How to get to Papua New Guinea from Vanuatu. Fly Vanuatu to Sydney, stay overnight, then Sydney to Brisbane, AUS to Papua New Guinea (PNG). Not easy, but to get to these small countries in the Pacific, Australia is the transfer point.
We made it to Port Moresby, PNG and were greeted by Regis from the U.S. Embassy and quickly got to the national radio station, FM 100. Evan, our host, did a fabulous interview and we played live. Then we headed to our hotel, the Grand Papua Hotel in downtown Port Moresby.
We were given these warnings:
Do not leave the hotel until we pick you up.
Do not take a taxi anywhere on your own.
Do not even walk around the block.
Warning taken. A little rest, a little workout in the gym, a little hang in the bar and ready for day 2.
We learned that PNG has 800+ tribes and 800+ languages to go with them. It has 2 seasons- wet and dry. There is a lot of poverty and many places where clean running water is not available. There are communities with nice apartments and homes, and many communities with shacks made of whatever people can find- a little wood, a little tin, a few stilts to stay dry in the rainy season. Flip flops are the shoes of choice here for folks who have shoes. Lots of bare feet everywhere. We were warned of the high crime rate and there is security everywhere- at the hotel gate, at the locked gates of shopping malls, at the Embassy and at any public places.
Our first full day, we had a lovely luncheon with the new Ambassador to PNG, Walter North, his wife Judy and Bryan Hunt, the Deputy of Mission in PNG for the Embassy. We learned a bit about the country and felt welcomed by our State Department reps! Great food, and Bryan has worked in several places, giving us some stories and tour of souvenirs from previous posts.
On the 15th floor lounge of our hotel, we made fast friends with some amazing folks who work for various non-governmental organizations (NGO) and for various governments’ organizations who do good works there. The 5:30-6:30 happy hour serves as social and connect time for a fluid group of people who are interesting, entertaining and passionate about their work. They call it the therapy hour!
On Friday, January 25th, we went to the National Museum and conducted an intimate workshop with 2 local bands. One was an R&B band with sax, keys, electric guitar and bass and the other a traditional string band (with exquisite vocals) from Vabukori Vaillage. They played with 2 guitars, local style ukulele and percussion. The lead guitar player played upside down and left handed. We demonstrated what we do, but the best part was hearing the Vabukori band and jamming with everyone on “Blues Stay Away from Me” and the Hawaiian song, “Pearly Shells”.
Saturday, we headed to the Buk bilong Pikinini Libray (the word Pikinini is a local affectionate word for children, and in PNG is a positive term). We loved this little one room education center and the librarians who work so hard there. Port Moresby has 9 of these little libraries, and we did the first family concert they have ever had. Around 300 people sat under the tent, in and outside the gates. They sang along, clapped along, played AIR GUITAR with us and felt like a hometown crowd!
We have decided to ADOPT this little library system. We want to collect children’s books & music to send to them. The librarians double as early childhood teachers, getting children ready for school as our pre-school and kindergarten teachers would.
Watch this short video tour and meet the librarians: )
We hope you’ll join us in supporting this little library system. Few of these children have books at home, but the library is trying to help them with their pre-literacy skills and early literacy skills. You can connect with them directly at: