concrete jungles defaced with mindless tagging.
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