Plotinus in the Jungle

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Life on the other side of the road


I often go walking with my girls on the footpaths around the seminary property. The people we meet are friendly. Annie knows some of the local language, which delights the local people, who try to get her to speak in it. When children hear us, they come running, shouting “Annie, Annie!”

As you’ve seen in past posts, the living conditions at the seminary are pretty western. We have western appliances, plumbing, wooden floors and metal roofs, etc. Here are some pictures of the village just across the road from the seminary. All the land around us is owned by the church and some of the land by the Warakar River has been settled by local people, many of whom work at the various institutions at Fatima. Many of them live in traditional housing and grow much of their own food.

???????????????????????????????Here is part of a large farm.  The main crop is sweet potato, known as kaukau in PNG.  Notice the square raised beds?  This style of gardening has been practiced in PNG for 8,000 years or so.  All the extra rain water is drained through the ditches, thereby keeping the crops from getting washed away.

???????????????????????????????This man is building the frame of a traditional house.  The roof will be thatch and the walls woven grass (as you can see in the background).  Sometimes the cardboard from old boxes is used for further insulation.  We entered one house whose interior walls were based on ice cream cartons!  Traditional houses last for about five years.  They are then knocked down and rebuilt from scratch.



Here is the path that runs through the village.  On the left are beans.  On the right is a decorative grass known as tanket.  PNG nationals often line their roads and walks with it.  Traditionally I think that tanket was supposed to have magical protective properties, but I am not sure how many people still believe that.


The Warakar was deep banks and a large floodplain.  We are looking down the bank at a fishpond and farm.  Water has been diverted from the river to this pond which was well stocked with fish.  Annie and I used to enjoy walking down to the fishpond and feeding the fish with stale bread.  Sadly, there was a flood about a month ago and all the fish escaped (this picture is from November 2014).  The area seemed to be abandoned and the paths were overgrown.  No more fishpond walks for us!


Local mothers and children.  Women often stay at home to care for the children, pigs, and vegetable garden while the husband goes off to work.  Unfortunately, this often means that if the husband can’t find work, he will just ‘roam around’ while the women keep doing their share.

???????????????????????????????Here are gardens down in the floodplain.  PNG is traditionally an agricultural society and they know how to garden very well.  These gardens seemed to have escaped the flooding mostly intact.


Here is the home of our security guard Anton and his wife Pena.  The material disparity between myself and Anton was a little embarrassing to me, but Anton and his wife were very happy that we wanted to take pictures of them and their house.  Btw, I won’t want to mess with Anton – would you????????????????????????????????

This is their kitchen.  Just a little space in the front of the house.  Many people have a separate cookhouse or hauswin where they cook their food over a fire.

???????????????????????????????Here is their living room.  I decided not to advance further.  Pictorial art is hard to come by in PNG, hence the magazine clippings as decoration.


Now you’ve met our neighbors!


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