Saturday, December 29, 2007

We interrupt these village living posts to bring you a special Christmas post...

It being my first time away from home for Christmas, it had to be something special ~ so I joined a group going to visit Karkar Island for 4 days over Christmas. Karkar is a small island off the north coast of PNG, on which is an active volcano.

We left on Sunday morning about 8am. There were 9 of us: Chris, Matt, Deb, Juliann (my housemate), Liz (my village living partner), Joyce & Sharlene (who did POC with me), and Carolina (who lives next door to Joyce & Liz—she’s here for 3 mos from Germany to check out SIL) and ME! We all piled in a PMV that one of Chris’ Papua New Guinean friends, Ken, had arranged. Ken & his family also came along, as his wife is from Karkar and they were going for Christmas too. Our PMV was a small 15 passenger van--about the size of a minivan, they just put more seats inside. MY knees were against the seat in front of me, you can imagine how snugly the 2 guys fit. I think that we ended up with about 18 people squeezed in, plus all our stuff (we had to bring all the food we planned to eat as well—no stores on the island).

We rode the 4 hours to Madang, where we stopped for a bit at the SIL center, waiting for the Ken’s, the Papua New Guinean, family to pick up some food, and they also found a PMV to take us to the boat dock. Another hour ride, this time in truck style PMV. We crammed on, I think that even some people got off so that we’d fit.

When we got to the boat dock-no boats. We were glad that Ken’s wife was from Karkar and had been able to get a hold of here father, and he arragned for a boat to pick us up. The boat came...and it was just a small speed boad; not really the size to carry 15 people plus two mountains of cargo. After a bit of discussion, it was decided that the boat would take the 9 of us over first, then come back for the Ken’s family. So we loaded all our stuff on the boat, and then they asked us to pay in advance (unusual) because they needed to get fuel. The guy took the 20 liter container into the village hoping for fuel, but there was none, so the boat driver said they would just go up the coast a bit to find fuel. So, we watched all our stuff & food for the 4 days being driven away on a boat by someone we didn’t know...we found out, though, that they were sons of Ken’s wife’s father’s sister or something, so we thought that everything would be safe. After waiting for a bit, we decided a game of Rook might pass the time...and about an hour later the boat showed up again, with all our stuff & fuel too J The 9 of us climbed in for the 45 min ride across to Karkar Island. Here we are disembarking on the island; and a photo of Karkar from the boat.

So, we settled in. We stayed at the Lutheran Guest House, which is on the grounds of the hospital that they operate there on Karkar. Dr. Elizabeth and her husband Tony are from Germany. We actually ended up staying in the teacher’s house, which was really nice with 1 large bedroom and 2 small ones. So the 7 girls all slept in the big room (2 single beds, 2 double sized mattresses on the floor, and 1 thermarest) and we let the guys each have their own small room. Then there was a bathroom, a living/dining room, and a fairly decent sized kitchen. The power was only on from 7-noon and then again from 6-10pm. The water also went off from 10pm to 7am, and it wasn’t treated, so we had to boil all the drinking water.

Monday we got up at 6am to drive to a local plantation owner’s house. He had arranged for 2 guides to take us up the volcano (the top of which is about 4,000ft). We spent the morning hiking the mountain. We had divided into 2 groups, one that walked quickly, and then 5 of us that were a little more slow. Unfortunately when the fast group reached the top, it was all foggy and they weren’t really able to see much of anything. They headed back down and we, the slow group, met them and decided not to continue up just to look at the clouds. Oh, and there was a point when we were hiking when the sky just opened up and poured down and we all got soaked. So here we are, soaking wet, walking down the volcano. (I’m the 3rd one back in the blue bandana).

We walked back to the house of the plantation owner, where we were supposed to be able to catch a ride back to the guest house, but no one was there. We wandered around the property and found that it had access to a really nice we all jumped in an swam around. It was REALLY wonderful after the volcano hike to be able to splash around, cool off, and relax.

Having stayed up till midnight, to welcome in Christmas, on Tuesday we slept in a bit, had french toast for breakfast. Deb made cheesecake and she and Sharlene got the two chickens in the oven to roast. Then we all walked down to the beach (3 min) for some snorkling. It was pretty nice out, and we did see some coral, fish and the pretty blue starfish that they have around here. Then back to the house to finish making Christmas dinner: cooked zucchini, roasted vegetables (carrots, potatoes, kaukau-sweet potato), lettuce salad, cabbage salad, roast chicken, gravy, and something that was intended to be stuffing, but wasn’t really :) Deb, an Australian had brought "crackers" for everyone, so we have fun pulling those--inside each cracker (after the loud popping noise when we pulled them apart) we found a silly joke, and these funny plastic crowns in Christmas red & green.

Photos of Christmas dinner: Chris, Juliann & me -- Deb, Sharlene & Liz

Tuesday we also played some games: Pit, Farkle (a dice game), more Rook J and stayed up late hard to go to sleep when you’re having fun hanging out.

Wednesday we got up early to catch an 8am boat off the island. Here's a photo of the girls waiting for the boat.

When we got back to the mainland, Liz, Joyce and I separated from the rest of the group (who came on back to Ukarumpa), and we walked to the villages where we had done our village living, about 1hr up the north coast. (Joyce was in a village about 15 min from Banana Bush village, where Liz and I were, and many people in our two villages are related.) I was a bit nervous to go, but it was SO GOOD to see everyone again! It really did feel somewhat like coming home--seeing our was famili and friends again. Our was brother, whose house we'd lived in, and his family were away visiting his wife's family for Christmas, so we were even able to stay the night in our same house. Everyone in the village seemed happy to see us as well. Our family even killed a chicken for us for dinner! So we hung out with them all afternoon and evening, and then got up early to try to catch a PMV back to Madang town. We spent a lot of time waiting, but finally caught one, and 2 of our brothers (Joseph & Tedor) and our sister, Cris, brought us into town. Our brothers then waited with us until our teachers from POC met us, and we rode with them back to Ukarumpa. Here are Liz & Joyce with folks, walking down the road to a village to catch a PMV. The guys were really nice, and carried our packs for us.

So, thus ends our trip. Times of trusting God to work it all out, an all round unusual Christmas, but loads of fun!! Here is a photo that I took of the group on the hike on Monday, so you can meet everyone: L to R: (our guide), Matt, Liz, Juliann, Carolina, Deb, (another guide), Sharlene, Joyce, Chris


Carolyn said...

Merry Christmas! Sounds like you had a good one. We had a different kind of Christmas this year too: Our first Christmas in Arkansas.

Nathan and Rachel Waldock said...

Wow, sounds like you had quite an interesting Christmas! I'm glad it was a fun time. =)