Pomyea by bobfoto

Pomyea

So when we weren't resting or chatting to fellow travellers, we would walk up and down on an old track that used to hold vehicular traffic, but now just accommodates foot traffic of people walking from village to village, a day or two walk into the town to buy supplies.

Along the way are tiny timber buildings with thatched roofs and inside will often sit a man or woman with a saucepan of boiling water. For 20toea (around 10cents) you can buy a cup of hot water flavoured with sugar and coffee or tea. In these Kopi Haus everyone sits down in the cool dark and they talk about general stuff and they sip their drinks. After, everyone shakes hands and people start walking again. During our walk we left Chimbu Province and entered Madang Province.

At the end of the day we reached the village of Pomyea, high up on a razorback ridge, this spine of a mountain had a series of homes propped up on top. The garden beds were down off to the left or right hand side and it was hundreds of metres down below to the valley floor. The edge of the spine enough room for a track and a haus.

We camped inside the Man Haus (a place for the community to get together and resolve any disagreements or plan the next phase in the lives of the local families), it had bamboo floors, a huge bamboo bed along one wall and another on the opposite side. On the bamboo floor were two small fires and this would always have water boiling on one of them. The false roof was a floating raft of timber that would eventually dry to become fire wood. It rained constantly in the mountains so dry firewood was essential. During the dry season it would rain only at night time and during the wet season it would only rain. At 3,200mASL it was cool, damp and steamy.

In the afternoon, a few kids came into our house to see what the white guys were doing. Some of the kids had never seen white skin before so as we all sat around the fire telling stories, some of the kids would slowly stroke my GF's arm or cheekily poke at my skinny legs. They would look really shy, but gave a big cheeky smile when they realised our skin felt the same as theirs.

My GF showed the kids a slide show on the back of her camera of images around Port Moresby, a city the kids had only heard about. They were spellbound of images of roads and cars and steel and brick.

Around 6pm, other adults came into the house to chat with us and talk of the time when the road was sealed and passed nearby, they told us about how miners were coming to the area looking for gas and gold. We pulled out our food supplies and the women got cooking, there was heaps of rice, noodles, tinned fish, pumpkin tops, greens and sweet potato. Plates were being piled up and food was disappearing down hungry mouths. The children eating more than 3 or 4 times what I was trying to eat.

Boss Ishmael said to me that the village rarely gets visitors so with all this food we had carried, they felt we should celebrate with a feast. I was concerned that by eating all of our supplies on the first night, we would have nothing left for the rest of our journey, but Ishmael said it would be okay. Let's eat now.

Outside there was a torrential downpour that lasted maybe one hour. During the middle of the downpour, a young boy appeared in the doorway, he was saturated. He stepped inside and removed all of his wet clothing, and then dried himself off by the fire. A pair of shorts appeared from one mother and he was dressed again. His wet clothes hanging above the fire now to dry off. I asked the young boy where he had been and he replied that he had just run home from school. I said that it was late for him to be getting home and he said that school was a 2 hour run away and he had played soccer with his friends before coming home in the rain.

I asked him where were all his other school friends and he said he was the only one from Pomyea who went to the school at Snopas. And I pointed at all the other kids who were still eating sweet potato and rice and I asked why they did not go to school and the young boy said that the other kids did not like school so they didn't go. He said he liked school and would keep going and would one day leave Pomyea and work in a city and drive a car and fly in a plane.

He then sat down and ate a big pile of food.

Inside the house, there were maybe 30 people, kids, mums, uncles, a granddad, our porters and guides, my GF and I. All the men slept on one bamboo bed and all the ladies and babies slept on the other bed on the other side of the room. The kids all slept on the floor.

One huge slumber party.

Photo taken 13 November 2008
Completely amazing. Love the umbrellas incongruously in this shot.
November 24th, 2012  
Great shot of a house amongst the clouds but and even better story of life in a different world! What an amazing young man to spend that much time to get to and from school every day!
November 24th, 2012  
@archaeofrog - Thanks Katie, it was an amazing spot to stop and rest.
November 24th, 2012  
@grammyn - It would be nice if the young boy inspired some of his other friends though.
November 24th, 2012  
@bobfoto Maybe he will change his mind and come back as a teacher!
November 24th, 2012  
@grammyn - I did meet two teachers in PNG that did exactly that.
November 24th, 2012  
@bobfoto There you go! Hope for the next generation!
November 24th, 2012  
What a tale....what a life...I cannot imagine. About the photo...is that white behind the roof of the hut a bit of the path? And it goes between those two trees? What an amazing place. The bright umbrellas seem odd there, but well, I guess it DOES rain alot! So might as well have bright umbrellas, right? As a teacher, I am amazed at that child who had the fire in his gut to go to school and get out of the area.
November 24th, 2012  
Great story, especially about the boy who runs for 2 hours to and from school every day. Hope he goes far in his life and eventually inspires some of the other kids to do the same.
November 24th, 2012  
Great shot. This photo tells me about the area. Fantastic story. I hope the one boy does stick in school.
November 24th, 2012  
Right on top with clouds all around
November 24th, 2012  
Great story, and good on that little kid taking himself to school. He should be pretty fit running 2 hours each way every day - and still having the energy to play soccer!! Fantastic shot and colours.
November 24th, 2012  
Have i told you before how much I enjoy your stories? :) Another amazing tale & shot
November 24th, 2012  
Love those clouds! you have been blessed to see the places you share with us!
November 24th, 2012  
woa! so terrific jd!! :) and i guess this boy will fulfill his dreams... the energy of youth... inspiring! :)
November 24th, 2012  
I love your stories! Your new name should be Adventure Man. Love the photo-----it's gorgeous!
November 25th, 2012  
@espyetta - that is a path MeryBeth and in the distance you can see another house between those two trees. And everyone in the highlands of PNG have bright umbrellas.

