The Madang Club

alex rust

25 November 2010 | madang, papua new guinea

Some of what we saw in Madang while we called the Madang club our home –

People walk around barefoot with gold nuggets in their pockets. Security guards carry bow and arrows instead of guns. Because of the lack of small change you can ‘sell’ your coins for more than their face value. The prohibition of alcohol is in effect but many wander the streets drunk. The main markets take place in the jungle far from the population’s center. There is a fast internet fiberoptic cable connecting china to australia that runs through town but the slow internet providers make so much money they choose not to hook up to it. Murders are settled with the compensation ceremonies of hog feasting between the families involved. Huge bats fly overhead by the thousand at all hours of the day and night and once while walking by the bank I noticed a huge python hanging from the tree above me. The catholic church put on a crucifixion skit and the locals demand the romans come to madang so they can be ‘belted.’ Twice my local girlfriend was in a fight over me (with other girls of course) and one time whilst out dancing she was bitten because of me.

There are no taxis but I never had trouble getting where I needed to go. I rode with nuns, secrurity guards, police (in the front seat this time), ngo aid workers, and gold miners and never for a charge. Walking down any street at any time of day or night I was met with a smile and a greeting although sometimes it would be a ‘good morning’ in the evening. We were taken in by a family the first day there and even invited to thier home where they prepared for us a mumu feast (local veggies, roots, chicken and fish cooked for hours in coconut milk using hot river stones wrapped in banana leaves). We took them and many children out sailing. When we started the engine the smaller kids starting crying because of the beast inside the boat and when we raised the spinnaker the older men started crying as the younger kids laughed.

However not all here is hunky dory. One of the few other white people we saw was a volunteer from Australia named sam. I said hi to him on a Sunday morning after church. He didn’t seem to happy and I found out why later on when I saw his picture and read the headline ‘australian volunteers working in Papua New Guinea tied up in bush: raped.’ Didn’t see Sam around there again.

One night sleeping outside on the bow I awoke to a local man on board stealing our gas. Was able to get the gas back but the man made his escape in the darkness by paddling away in his dugout canoe. Another night we had a camera and phone taken and both other sailboats had similar incendences while in Madang.

A couple crew changes on Bubbles. Tree could’t take the heat and flew to colder weather down in Austrailia and we picked up Peter, a 29 year old Australian law student, professional free diver and spear fisherman. Coming to join the boat also is croc hunter Reed Whiting. Benito, the Frenchman, continues to call Bubbles home.

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