Driva by bobfoto


This is the man who threw the tape cassette out the window into the river.

The only way to get around Bougainville is to be booked into a Toyota 4WD, so on my journey South, I pre-booked the same guy to take me north again in a few days time. But that was the same car that needed repairs inbetween journeys. I was cautious.

The day before this shot, I went to see my southbound driver and he said "yup, I'll pick you up tomorrow at 03:30am"

Excellent, I had a car. Booked.

In the evening, I walked into the Arawa Women's Training Centre's Community Room and there were some men there from the Tax Department, they were drinking some beer. I said "Hey guys, where did you get the beer?" and they handed me a cold one and said "In town at the black market beer shop". I said thanks, drank the beer and decided to go get some. I noticed the Arara Women's Training Centre had a big ice making machine, so my plan was to get some brews, grab some ice and have a quiet evening.

I wandered down the road, and some local kids followed me. I stopped to chat to the local ladies selling their betelnut. They all said "Hi David!". I continued on my way. In a deserted warehouse, with no roof and just rusted steel uprights and blackened charred brickwork, I found a man who was selling a few expensive beers. We had a chat about life in the wasteland, and I grizzled about the price of the beer, and he said "Where else you gonna get some?" - Good call really.

Back at the Training Centre, I saw my Tax friends getting well pissed. I asked them when they were heading back to Buka, and they said "In the Morning... we hired a car". Later, I saw them leave in their car, driving off into the darkness.

My alarm went off, I picked up my pack, and stepped outside into the darkness. A town with no electricity is pretty dark at 3am. The nearest street light is 300kms away. I stand at the gate, waiting for my car. A man I cannot see, stands next to me, he says "David, you're back?"

I shit myself, I cannot see this man, he says he is Security. I introduce myself. He apologises, he thought I was David. We see a car drive down a nearby road, and the Security guy says "That's your car"

I say "where is it going?"

Security guy says "to the Hospital, he's got sick patients to pick up. He drove past here earlier and told me to tell you, you have no car today. Come back tomorrow".

I was shocked and a little angry "What? I booked, how does that work?"

Security Guy says "Same thing happened to David"

We see another 4WD coming down the road and I say to Security Guy "Let's stop this car, I need a ride" to which Security Guy says "You don't want this car" - so we let it pass.

Then another 4WD comes around the corner, it mounts the kerb, nearly hits the power pole, it swerves to the other side of the road. The driver is obviously distracted or drunk. The car comes to a screaming halt in front of me. The windows are down and I can smell alcohol. "Hey Jason, what's up?" It is my Tax friends, they are well drunk. "Where's your car?".

"Don't have one" I said.

They said "Come with us at 8am!"

I said "only if I am the one driving, you are all too drunk!"

And off they drove in search of more beer.

Another 4WD came and Security Guy says "Not this one either". And then Security Guy makes a phone call. I asked him if he knows any drivers and whether or not he can call them and get me a car?

He says "sure."

Around 4am, a car comes and Security Guy says "here's your car, but not your driver".

The driver says "You need a car?" and I says "Yup" and he says "jump in the front". So I do.

We drive a lap of Arawa and we stop at a large pile of beer cans. There is a man standing there, and he speaks in Tok Ples to the driver. The driver gets out and the two men rummage through the beer cans. They find a man asleep and they pick him up and throw him into the back of the 4WD. We do another lap of Arawa. The smell of the drunk unconscious guy is over powering.

We stop at another house and the driver tells me to get out and get the man out of the back. I head to the back door, and the other man grabs a leg, and gestures to me, I grab the other leg. We pull the man out of the 4WD, his body crashing to the ground, we drag him across the road and rest him against the fence. I have no idea if he is alive or not. It is still dark. It is now 04:30am.

I jump back in the 4WD. We do another lap of town, and we stop at another house, the driver lays heavy on the horn - Ppppppppaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrppppppp! He yells out the window. More horn action - Ppppppaaaaarrrrrrppppp!

