Gear box out (and this time Ralph didn’t have to do it…YAY), damage assessed….bank trip undertaken and supermarket visited…so we have money, fresh food, phone credits, a basic internet connection and are a step closer to resolving our gear box dilemma.

We’ve had an amazing amount of assistance from the yacht club. I’ve even had a driver and security escort to go shopping…yes a security escort! What a strange sensation that is. This time of year is the worst apparently (with the crime levels peaking in an attempt to gain extra cash for Christmas) so the yacht club staff recommended and provided the escort. Not so sure it was necessary but it certainly made the supermarket shopping easier, having a car and someone to help carry the bags, so I’m not complaining in the slightest.

Lae is truly a hole of a place. Roads are washed out and downright dangerous to navigate. Even the main streets in Lae are almost non-existent; with potholes so deep I reckon they’d have their own tide. Dust and grime cover every building and every store has a surly looking security guard standing outside, with doors often reinforced with bars. The bank (for that matter all banks) had surveillance and security guards at every entrance. It looked incredibly busy as it was government pay day, so the queues to every atm in town stretched as far as the eye could see! So all in all Lae is not what you’d call one of PNGs most picturesque places…although I have to say…I’ve certainly seen worse.

That’s in stark contrast to the ex-pat enclave we’ve found ourselves enmeshed in at the Lae Yacht Club. Everyone has been incredibly helpful and very welcoming, although I have to say it’s pretty much a gated community with minimal contact from the outside, aside from the staff. Such a weird little isolated world of its own.

It’s an interesting kind of person that chooses to live and work in PNG and the longer we stay I’m sure the more we’ll learn. Aside from our periodic updates to the bar regulars on the status of our gear box, we’ve had some fascinating chats on all sorts of topics… relationships, politics, labour, skill shortages, community organisation, church activity…difficult to relay but over time I’ll write a few down....These are of course no more than bar stories, often exaggerated (or perhaps made more honest) by the odd ‘handle’ (pot) or two but there are some emerging themes that fascinate the hell outta me.