Sel by bobfoto

Sel

The journey south down the East coast of Bougainville was awesome, I had been chased by school girls, I have waved at all the locals, I had drunk Coke and eaten Twisties, and I had crossed many rivers. It seemed like a normal road trip, what about the Bougainville Crisis, the war that lasted 10 years, the Meekamui, what was the story? And then the road trip changed tone, in the last hour, the driver drove at incredible speed, so very quick. It took me a while, but I then realised that the landscape had changed. There were big Power Pole, that once carried electricity from Panguna Mine to Arawa, Kieta and Loloho, but the Power Poles were laying on their side, all the cables were gone. We slowed down for a junction, when I looked right, there was the sign "NO-GO ZONE - by order of the Meekamui" and shortly after that sign, Tractor tyres, Razor wire, 44-Gallon Drums filled with concrete barricaded the road. There were men there, in a Guard post. This was the Meekamui, this was the remnant of the BRA.

I was not in Kansas anymore Toto.

I told my driver to stop, I just had to take photos. I alighted from the car and took a shot of the fallen Power Poles, I took a shot of the Meekamui Sign and I took a photo of the Blockade. Cheekily, I waved and I jumped back in the Land Cruiser.

We continued on down to Arawa. More destruction could be seen on the side of the road, what once was a massive conveyor belt and pipe which carried the wet Copper Ore to the drying plants at Loloho, were destroyed on the roadside. There were people starting to appear on the side of the road wanting a ride to Arawa.

And then we got to Arawa. Now Arawa is unlike any Papua New Guinean town you will ever see, no Chinese shops, no smashed up roads, no grass huts. Arawa is beautiful, it has kerbs, it has footpaths, it has sealed roads, it has reasonable houses with small fences, no 10ft fences with razor wire like Moresby, Lae and Hagen. It looks like a little slice of Queensland.

And then you look closer, the Hospital is just a shell, in ruins, it looks like fire has gutted the place. All of the businesses are shells, just gutted and destroyed by 10 years of civil unrest. Still pieces of tin hang off rafters, loosely dangling in the wind.

It looks like a war was held here.

And then I notice the men. They appear in the corner of your eye, just walking in a daze, with a vacant buai stare, some are wearing cams, some are wearing hi-vis mining gear. To me, I believe that the men of Arawa are all awaiting for a big Bell to ring, to signal one of two things; Panguna mine is open once again for business or the Civil War is back on. This is all I notice from the men. A life of waiting.

The women. Well they are gorgeous, they are fun, they are full of life. Good thing I am staying at the Arawa's Women Training Centre tonight.

Photo taken 7 August 2008. Title reads: Shell.
You captured the desolation really well.
August 8th, 2012  
Certainly is a shell - the realities of war!
August 8th, 2012  
nod
You live the life I dreamed of living when I was 20 :-) And this photo is a fabulous photo of emptiness & abandonment. Fav.
August 8th, 2012  
You are either the most adverturous person in the world or crazy, the vote is out, but you sure peek alot of interest in your great trip
August 8th, 2012  
I have heard the history of this area and wondered what had happened! Now I know there is dissention between parties as is in other places where the energy revolution has popped up! Who will win? Is this a no win, no lose situation?
August 8th, 2012  
Gorgeous light in this shot, and you beautifully portray the sense of things-are-not-the-way-they-used-to-be feeling. Fav
August 8th, 2012  
Great emptiness... I like to follow your adventures
August 8th, 2012  
@jannaellen - Thanks Janna, I like how you can just make out the Pepsi sign!

@moirab - It is horrible how they now live in limbo...

@nod - Cheers Nod, I don't know if I would have the skill or confidence when I was just 20... oh those years ago!

@jolefont - Crazy.

@maggiemae - Oh Maggiemae, wait until Saturday... my Hardest Photograph Ever! But also a very decisive moment in the Civil Unrest... captured.

