Friday, August 28, 2009

Landing in Tari

Even the most well traveled person experiences a rush when landing at Tari in Papua New Guinea's Southern Highlands.

A quiet "wow" is often the first work uttered as the traveler steps off the plane onto Tari's airstrip. The air feels as fresh as Muskoka's. The sky looks as blue as Tahoe's. The rest of the scene isn't quite as familiar.

A baggage handler has a stem through his nose and ferns in his hair. Some faces are decorated with clay and paint.

Men walking along the roadway wear yarn caps in patterns that reunite colours perhaps reminiscent of the summer of '69.

An even more creative design sense has been used to create the woven bilum bags women are carrying over their foreheads, leaving hands free to carry firewood, gardening sticks and umbrellas.

And about those umbrellas, there are hundreds and hundreds of bright and over sized umbrellas opened as shelter from the sun. Where did they come from? All those colours, they are used in ways rarely encountered in visitors' regular lives.

After the initial "wow" factor is processed, there is the grope for cameras. Lens caps are removed. Electronics whirr in preparation to record. This landing marks the beginning of a very good trip.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Head Full of Papua New Guinea

Am just back from Papua New Guinea with a head full of blog topics.

The Papua New Guinea experience resists organization and categorization so individual blog entries may be the most appropriate way to report on this trip full of wonders.

Our group of 17 well-traveled travelers visited the iconic regions of Papua New Guinea: the Southern Highlands and the Sepik River Lowlands. We attended the the Mount Hagen Sing Sing. We explored with enthusiasm and curiosity. Our minds and eyes were open to the wonderful.

We should have tried to estimate the number of photo images shot by the group. I wonder how many thousands it might have been. I hope to have the opportunity to see them all.

Knowing the trip would be well documented by generous and talented photographers, I rarely took my basic little camera out of its case. I had the luxury of letting the images make their impressions on my mind.

And that's where they swirl now: children waving from the riverside, a waterfall framed by a high altitude tropical forest, groupings of fantastically carved masks, a Bird of Paradise posed on a bare branch, three women carrying bilums full of sweet potatoes, human hair wigs on men with yellow faces, circles of sing sing dancers jumping as they drum, a "conga line" of overseas visitors dancing to the music of a bamboo band...

More focused blog entries will follow once the contents of my memory have been sorted and edited.

copyright (c) 2007 - 2011 Mary Jane Murray