The first two weeks in Port Moresby

I am sure I will learn to structure my content around more specific events but at the moment please forgive my broad and brief summation of the situation so far.

Its been almost two weeks in Port Moresby and a lot has happened both logistically and personally. At the beginning there was a lot to get done. The always delightful shopping for food with foreign money for the first time, showing the kids their new kindy/school, getting a security briefing (a new experience for me and not one I will ever get used to) having a driver take you places (something I could easily get used to) and meeting plenty of folks.

The people of Konedobu (the largest of the Australian High Commission compounds) have been exceptionally friendly and welcoming with folks offering to drive us around, exchange movies and in general give us the ‘lie of the land’. The High Commission has been for the most part very organised. Our first week was planned out from the start with meetings and orientations. Also managed to find time for couple of games of tennis and swims in amongst the breaks from the organising.

We even managed to catch-up with some bloggers I had been following prior to the move. Unfortunately expatinpng has gone back to Brisbane but it was great to catch-up and say thank you for her honest and frank depictions of their time here. Also met kiwiexpat and hotstrongcoffee whom I am sure we’ll see more of over here. That evening was also a lesson in how not to drink in humidity and heat.

It has been a great start, with the exception that I have only really seen Port Moresby from behind glass or razor wire. I am adjusting to a way of life that I think will work out nicely, but it certainly doesn’t feel like the real Papua New Guinea, whatever the hell that is. Maybe everyone here, locals and expats alike, are trying figure that one out (the ones with full bellies of course). Will give it some time though.

A few things about our new way of life:

  • Everything in compound life seems to start early here. The kids are at school and K is at work by 8. This WILL be good but when trying to catch up from the trip this is a trying and tiring existence.
  • Due to the lack of wheels and the fact that Port Moresby isn’t the type of town that you can just go for a stroll and check out the cafes anywhere, one needs to be organised. I have come to shop at the supermarket the way one would in the fifties, stocking up for all kinds of disasters (the main one being not being able to get a lift to the supermarket). There is an erratic supply chain here i.e. tacos are here one week and then seen again six months later, so supermarket shopping takes on a certain carpe diem quality (that is worthy of a post in itself).
  • Food is kinda crazy expensive. A good blogger, kiwiexpat who I have had the pleasure to meet over here has a good break down of prices but something weighing 500g will cost five times as much as the 250g version of the same product.
  • Bureaucracy works in reverse. For instance, we had to remove some furniture  from our apartment, so the next day a few guys turn up and happily move what we needed. Ten minutes after they leave the property honcho rings telling me to expect some guys to turn up for the furniture, I tell him they have, all is hunky dorey and we hang up both proud and impressed by this telepathic like efficiency. No sooner had I put the kettle on than K calls telling me the property honcho will call to arrange a time for some guys to happily move what we needed. Benjamin Button eat your heart out.

I think I need to get out more.


It seems the visas are here

It seems our visas are in. This is indeed good news as it appears to be the last piece of the rather large and complicated puzzle that is moving to PNG.

A very broad summary of events preceeding uplift…

We learned of K’s posting in late December 2011 and since then there has been a constant stream of appointments, PDF’s telling you it’ll be alright, courses telling you to be afraid, people and expats over there/been there saying NOT to be afraid, injections and long medical consultations. There has also been wardrobe transplants, googling both carjacking and island resorts at the same time, passport requisition and spending money on all sorts of conceivable things – the best being snorkelling gear and the worst, anti-gastro medkits.

Work officially ended for me a two months ago (with a great send off from the talented and dedicated folk at Monkii whom I miss) and since then the likely lads and I have been hobboing it Huck Fin style (with a car instead of a raft and roofrack instead of carrying our stuff on a stick held over the shoulder). We left Melbourne a few weeks ago and drove north to Canberra to meet our beloved K and then we’ll skip over to the Land of the Unexpected. The lads have been stoic and very patient. They miss their buddies in Melbourne to the extent that even my inspirational appeal to ‘the distant call of adventure’ isn’t going down terribly well. C (our 2 year old) usually replies with a request for clocat or a pam sandwich and D (4 year old) goes ‘yeah’ and then just walks off.

Its been great in Canberra doing some First Aid training and an awesome driving course that made us reverse a 4WD at full speed around a 2.5km circuit using only our mirrors. Also hung out with the lads at Questacon and the Cotter amongst other places and we have said many a fond hello/goodbye to old and new friends. Its now at the the stage where they are texting to see if we are actually THERE yet.

It’s an understatement that after five months (with two living out of a suitcase) we are more than ready to go.