@lily - Thank you Laerke, welcome to my project, and yes, this Service Station is not serving many people anymore. ;)

@calliopef - Thanks Calliope, you have joined at a crazy moment... the next few days will be exhausting for me.
August 8th, 2012  
@bobfoto I will follow that with great attention ;)
August 8th, 2012  
What an adventure. Great story and photo.
August 8th, 2012  
@calliopef - :D

@beckys - Thanks BeckyS. Just warming up I am....
August 8th, 2012  
A shell indeed.... what a sad situation. Amazed the sun shines through...
August 8th, 2012  
The lighting is great in this- I so look forward to your stories. Starts the day off right.
August 8th, 2012  
A sign of the times.
The sun sets on the big conglomerates !!
Great lighting.
August 8th, 2012  
o yes lovely light though I feel it needs a photobomb :)
August 8th, 2012  
awesome shot. cries of abandonment
August 8th, 2012  
Great shot. Love the shadows and sunlight filtering through. I also can't wait for tomorrow's photo and story from your stay at the Women's Training Center Justin (Bieber).... ;-)
August 8th, 2012  
Lonely sad feel
August 8th, 2012  
The shell of a Shell station. Very poetic feel. It's so unfortunately to see what conflict can do to people and places - even as time passes.
August 8th, 2012  
Pretty much tells your story. So sad
August 8th, 2012  
the way you describe the men. . .makes me cry. what we do to each other just sucks.
August 8th, 2012  
Another incredible story. Your words paint a picture.
August 8th, 2012  
Lyn
oh, so sad. . .
August 8th, 2012  
Hauntinly beautiful light in this shot
August 9th, 2012  
TC
This shot certainly tells a story and your narrative brings detail. I love the lighting in this shot...it sets the mood well!
August 9th, 2012  
I so love your narrative and explain so much. This shot complements it perfectly.
August 9th, 2012  
Beautiful shot of a ghost town.
August 9th, 2012  
@filsie65 - Thanks Phil, it is a sad place indeed, but there is some hidden beauty found deep within.

@jannkc - Thanks Jann. :)

@jdonnelly - Cheers Joseph, Shell no longer hold any influence on the PNG consumer.

@houdiniem - what are you suggesting?

@abhijit - Indeed.

@boatpainter - Oh the Women's Training Centre was fun! Pity I have so many stories and so few days....

@tigerdreamer - :(

@archaeofrog - No reconstruction or repair has happened since the Peace Treaty. The PNG Govt feel that Bougainville is a risk in regards to investment.

@tthompsonca @tctime @tonydebont - Thanks Terri, TC and Tony. :)

@catsmeowb - Yeah there was a hollowness about the men of Arawa.

@jtrudell - Thanks Janine :)

@lyno - :(

@swilde - 6:17am.

@kjarn - Thanks Kathy A :)
August 9th, 2012  
Loving the light in this. Womens camp?
August 9th, 2012  
@monika64 - Women's Training Centre.
August 9th, 2012  
yes I know but why did they put you there?
August 9th, 2012  
@monika64 - They have rooms for rent. Bed, table, mirror, wardrobe, and an air-con when the Generator is running... shuts off at 10pm. Then the heat comes.
August 9th, 2012  
yet all over the place, people argue over CRAP and insist their side is the correct one before they even open their ears and listen. going on in my country at the moment. political elections. what a bunch of bullshit. promises made to be broken.
August 9th, 2012  
@bobfoto a photobomb?
August 9th, 2012  
It looks like no mans land.. very bare and barren
August 9th, 2012  
@houdiniem - I thought you meant a person of some kind jumping in and staging in front of lens?

@michelleyoung - Oh the Supermarket where I purchased some beer was amazingly desolate, bits of tin hanging from the rafters, no wiring or power, just bare concrete floors and brick walls. No roof at all.

@catsmeowb - You are right Camille, but there is no answer, we have all become headstrong and protective, we are all still tribal in our hearts.
August 10th, 2012  
@bobfoto that too
August 10th, 2012  
Fabulous shot Jason. Such great light and so evocative. I dip into your offerings from time to time knowing that I will never be disappointed. Amongst the 8 thumbnails I see here there are several worthy of a much close look .. and I do look but I just can't comment on every one!
August 14th, 2012  
@yrhenwr - Thank you David, I do understand. In fact, I feel the same way about many of my followers, I do look, and comment occasionally, just wish there was more time to comment on every shot... it is an addictive site indeed. Cheers!
August 14th, 2012  
impressive story and shot, as always! :)
August 23rd, 2012  
@agentzuckerguss - Thank you.
August 24th, 2012  
desolate... that must be a heavy sort of waiting.

Glad the ladies lifted your spirits. :)
September 3rd, 2012  
@hellcat - Ladies are good for that?
September 3rd, 2012  
Sometimes.
September 3rd, 2012  
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