Did I really write (looking back) that Papua New Guinea is one of our favorite places? Has turned into a nightmare. Stuck in Wewak these last two weeks. Our friends were robbed at machete and homemade gunpoint on their boat. Then one of them came down with malaria, the nasty cerebral kind.
This was after they’d dragged anchor and gone up on the beach in Vanimo with onshore wind. We haven’t traveled in company in years and this will certainly put us off it again. Too bad because this far off the beaten path it’s a good idea in many ways. PNG has an undercurrent of violence and threat that is always close to the surface, and not directed at us but inclusive of us. We’re hoping that the offshore islands where yachts do visit will be more congenial. Our one major sightseeing tour was in the back of a pickup truck with a guard armed (with an ancient rifle) and Saturday afternoon had to get a guard to accompany us back to the dinghy because the streets of town were full of brawling locals, probably come down from the highlands where infighting is ongoing.
The yacht club here is very friendly, but never gets any yachts, and the Aussie ex-pats are the last of a dying breed, holed up on the hill where they can roll home after nights drinking beer at the club where locals are the largest contingent but as in so many places, there are big signs saying non-member locals cannot come on the premises. Yet I must admit the Papuan smiles are among the best we’ve seen, and, now that we are again (as in Ambon) keeping rotating night watches at anchor, the women coming home from fishing serenade us as they go by in the dark.
I’m going to need a vacation after this cruise is over…