Plotinus in the Jungle

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6 impossible things before lunchtime

Brandon has claimed this to be one of his favorite days in PNG so far. However, he’s busy with the end of term, so I thought I’d put up this post.

We were invited by John Nambis, the carpenter at Good Shepherd, to come to his local outstation for a church service and then to hike to a waterfall. (John Nambis was already popular in our house for constructing a high chair and guinea pig cage for us).

He sent a relative down the mountain to meet us and walk back up, but we missed each other somehow (odd, as we stand out quite a bit). But we had a nice walk and saw some interesting sights on our way.

Ceremonial grounds for the Jiwaka Pig-Killing Festival

Ceremonial grounds for the Jiwaka Pig-Killing Festival

We missed it this year, but the Festival will apparently be a yearly event

We missed it this year, but the Festival will apparently be a yearly event

Almost there... an I-Beam Bridge?!? How did that get way up this mountain?

Almost there… an I-Beam Bridge?!? How did that get way up this mountain?

A Lutheran church

A Lutheran church

We even managed to get there early, amazingly, so we waited for the catechist to arrive to start the service. As in most places in Papua New Guinea, Fatima Parish doesn’t have enough priests to make it to all the outstations every sunday for mass. So the Eucharist is reserved in the outstations and administered by catechists on the Sundays when a priest can’t get there. The catechist this Sunday was Joseph Goru, father of a seminarian and with whom we had gone hiking before.

The interior of the church

The interior of the church

After the service we set off for the waterfall!

Step one: cross this bridge!

Step one: cross this bridge!

Some of our team of handlers- 7 to 17 year old relatives of John Nambis'

Some of our team of handlers- 7 to 17 year old relatives of John Nambis’

We were grateful to have so much help when it came to the many stream crossings!

We were grateful to have so much help when it came to the many stream crossings!

A natural waterslide- we have to come back with our bathing suits on!

A natural waterslide- we have to come back with our bathing suits on!

Okay, now edge up the side here...

Okay, now edge up the side here…

The last part of the "trail" looked like this- scrambling up the riverbed coming from the waterfall!

The last part of the “trail” looked like this- scrambling up the riverbed coming from the waterfall!

It was truly astounding how clumsy I was during this hike. 7 year olds were leaping up and over obstacles and I was tottering along with someone to hold my elbow. I really could not have made it or would have attempted to make it without help! John Nambis said at one point something to the effect of, “Well, you may be clumsy as all get-out, but at least you’re not slow, like some other expats!” I had to remind myself that while I could not bound along the edges of rushing streambeds or through overgrown jungle with the greatest of ease, each culture gives its children different skills tailored for their environments…

Brandon, fighting his way past some vines overhanging the slippery rock he was trying to scale, said “This had better be some waterfall!”

Oh, it was indeed.

We made it! It's gorgeous!

We made it! It’s gorgeous!

There's a freefall at the top that almost looks like it could be shooting upwards

There’s a freefall at the top that almost looks like it could be shooting upwards

Brandon even took a little dip!

Brandon even took a little dip!

We ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and admired the view. We managed to bring enough such that all the handlers could have some! John Namibs disappared into the jungle for a while to cut down some saplings so that we could have walking sticks. It was a huge help on the way down- otherwise I think I would have rolled or slid the entire way! Even so I wiped out several times!

A view of the waterfall as we were leaving

A view of the waterfall as we were leaving

A bong-tree! "In the land where the bong tree grows.." Guides are not as psyched as I am.

A bong-tree! “In the land where the bong tree grows..” Guides are not as psyched as I am.

A view of the lovely valley

A view of the lovely valley

Then we walked another hour and a half back home! We stopped and enjoyed some chapati with onions from a roadside stand and made it back before dinnertime, happy and exhausted.

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