A man comes to his door, and the driver gets out. They talk and the newly woken man gets in the driver's seat.

We drive another lap of town. We stop at two homes, we hit the horn, people woken up, come to the 4WD and climb into the back.

We head out of town and get to the first river crossing. The driver stops the car and gets out. In the headlights I see him walk to a rock. He puts down his towel, and removes his clothes. With a bar of soap, he lathers up, rinses, takes a piss, dries himself off, gets his clothes on and then climbs back into the cab.

He looks at me and says his first words for the day "Now we're ready. Let's go"

Photo taken 8 August 2008
A riveting story! Thank you for all the writings! This guy doesn't look as if he is every bodies best friend!
August 12th, 2012  
@maggiemae - Thanks Maggiemae, he drove better than the first guy did, so was confident in his operation. Funny as when he through the tape out the window.... Good fun moment of the trip!
August 12th, 2012  
Each episode is better than the last. Photo shows a man who would be handy to have on your side. 8-)
August 12th, 2012  
Awesome yarn. Love the shot too
August 12th, 2012  
LOL I´m already looking forward to tomorrows story. At least it looks like his is concentrating on the road.
August 12th, 2012  
@tonydebont @swilde @leananiemand - Oh tomorrow's shot carries with it an uncomfortable story...
August 12th, 2012  
Well at least he smelled good for you Jason
August 12th, 2012  
@jolefont - he was clean. That's for sure.
August 12th, 2012  
great scott - what on earth is next!? At least we know you are safe and alive. . .
August 12th, 2012  
@lyno eventually, who knows what may come in between...
August 12th, 2012  
LOL! Great story!
August 12th, 2012  
Awesome story! This guy sure looks like he's concentrating.
August 12th, 2012  
@kjarn - Focused. Using the Force he is not.

@cmuir1963 - Thanks Cindy :)

@tigerdreamer @lyno - Yeah, ummm, tomorrow's tale ain't a pleasant one...
August 12th, 2012  
He looks scary... another fantastic part to the story ;)
August 12th, 2012  
he is massive huge!!! what an incredible experience you are having. for how have you been traveling by now?
August 12th, 2012  
@michelleyoung - He was harmless enough, just kept thumping me on the arm each time he needed the cassette changed... needless to say, my arm was sore by the end of the trip.

@carrapeta00 - Oh Lara, this year's project is a retrospective look back at my journey in PNG throughout 2006-2009. I have been safely back in Australia for some years nows.
August 12th, 2012  
so enjoyed this one! laughed so hard. great shot.
August 12th, 2012  
woah no messing
August 12th, 2012  
@catsmeowb - Cheers Camille, thanks! :)

@houdiniem - A man on a mission!
August 13th, 2012  
I certainly wouldn't mess with him!! Rather glad I wasn't there to witness his ablutions too.
At least he gave you a lift..
August 13th, 2012  
@filsie65 - His morning wash-wash was rather amusing really! Thanks for your kind words Phil. :)
August 13th, 2012  
he's trying to focus through the high, i'd recognise that intent stare anywhere! rummaging through piles of empty beer cans to find a man, lolz :)
August 13th, 2012  
Ripping yarn David! I feel like I should go get pissed then have a good wash. Ppppppppaaaaarrrrrpppp!!! Gotta go!
August 14th, 2012  
@brin - They were green cans too... funny that when I went looking, they only wanted to sell me the expensive black cans... Conspiracy I say!

@robv - Sounds like a great way to spend Monday night?
August 14th, 2012  
i know you have heard this a million times but: yeah you should write a book! ;)
August 23rd, 2012  
@agentzuckerguss - I'm seriously thinking about it...
August 24th, 2012  
Don't piss this guy off... nope. Wouldn't be good...
September 3rd, 2012  
@hellcat - nope.
September 3rd, 2012  
Leave a Comment
Sign up for a free account or Sign in to post a comment.