Soon, the islands of the Strait were in the distance. The
It would please Al Gore to hear that at the termination of the last Ice Age, approximately 12,000 years ago, the rising sea submerged what was formerly a land-bridge between our two countries. (Definite signals of “Global Warming”, Mr. Gore!) Many of the western
Torres Strait Islanders are Melanesians, distinct from the Australian Aboriginal. The population of the islands is approximately 8,000.
Seated next to me on the flight to
“What do you mean?” I asked. My curiosity aroused.
“Just that…they walk every where…coming and going, coming and going…never in a hurry…just walking. I don’t know if they ever get to where they’re going or if where they started from…but, you’ll see…they just…walk. You’ll see what I mean when we get there.”
The airport overflowed with people. A crowd milled around inside and outside of terminal building. Some sat on the floor, with their backs resting against the walls or whatever other support they could find. Some didn’t bother with any support. Security guards and police, with sniffing German Shepherds at their sides, created an ominous presence.
“Anyone trying to smuggle drugs into this country, would be a fool!” I mumbled softly out of the corner of my mouth to my flight companion, to whose side I’d become glued!
Finally, we collected our luggage, eagerly exiting the airport terminal to our waiting Avis cars. Outside, everywhere I looked, the Nationals (Papua New Guineans) were crouched under trees, palm trees, on lawns, on the footpaths, anywhere they could find a spot on which to sit. En route to our hotel, “The Islander”, I began to understand what Tony, my well-informed flight companion, had tried to explain to me. All along the way, on both sides of the road leading into Moresby, people were walking, some that way, some this way. Nobody seemed to be in a hurry to get to where they were going or vice versa. They “just walked”!
The trip from the airport to our hotel didn’t take long. Driving into the grounds of the hotel, once again I noticed New Guinea Nationals sitting along the fence line, under the decorative palm trees, next to shrubs, in the hotel gardens, everywhere. Alighting from our respective vehicles at the hotel, we gathered together in a cluster. Standing on the stairs leading to the foyer and reception desk, were three or four well-built, serious-looking
The government elections had been held just prior to our visit and while the votes were being collected and counted, a prohibition on alcohol had been in force. A prolonged wave of violent crime in
Again, quietly, I mumbled to my companions. “From this moment on, there is an imaginary chain linking all of us together. Where each one of us goes, the other goes! It’s all for one and one for all!” Agreement to my plan came from all quarters!
After depositing my luggage to my room and freshening up, by pre-arrangement, I met Tony, my-flight-companion-Avis-man in the hotel lobby. With another couple of partners-in-crime, he took us on a guided tour around the
I’d never been to
Arriving back at our hotel a while later, the four of us, three men and me, decided we’d go into the bar for a drink before showering and changing for the evening’s event that was to commence around . The bar wasn’t much bigger than mine on Hinchinbrook, but where I had only one bar person in attendance at my bar, the bar in “The Islander” Hotel, had six barmen, that I could see, working it, in the short time we were there!
We stayed only a couple of minutes. I looked around the room and the bar. I quickly realized the three men I was with were the only white men in the bar. I was the only white woman.
Quietly, I said to my companions, “I don’t feel very comfortable in here. I’m going back to my room and if anyone wants to join me for a drink there or maybe in one of your rooms, please feel free.”
Everyone nodded in agreement and we retired to someone’s room…I can’t remember whose now, where we shared a couple of cold beers before going our separate ways, with plans to meet up a little while later at the special dinner that was being held in honour of us traveling, tourism troubadours.
The fun was about to commence!
To Be Continued.....