We made it in to Mendi (in the Southern Highlands of PNG) this afternoon! A total of 79 hours from when we left the house Tuesday morning!
Flight to LA went without a hitch. Met with Sr. Rene in LA and spent the afternoon seeing the area and eating at the local spots.
Thought for sure I would sleep most of the flight to Brisbane, but no such luck. Did get some napping in and watched the movie The Bucket List – good one.
Flight out of Brisbane was an hour late leaving but smooth – in fact all the flights were pretty smooth. Got to Port Moresby to find that Miri’s luggage made it but mine never left LA. Hubert at the Port Moresby International Airport was a trooper – tracked it down and made sure it found its way to PNG, a day later than me, but before we left again for Mendi, so that was good. The nuns at Xavier Institute who were housing us till we moved on supplied a t-shirt, undies and a lap-lap (wrap around cloth that looks very much like the one I use for a shawl).
Everyone is SOOOOOO welcoming, open, friendly, smiling.
Port Moresby was very dry and hot, although being on the coast the air was humid. They are in their windy season, thank goodness – the breezes were wonderful. The nights were pleasantly cool. The houses are set up to catch every bit of breeze that might come through and to deflect the sun as much as possible. Xavier Institue where we stayed is sort of like a hostel for religious – people come and go as they travel through PNG, some come for the occasional class offered. Simple but sufficient housing and meals.
While there we were toured around the area – saw a bit of downtown Port Moresby, some market areas, and the Parliament building. Actually got into the chamber while Parliament was sitting – the locals thought that was a very exciting thing to do!
Mendi is gorgeous – mountains a little more rugged than the Smokies but very forested, flowers blooming everywhere, streams running full tilt. Heavy rain showers every day. The village is more than a mile high, altitude-wise.
We were met by most of the village waiting at the airport – nothing special as they do that for every flight in. BUT, there were about 10 Capuchin priests on the plane with us, so with the guys and us two visitors for the nuns, we were met outside the mission area by a female welcoming committee! Two dancers and about 8 singers all in grass skirts and face paint.
We were presented with leis, shook hands all around and then were processed into the village with constant song and dance. What fun! The full royal treatment! The singers kept at it long after everyone in town had shaken our hands and the nuns had had enough. <g>
A simple lunch with avocado grown in the back yard and locally grown carrots – and fried spam! Then took a little walk to see the cathedral up the hill from the nuns’ house. While inside the clouds let loose and thundered on the tin roof – glorious! A small crowd of boys trooped in out of the rain and gave us an impromptu serenade.
Just amazing how no one is in the least bit shy. They come right up to you and introduce themselves, welcoming you to PNG and Mendi. We feel like celebrities – or politicians!