Time to get caught up on what we’ve been doing! A few weeks ago, we took our first road trip in Papua New Guinea. An Italian priest, Father Ciro, was giving away some of his books to the Seminary, and we went with the Rector to go pick them up. We went to Goroka, a city two provinces over. Google will tell you that such a trip, of 120 km, should take you less than two hours. Given the condition of the road– and this is the major highway– it took us at least double, if not two and a half times that. At some points the pavement has deteriorated into potholes to such an extent that there is only a meter-wide strip of asphalt left. They really need some geotechnical engineers out here, to tell them their soil is all going to wash away if they don’t do something about it.
We passed through the mountainous Simbu province (more on that province in a different post) and into the Eastern Highlands. On our way, we stopped at a coffee processing factory with a little canteen selling sandwiches and their own coffee. It was really excellent coffee. We tried to walk around a little bit but were stopped by security! No guided tour. Oh well.
We stayed in one of the guesthouses attached to the Bishop’s residence. It was lovely- we ate meals with the Bishop and a retired bishop, and browsed in their reading room. One evening a priest named Fr. Matthew Lando came over and talked with Brandon for quite a while- the first Papua New Guinean with a PhD in philosophy he had met!
The next day we went to see the University of Goroka. They have some great architecture there:
For Brandon and me, the highlight of this stop was the library. An actual university library! We could have spent way more time in there but Anastasia was too impatient.
We attempted to see the museum (the only one in the Highlands) but it was open only by appointment. So we moved on to the Melanesian Institute. This had its own library, mostly of anthropological works. I spent all my time in there, writing down titles, but Brandon and Anastasia saw more of the building.
We went out for lunch at a Chinese restaurant (the nearest one to us!) and then did a little shopping. Goroka is more tourist-oriented (as evidenced by the fact that a man tried to sell me model bows and arrows as soon as I stepped out of the car) than Mount Hagen and had a slightly better selection of some things- like spices! I found italian seasoning, which made me happy.
Then we returned in hopes that Annie would take a nap, but to no avail. So we asked one of the security guards to take us for a walk. It was pleasant just to wander through small villages and admire the scenery.
And the next day we were driving back, bumping along curving roads. (“Aiie! This pothole is as deep as Lake Kotubu, where they are doing the mining!”) Father Clement, the rector, was good enough to play with Anastasia when Brandon and I felt too carsick! We stopped at the Catholic headquarters in Simbu province to stretch our legs and get a snack. Kefamo, as it is known, was the first outpost of Catholics in the Highlands. Here is the original church:
We enjoyed our trip to Goroka and are thinking of going back in September, for the Goroka Cultural Show and to see the museum.