Thursday, 28 July 2011

Popondetta - Another Day in Paradise

After our safe arrival at Popondetta Airport we realised that the hotel hadn’t sent the bus to pick us up Two concerned passengers offered to take us to the hotel but as we by then were told the bus was on its way we declined their kind offers. A number of other people showed concern that we hadn’t been picked up as the airport car park cleared of everyone. The last people to go were the police, who are, for some reason, now stationed at the airport for the arrival and departure of the planes. The place was so empty that we fully expected tumbleweed to start blowing by! Followers of the blog may recall that Popondetta is probably the most dangerous town in PNG so not the place to be stranded! However we survived and were transported to the hotel, well I say hotel!! It is misnamed the Comfort Inn. The people there are lovely but the rooms show may signs of decay and neglect ( we both slept fully clothed as an anti-bed bug precaution).
We were shown to a room that was already occupied then transferred to a free one. As we were about to set out chanting and shouting was heard beyond the metal and razor wire fence. We decided to sit tight for a bit in case another riot had started. Fortunately all was well.
We visited the school and then returned to the Comfort Inn for lunch. As the only eatery in the town it has cornered the market. Unfortunately the waitress always informs you what is not available on the menu. Today this meant no beef, no fish, no eggs which left a couple of items unscathed. We were worried about the lack of eggs at breakfast time but shouldn’t have worried as she announced “sorry no gas” so no cooked food was available!
In the evening we had resorted to a few cold ones in the outside bar area. Sandra got quite excited by the two or three wine lists she saw up on the walls of the bar(you may remember this is the place where the sink is used as a till).  We were told that there was no wine and informed that for a few weeks there hadn’t even been any beer in the town, so we gratefully received a few SP browns.  In between swatting mosquitos and flying bugs we were serenaded by some drunken chaps.  The song was quite beautiful in tone and harmonies.  When we agreed that we had enjoyed it(the drunken chaps actually asked us), they explained that it was a local song about a girl who is engaged to a man who betrays her and marries another. Not surprisingly, when we asked, ‘so what does she do?’ the answer came back, ‘she killed him!’  We also got talking to a lovely gentleman who turned out to be the president of the Kokoda Council. Dinner came and went with the same restrictions and a peaceful bug free night was enjoyed.

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