@girlie @daisy @georgews @agentzuckerguss - Tomorrow, I shall update you all about Chapter 2 of the Boy who runs to school.

@tigerdreamer - This is right on top of PNG!

@michelleyoung - I think you might have, but I don't mind if you feel the need to say it again. ;)

@loztsoul - Happy to share Trevor.

@kenteroo - Oh thank you Kenteroo :D
November 25th, 2012  
Awesome story and picture!
November 25th, 2012  
@olivetreeann - Thanks Ann :)
November 25th, 2012  
Looks like an illustration for a great story!
November 25th, 2012  
@swguevin - Thanks Sheila :)
November 25th, 2012  
On top of the world. I can just picture all those people piled everywhere to sleep. I look forward to reading chapter 2.
November 25th, 2012  
@rvwalker - it was a cool thing to see, everyone sleeping. Very communal.
November 25th, 2012  
What a fabulous place for a little house!
November 25th, 2012  
@kjarn - very isolated.
November 25th, 2012  
Peace and quiet!
November 25th, 2012  
Wonderful! Everything.
November 25th, 2012  
lovely mood to this
November 25th, 2012  
Magical.
November 25th, 2012  
Another fabulous shot and I really love this story.
November 25th, 2012  
A wonderful story!! It certainly looks very high up!!
November 25th, 2012  
What a beautiful spot to perch a hut! Wouldn't mind waking up to that view.
November 26th, 2012  
Gorgeous location. Love reading your stories about the people and their customs.
November 26th, 2012  
@kjarn - indeed.

@mandyj92 - Thanks Amanda :)

@houdiniem - lots of sighing going on.

@nikkic - yes.

@cmuir1963 - Thank you Cindy :)

@carolmw - It was wayyyy up in the clouds!

@worldbiking - Wait until the morning view I am about to post.

@tthompsonca - Thank you Terri, thanks. :)
November 26th, 2012  
Wow and they say 3s a crowd. ;) Good for that little boy, keeping up with his education no matter what he does and where he goes. And I totally remember in the slums of Nairobi the little one endlessly stroking my white arms with their blonde hair or playing with my wife's long blonde hair. They were amazed. :)
November 29th, 2012  
@geocacheking - that's the moment. Their amazement is very touching.
November 29th, 2012  
@bobfoto Truly. And a great reminder about the blessing of being able to travel and meet other faces and cultures, that many don't get. Ugggh! This is making me want to go back. :)
November 29th, 2012  
@geocacheking - I know how you feel.
November 30th, 2012  
Marvellous. (The tea has already gone down of course and the cat has gone but I'm still here taking it all in).
I felt wrong to be surprised at Susan's travelling, but having read this, perhaps she was indeed more of a rarity among the other locals?
November 30th, 2012  
@filsie65 - No, all the Highland women are amazeballs!
November 30th, 2012  
Wow.... that's a pretty incredible picture. Hopefully it was a fun slumber party. I don't know how I'd feel sleeping next to strangers, but you seemed to have survived it well enough.
December 2nd, 2012  
@hellcat - I kept my pants on.
December 3rd, 2012  
I'm assuming everyone did...
December 3rd, 2012  
Hopefully
December 3rd, 2012  
@hellcat - It was cold up there in the mountains.
December 3rd, 2012  
lol, it does get chilly in higher elevations. :D
December 3rd, 2012  
@hellcat - happy the two small fires on the floor continued to glow throughout the night.
December 5th, 2012  
Lol. Doing hand checks we're you?
December 7th, 2012  
@hellcat - hand checks?
December 7th, 2012  
Oh... that's where you make sure everyone's hands were where they were supposed to be and not being sneaky. :)
December 8th, 2012  
@hellcat - bit like when Steve Martin and John Candy where sharing a bed in Planes, Trains and Automobiles?
December 8th, 2012  
lol...yep
December 8th, 2012  
@hellcat - Great ball game last night eh?
December 8th, 2012  
What?
I think that means something other than what it says --- sneaky.
December 9th, 2012  
and no.
December 9th, 2012  
@hellcat - I think that is what John Candy says to Steve Martin after they notice one of them saying that their hands are nice and warm between the two pillows...
December 9th, 2012  
Well crap, your memory is hella better than mine.
December 9th, 2012  
@hellcat - it was a guy moment.
December 10th, 2012  
well, I can see that.
December 18th, 2012  
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