Thursday, November 11, 2010

PNG - A brief vignette with two important morals.

I've just spent 10 days in PNG. (I try to schedule posts while I'm away and avoid announcing my absence on the blog because you never know who's reading!)

I went over to visit Andy, who is finishing up his PhD research over there.  And to have a holiday, because after I submitted my PhD in July I went straight into a crazy semester of teaching, and I was in desperate need of a break.  I was very much looking forward to a trip full of snorkelling, reading, and lounging.

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Although the trip itself takes about 3 hours of actual time in the air, it is spread across nearly 12 hours of travelling.  I was pretty exhausted by the time I made it into the JCU house.  It was after dark (about 6.30 - sunset is ~5.50pm because we are only 5* south of the equator).  Thankfully, Andy cooked a quick dinner and we went to bed fairly early.  I thought I would sleep beautifully.  And I did, until about 10.30, when I woke up itchy as hell and unable to sleep through the hum of mosquitoes in my ear.  At 11, the generator shut off, so the fans were no more.  Despite the heat, I huddled under my sheet, trying to cover as much of my face, neck and ears as possible.  I got very little sleep that night, and woke up with red welts on my face and arms.  The moral of the story - ALWAYS TUCK IN YOUR MOSQUITO NET!

Anyways, Tuesday morning we were up with the generator (which is turned on at 6am) and then headed into town to stock up on food.

 When we came back the sun was bright and I had some time to marvel at my surroundings (sure I had been here before, but when it looks like this, there is no end to the marvelling).  The house we stayed in is at a conservation centre, next door to a dive resort, about 30 minutes outside the town of Kimbe.

While I was out snapping photos, the neighbours' very cute puppy came over for a visit, laying under the stairs and trying to chomp on my hands.

It wasn't a holiday for everyone - Andy (and sometimes his boat driver, Michael) were in the lab every day processing coral samples.  He had preserved them in formalin on an earlier trip and was now decalcifying them, drying them out (in a food dehydrator!), weighing the samples, soaking them in chemicals that dissolve the lipids, drying them again, and re-weighing them.  Good fun!

There was also a bit of field research left to collect - just measuring some corals on the reefs.  So while Andy did that, I snorkelled around, marvelling at the fish and the corals and the algaes and everything else around me.  I'll do a separate post on the underwater world, but here is a photo of our almost-daily trek from the conservation centre to the dive resort where the boat was docked.

 That was the general rhythm of the trip - a few hours in the lab in the morning; a snorkel in the afternoon.  Aside from the mozzie bites, I also suffered from red thighs when I decided that my legs were too white and I would remedy that by snorkelling with no board shorts on.  It hurt to sit for about 2 days.  The moral of this story - TAN LINES ARE BETTER THAN SUN BURNS!  We took a break from routine on Sunday when we hiked up Gubuna, the volcano behind Kilu village.  It was steep, and rainy, and muddy, and deserves its own post.  I will also post about some of the food we ate over there.  But for now, I'll leave you with this little glimpse of my trip.

And this cool lizard, who we transported from the bathroom to the veranda.


Hannah said...

Love love love this post! As someone with a tendency to attract mozzies and skin that burns at the hint of sun, I very much appreciate your advice ;)

Also, that is the best photo of a dog I've ever seen.

David J said...

Collecting coral samples must have some pretty decent fringe benefits.
The snorkeling must be pretty awesome over there.

The Vegan Snorkeler said...

I'm so jealous of your trip! Also, Andy's research sounds cool.

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