I have finally turned in my report draft for my recent work in Papua New Guinea. So I will take a moment and share some of the highlights of what ended up being an absolutely fantastic couple of weeks.
I was a member of an 8 person team. There were 4 (yes, FOUR) lawyers, a retired port/customs executive, another ag specialist who has run farms in Zambia and worked all over the world, a young analyst supporting the team and writing a chapter, and myself. One women had lost count of how many countries she has traveled in (she has traveled the most extensively) and in a distant second, I believe was the woman for whom Papua New Guinea is her 50th country. We had not only a very skilled and professional team, but it was also quite a fun team.
In Port Moresby we stayed right next to the airport. The hotel took the theme to heart with an airplane as a business center.
The breakfast area was a beautiful way to start each day (and often end the day.)
But what I really love about my job is getting out of the capital cities to the smaller towns and rural areas. So one colleague and I headed out to East New Britain (ENB) Province, half of an PNG island that is dominated by cocoa and copra production. Rabaul used to be the center of ENB, but in 1994 the nearby volcanos, Tavurur and Vulcan, erupted. The weight of the ash collapsed about 80% of the buildings in Rabaul and the ENB capital was moved down the road to Kokopo. Rabaul is definitely coming back and is still the areas port (dominating the country’s cocoa exports), but the area between Rabaul and Tavurur (which is still smoking and spitting ash), has a moonscape.
The port is actually a volcanic caldera with Vulcan on the right of Rabaul itself and Tavurur just to the left of this photo. But the port is still active with ships waiting on the water above the caldera.
Driving out of Rabaul to near the base of Tavurur (we didn’t have the time to hike up the volcano, but it is possible), our driver explained that some 20 feet of ash in 1994 buried the airport and that this moonscape that goes right up to the the volcano goes over the top; the airport and buildings are still very much underneath all of this ash.
While Tavurur (the shorter, and less lush, hill in the distance) smoked while we were in ENB, it often spits ash; at times the ash closes aviation in and out of the island.
On the Tavurur side of Rabaul, one did pass a few buildings such as the following stand alongside the roads . . .
And while ENB Province did move its capital to Kokopo, Rabaul remains lively – with the local Police headquarters one of the most colorful buildings in town:
And a couple of guys taking pictures of one another in a cemetery in another part of town . . .
While I don’t have any photos from my Sunday spent in Kokopo, I was able to go snorkeling in the shadow of these amazing volcanos. It is some of the best scuba diving in the world – and the snorkeling wasn’t bad either!