Hi there! How has your week been so far?
Well, PNG advertises itself as "The Land of the Unexpected", and yesterday was a good example of that! We managed to get to the (well before) dawn Anzac service, run by the 2 Aussies at the local military base. As there are only 6 other Aussies in Wewak, and no Kiwis, we were glad of the 20 or so PNG military, the governor and several other local folks who came along to raise flags and lay wreaths at the memorial in town.
Then suddenly, our boss said, "We have spare seats with us going to Aitape. Come along!" So an hour later, we were all at the airport as the 10-seater Cessna Caravan was readied for a full day of 10 flights, ours being the first and last. Heading west along the coast, we had spectacular views of Wewak, and then followed the coastal lowlands between views of the offshore islands to the right, and jungle, rivers and distant mountains to the left. The caravan is very roomy, and has terrific windows for seeing everything. After 30 minutes or so, the pilot landed on the rough grass strip and dropped us all off for the day, estimating he'd be back to collect us again by 4.
Aitape is a small town where CBM just completed building a new bookshop to avoid more high rental. It is also the site of a fatal MAF crash in 1979, when a whole Australian CMML missionary family of 5 was lost, along with their pilot, on their way home to Aitape from conference. The community built an elementary school dedicated to them, and yesterday the new little bookshop was dedicated and named Wilkinson Hall.
It was a stinking HOT day, but we walked around town to get an idea of the size and surroundings ...and found everyone VERY friendly, and lots of civic pride. The beach and little river are picturesque, the shady Rain Trees sheltering the vegetable market are huge, and there are 8 little grocery shops, 2 small places to buy cooked food, and 1 sole bookshop. We went with the driver to visit the Wilkinson Memorial elementary school. They agreed to bring over the second graders to the little ceremony, and afterwards everyone got coconut water to drink, and a writing book and other interesting things from the shop.
When we landed, Jim had spotted a wrecked American WW2 bomber down there, so we had to find that and have a look! A B25 Mitchell medium bomber, sitting in a school yard!
It was a very interesting day, and certainly unexpected! ....enjoy the photos!
Robyn and Jim
Robyn and Jim Nottingham.