Tari ples bilong Balus by bobfoto

Tari ples bilong Balus

In 2004 during the general elections, the people of Tari decided to burn the town to the ground so when I visited 2 years later in 2006, the smoke and smoulder was still evident.

It was my first foray into the Highlands of Papua New Guinea and I had been forewarned about the opportunistic crime and violence. So it was during a State of Emergency with police crawling everywhere that I flew into the PNG mountains.

The scenery from the plane was amazeballs, the entire valleys were a patchwork of earthern walls and gardens planted on mounds... it looked so industrious and productive.

What I did not expect as I landed at the 1 mile long runway was the fact that everyone in Tari heads to the airport to watch the planes come and go and see just who in the community is arriving and who is leaving. This crowd you see in this shot, lines the entire fenceline of the airport, this deep. Thousands of people were there to greet me. I felt a little like Elvis.

So I waved.

No one waved back except some kid and his mum slapped him across the ears.

I was daunted. PNG had thrown up the unexpected once again, and I was in the mountains with the millions.

November, your month in the mountains. Over the next 30 days I will offer a look into the life of people who have only been in contact with western civilisation since 1931, only 90 years ago. I left exhausted each time I ventured into the Highlands, emotionally and physically. PNG is a whole new country, but the Highlands are a whole new world.

Photo taken 17 November 2006. Title reads Tari Airport.
Wow, that's a lot of people to meet you!! Very colourful crowd.
November 1st, 2012  
wowsers
November 1st, 2012  
You have really lived on the edge, Jason, and as I have said before we are privileged to read about your experiences!
November 1st, 2012  
@onie - they do this for every plane that comes and goes! It is impressive to see!

@houdiniem - oh yeah... i was a bit scared.

@maggiemae - Oh thank you Maggiemae, there will be some cool stories this month :)
November 1st, 2012  
SUPERSTAR! LOL. quite a story. Very impressive crowd and you certainly deserve the recognition. Great shot of them all!
November 1st, 2012  
I feel sorry for the kid who got slapped across his ears.
November 1st, 2012  
That must have been intimidating! We think of crowds as positive things, in light of trying to someone arrive at least, but the silence must have been deafening.
November 1st, 2012  
Great story! I wonder why they don't wave?
November 1st, 2012  
@grammyn - *blushes* oh thanks Katy :)

@kjarn - toughen him up a little I'd say. Not to worry, one day he'll prolly return the compliment....

@archaeofrog - It was intimidating and as it was my first foray into the Highlands, I was a little concerned. When I received similar receptions later, I embraced the moment and made it a little bit of fun for all.

@btorrey - they had no idea who I was...?
November 1st, 2012  
I thought they didn't wave because your reputation had preceded you. ;) What a greeting none-the-less. And what a world to delve into. No wonder the drain at the end of each Highland visit.
November 1st, 2012  
@geocacheking - Emotionally it is such an exhausting place, despite the trekking... and the high altitude. The stories on how the people live really questions one's own beliefs. I am amazed that modern religion has made such an impact on these people... the early Missionaries were clever people by the time they got into the mountains.
November 1st, 2012  
Ohmygiddyaunt I can't imagine walking past all those people just staring ... did you whistle and try to look nonchalant?
November 1st, 2012  
An intimidating introductory photo and story.
November 1st, 2012  
@filsie65 - the lucky thing was my car was allowed into the airport, so when i got on board the Big Bus, we then had to slowly drive through the crowd.... they liked touching the bus.

@rvwalker - Thanks Ross, I hope you enjoy my November month in the Mountains.
November 2nd, 2012  
wow......a moment (among many, i'm sure) that you will never forget. i'm glad you are sharing it. how very interesting about the waving...
November 2nd, 2012  
@sticksandstones - Your welcome Jenny. I think watching passengers come and go was serious work. No frivolities.
November 2nd, 2012  
That's quite the set up for the next month. I'm excited....
November 2nd, 2012  
Good shot. How strange that no adult waved back to you.
November 3rd, 2012  
@hellcat - its gonna be a cracker!

@daisy - too busy being serious.
November 3rd, 2012  
@maggiemae i TOTALLY agree! :)
November 3rd, 2012  
@agentzuckerguss - Aww thank you also Katia, that is sweet of you to say.
November 3rd, 2012  
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