Vines, vines everywhere but not a drop to drink.

“It will take about three hours” our guide Eric said with a sly smile when asked how long the first days’ hike would be.  Six intrepid expats we were, about to depart on a three day odyssey  through dense jungle to the caldera of Lake Erouvi (Billy Mitchell).  Confident in our abilities we set off, oblivious of what we were in for. Our local guides and porters formed a squad of quads, armed with machetes, iron feet and internal access to jungle google maps.  Without us to slow them down they would likely have reached camp in the estimated time, …

Island Time

This Wednesday marks one month since I arrived in Bougainville.  At first it was ticking off the days and now four weeks have almost come and gone. Time doesn’t fly here. In fact, it can crawl slowly, like beads of sweat collecting between spaces. Alone insignificant, but together a pool. Yesterday we trekked through the incoming tide, donned a mask and snorkel and entered the Buka passage. The water was swift and I instantly felt afraid, pulled on a current I could not control. The scene below me: iridescent starfish, pulsating seaweed, a wrinkle of coral, it slipped through my fingers, …

Remembering to forget

  As the rain falls softly outside, bringing with it a welcome drop in temperature, I’m marvelling at how quickly hours have slipped into days have slipped into weeks. How the unfamiliar is quietly untangling and coalescing into a new routine. My work   For the next ten months I will be volunteering at the Bureau for Public Affairs, Media and Communications. It is a government department, responsible for disseminating information from the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG). But its role is so much more than that. The signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement in 2001, stipulated the need for a …

Postcard from the South Pacific

  I have been in Bougainville for just over three days. I sit here beneath my hardworking ceiling fan and listen to the sounds of children playing outside. I live on the top floor of a two story house in the area known as Bushbin. It’s a small community of locals as well as two other VSA volunteers. Across the street is the airport and at midday the local Air Niugini flight from Port Moresby lands and then departs again, passing so close I can see its underbelly. The Bougainville airport is unfenced and when it is not being used …

Vietnam

The first mistake I made was choosing Jetstar. After a nine hour delay in Singapore I arrived at Hanoi Airport, at 1am, completely alone and very reassured by signs everywhere warning “Beware of taxi scams!” The second mistake I made was having an address but no phone number for my …

The only thing to fear….are skis, naturally.

I’d like to think that I’m not a fearful person, that I’m brave and bold and up for anything. Sure there are certain things that I won’t do: like bungee jump, or go on a rollercoaster, or be sans seatbelt in a taxi in Taiwan. It’s not that I’m a …