It seems that half the town is at the market, this being the only free day for many to go shopping. The sellers are all there early in the morning, lugging huge stretchy bilums full of whatever they have to sell, and setting up a display on their tiny patch of cement ground or on one of the long cement benches. They carefully stack their goods and balance on top a cardboard square with the price clearly marked. So by 8am, it is a kaleidoscope of different faces, colours and voices as people jostle in the narrow passageways, compare different things on offer, verbally joust with the sellers, laugh with the friends they meet, and probably discuss the week's menu options.
As we enter the gate, you will see clothing festooning almost every inch of the wire perimiter fence, and providing shade for the plastic shopping bag sellers (heavy rice-sacks cut and sewn into big shoulder bags). One of the 4 open-sided pavillions houses all the crafts..... everything from leather-feather-bone-shell men's head-dresses for ceremonies, to the ubiquitous bark-string bilum bags, necklaces, wood carvings (mostly crocodiles, the symbol of the province), woven grass bags of all shapes and sizes, and mats.
Another pavillion houses the various meat products, fresh, cooked, live or smoked - fish, clams, prawns, lobster, crabs, sago grubs, turtle, crocodile, wild or domestic boar, or bats. No boring old chicken or beef here in this market, though we can get them frozen in the small supermarkets elsewhere.
Then there are all the vegetables and fruits in every other available space within the fence, making for very colourful displays, especially the outside ones under gaudy umbrellas. Most western recipes have to be adapted.....some things substituted, and others reduced.....when small onions cost $1 each, you don't use too many! Potatoes are very rare, but sweet potato is abundant. Peas and carrots won't be found, but there are many other interesting things to try!
And of course, you have to get used to the money. PNG Kina notes are colourful and plastic, because of it being printed in Australia, and the Kina and Toya coins are easily differentiated....we like the 1 Kina with the hole in the middle! And it is worth 40c Aussie, so not hard to figure out.
OK.....time to go home now and store, cut, cook, eat, freeze, share all the goodies we found. Thanks for coming along!