The Quest for Wakonai!
part 20 of Sylvain's adventures in Papua New Guinea

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Saturday, 25th October.

I arrive at Ela Beach and I realize that I had been here before, on 29th August. That was a Friday and this is what it looked like then:
Today is Saturday and this is how it now looks:
Lots of people, lots of food vendors and drinks on the sly.
There was a nice atmosphere, with beach games and canooing and basketball competitions. I particularly liked the look of the public toilets!
I finally find the craft market. It is in the grounds of a school, it must take the place of the school fete.
There are many vendors, many more than in the craft market that is held every day in the city. There are a lot of white people too. This is the hotel district, with embassies and large companies. I guess it must be the school attended by the children of whites.
Surprisingly, the market is led by a group of musicians, singers and dancers. The style is more Polynesian than Papuan. I guess they must come from an island off the northeast coast.
A good way of recycling the soles of flip flops.
Here you have a video of the orchestra and here a video of the dancers.  (Download the large files before opening.)

Audio recordings of 'amateur' quality: 
audio1  audio2  audio3  audio4
audio5  audio6  audio7  audio8
Some light-heartedness in an otherwise rather austere country. This is the only time I saw the elegant hand movements that many Africans seem to have naturally.
It was a really lovely day.

Sunday, 26th October.

I spend the day at the craft market chatting with the merchants.
Monday,  27th October.

Another day at the craft market. I ended up buying a Kundu, a local drum made from lizard skins. On the left, in the yellow shirt, is the drum-maker, a pastor, and on the right, the seller holding my Kundu.

It is said that New Guinea is the 'Land of the Unexpected'.
For me it was like that from the first to the last day!
Going back to the university, this is what I see at the PMV stop:
It is a 'common spotted cuscus' (Spilocuscus maculatus). The skin is one of the main ornaments in traditional costumes. In fact, the girl got into my PMV which gave me time to take lots of photos.
In the evening we decided to take some souvenir photos. Here is the whole Sédé family. This photo looks ordinary, like all the people shots taken during the trip. In fact it is the result of hard work, because PNG people naturally have quite a stern face, and it's difficult to make them smile. The only occassion when I have the time to use my tripod. Everything else was too fast.
Scene of ordinary life. I show how my smartphone can trigger my camera.
A meal in the courtyard. The last night in Papua New Guinea.
All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them!
In the foreground are the residences of university employees, with the university itself in the background. Just behind the university, they are building the athletes' housing for the 2015 Pacific Games.
In the evening, with the youngest daughter of the Sédé family and a neighbour,  we decided to have an adventure!
We climbed the hill just behind the house!
Tuesday,  28th October.

The Sédé family gave me (amongst other things) a ceremonial bilum bag decorated with cassowary feathers.

Now the cassowary is a protected species. So I was not sure how to go through customs. The craft market vendors had told me that if the feathers are part of useful items they will pass through customs without any problems. To be on the safe side, Murphy, one of the sons in the house, accompanied me to customs to recover the bilum if it was refused.
I stand with my bilum over my shoulder and ask if I can go through customs with it. The customs officer tells me that they are very proud that foreign people are interested in their culture and they can take home the souvenirs they want. I thought this was a very classy answer!
I turn back to Murphy and signaled him that it's OK, and then I'm off to boarding.
Last photo of Papua taken from the aeroplane, a bit distorted by the engines jet exhaust.
You can clearly see the "centre" of Port Moresby with Ela Beach in the foreground.
14h 30 Depart Port Moresby for Hong Kong
23h 30 Depart Hong Kong for Paris.

Wednesday, October 29.
06h 00 Arrive Paris.
10h 30 Arrive Bordeaux. I collect my luggage. The Kundu drum arrived in good condition.
12h 00 Arrive Bergerac.
Four months later I've still not completely come back to France. PNG still occupies a large part of my brain.
The common spotted cuscus (Spilocuscus maculatus) is a marsupial that lives in the Cape York region of Australia, New Guinea, and nearby smaller islands. About the size of a common house cat it has thick, woolly fur of varying colours depending on age, sex, and location. The common spotted cuscus is hunted for its meat and pelt, but it is still common in New Guinea and most islands. However it is rarely spotted in Australia, mostly because it is a very shy creature.
From Wikipedia:
Translation completed 16th February 2015. Comments welcome!
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