Sunday, November 27, 2011

Survivor: POC edition ;)

After a seven-hour ride in the back of the Hino, I’m now in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, settling in what feels like absolutely luxurious accommodations at Ukarumpa (I’m renting a house along with several other girls, so I actually have a kitchen!). It’s time for another orientation as I learn to live where it is cold (yes, I have thoroughly acclimatized to the tropics, and thus, the chilly mornings are worthy of sweatshirts and pants under the skirt).

Actually, we sat on mattresses, making this perhaps the most comfortable vehicle ride yet.
Despite the large load of luggage swaying in the back, we all promptly fell asleep.

Welcome to Ukarumpa! I shake hands with one and all as my new coworkers greet me with delight. We’re glad you survived POC!

POC is one of those experiences where the stories are best told in whispers by firelight, as you hear creepy birds sing out from the forests and bats dart overhead. There are the rumors of the sharks in the bay, the grubs on your lunch plate, and the mosquitoes that could carry off a young child. While I won’t confirm or deny any of these previous stories…. I will give you ten of my own tips for surviving POC. :-)

  1. Never sit under a coconut tree, unless you feel like reenacting a Pacific version of Newton as gravity once again consistently works its magic on something rather larger than an apple…
  2. Klostu. (Pronounced: CLOSE-TOO. Used in the response of a Papua New Guinean when you want to know how much further you must hike.) You don’t know what it means. Ever. The sooner you accept it, the sooner you will be happy.
  3. Not all flipflops/thongs are made equal. Know where yours stand on the Ease of Destruction scale.
  4. When cooking over a fire, smearing the outside of your pots with dishwashing soap before use will make clean-up a cinch. On the other hand, if you accidently use kerosene, you might be scrubbing with steel wool for quite a long time… (Thank you to a fellow POCer for personally testing this theory!)
  5. All cooking ingredients are optional. Really.
  6. I always used to wonder why hundreds of frogs would be a plague in Egypt. Now I know: after the rain, beware the stupidity of frogs who jump into walls, legs, posts, doors, and who knows what else…
  7. Unless you were a champion at I Spy books, I suggest having a wide variety of photos in your album, as coming up with new conversation topics can be challenging when you flip through it for the 7,265th time.
  8. Your umbrella is your friend, and you would do well to give it a name, considering the amount of time you will spend together. Otherwise, you will stand there…watching…waiting…waiting… knowing that your dorm room is only 30 meters away, but you can’t see it for the blinding sheets of rain that must be leftover from Noah’s Flood.
  9. Hot showers are only available at the hottest part of the day.
  10. Forget the hiking boots. When you attempt to scale PNG mountain paths in the rainy season, I recommend ice crampons.