Saturday, January 06, 2007

The big catch up begins!

I’m blogging retrospectively to give you an idea of what things have been like for us since we left New Zealand. This is the first of six posts to give you all the details. I’ve been writing all the time but haven’t emailed this to Lyn until now because of the difficulty of getting the email connection to work.

The week before we left to Takuu was a mad rush and the very last few days before we departed molded into one long day with no sleep. I felt very stressed. I remember driving back to Bethells in the early hours of the morning. We had been packing all night, by the time I got home I only had one hour of sleep before I would need to leave for the airport. I didn't even manage to sleep and just lay awake in a kind of surreal dream state. My body and mind knew that it was about to undergo a dramatic change in scenery and life style and I was filled with anticipation, nervousness, exhaustion and excitement. In those moments even my familiar surroundings felt new and different. It made me think of other times before I have left New Zealand or the few days after coming home.

At four am in the darkness of the morning we stumbled out of our car and carried our carefully weighed luggage to the airport. The bags were jammed packed and had been pre-packed about four times, each time we had taken something out that was at the bottom of our list in order of necessity. Now we were down to the bare essentials.

The sun was slowly rising as we walked onto the plane. It was then a three hour ride to Brisbane in which I got quite distracted watching an American family film. Zane was narrating the entire story to me, with details about what each character was thinking doing and saying to one another. It was a funny exercise to not wear the head phones and watch how the film was constructed on a purely visual sense.

Brisbane was very warm and dry and I could see why people liked to live there. It looked barren however and lacking in colour. We had already had enough dramas getting out of the country so when I couldn't get the requested $25,000 Kina arranged for me to pick up from the money exchange place I figured that my trip would probably only get harder. It took us about two hours to solve the problem and we soon learnt that the credit cards I had to pay the money with, had a limit of $7,000.00. Using a combination of our own credit cards we managed to buy it all. Lucky for that as it was our only chance to get Kina before we were due on the boat.

After this we discovered that the plane had been broken. Air Nuigini airways has this happen a lot we hear people say. We waited in Brisbane another two hours, sleeping intermittently and eating the poor range of food and drinking our eight dollar water.

Brisbane to Port Moresby was another three hour plane ride. We flew over the great barrier reef which was beautiful. Arriving in Port Moresby we were over come by a wave of heat. This was when I started feeling nervous as the foreign surroundings made me feel much closer to our destination. We stayed at a five star hotel
  • (Airways Hotel Port Moresby)
  • with high walled gates for security purposes. The service at the hotel was amazing (asides from the fact the next day I was woken at 5.00am when my wake up call was scheduled for 8.00am - I've had no sleep for two days by this point!). The first evening on arrival we met with Sione (an expat from Takuu who runs Association Na Takuu) and Jim Robins (a man who helped get our visa's working at the PNG research institute). The hotel had a wonderful atmosphere - the eating place was partly outside over looking the airport runway and surrounded by dramatic hills and small mountains. Tropical smells and sounds along with refreshing fruits and a sea-food smorgeous board made it even better.

    In the next morning we travelled to Buka. This involved overcoming the next nerve-wracking hurdle of getting all our luggage through the check in. We had expected to pay excess or even worse not end up getting the luggage put on the plane at all, but we ended up getting away without paying anything and getting everything across!

    The plane landed in Buka in a tiny air strip in the middle of a field. The airport is a small building about the size of a family house. About hundred very black faces were standing at the strip waiting for the plane to arrive. Our luggage was loaded immediately off the plane and groups of people huddled around looking for their belongings. The NZ police were waiting for us. They had a sturdy jeep and appeared very organised, already with a plan of action as to how they would get all our luggage to the boat in the short space of time we had. The boat was scheduled to leave in about thirty mins from the time that the plane arrived and we learned later that it had been specifically waiting for us! We finally knew we would make it to the island and be able to shoot the film.

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