Much running around today. First job was to send off a large parcel home. Our usual bits + pieces – books, photos, leaflets – plus, the most important part, especially in terms of decreasing the weight in our packs, our sleeping bags. Sure it would be nice to carry them along with us for the trail, but that would mean lugging them thro’ the rest of New Guinea, + Indonesia too, before we could arrive at Singapore + a safe place to send them from. It’s a shame really, because I’d been greatly looking forward to dumping one pack altogether, + now it’s been granted a reprieve. Tho’ not, I very much hope, for long. That piece of work went off very nicely – our next was a virtual disaster.
We went to the Air Niugini office, to see whether, by some chance, our passports had returned from Sydney. They hadn’t, but Marion, the lady handling our affairs, was good enough to ring them up + chase them for us. It seemed tho’, that not only had the embassy not processed + returned our passports, they hadn’t even received them yet. It sounded suspicious to us, especially since we’d sent the bloody things priority paid + certified last Tuesday, but we rushed off down to the Post Office to check it out. They sounded a bit incredulous about it too, but asked us to come back in the afternoon once they’d had a chance to look into it.
So Val + I trudged back to the hotel feeling, as you can imagine, pretty despondent, with the prospect of getting out on Wednesday looking increasingly remote. The afternoon brought information without satisfaction. It seemed the Post Office had located the letter. It was, contrary to our prejudices regarding the Indonesian embassy, entirely the fault of Australia Post, who had taken a week to deliver a package sent on an overnight service. Or advertised as such, I should say. They were, they told us, happy to refund the postage we had paid to send the thing (tho’ not the postage we had included on the return envelope) but that was really bugger all good to us. If we wanted for the passports to come back to us thro’ the post, that would most likely delay our flight by a week, + a week of living in Australia is not cheap. Or we could at least try to have the passports flown up to us by some other means, such as TNT courier, but that would be expensive, + by no means certain. The only real consolation was that we did at least know where they were. They had just arrived in Sydney, or so we were told. Val was seething about the whole affair, but the bloke was perfectly firm +, to be fair, only doing his job. (As I’d reminded Val, the same job she’d once had.) Priority paid was a priority, but not a guaranteed service, + because of various problems such as air strikes, plus, the bloke implied but did not say, a monumental cock-up at this end, it had arrived late. So we received $2.60 + no satisfaction whatever.
What was more, when we rang the Indonesian embassy again, they were still insistent it wasn’t there. So back once more to the Post Office to check again, + in their own way, they were both right. The package was now sitting in the Indonesian embassy’s box, waiting to be picked up. So, on that score there was nothing more we could do. Till tomorrow, anyway.
The only other thing we did with the day was to check out what foods we could, + couldn’t take. By chance, a lot of other people, 6 or 7 anyway, from the hostel, are heading up to New Guinea at the same time as us, most of them to walk the trail, + they had arranged to go to the Dept of Primary Industries office this afternoon, where the guy was going to give the lowdown on what foods we could + couldn’t take into PNG. In fact, he was able to do nothing of the kind. A few maybes, several perhapses, + 1 or 2 all depends were all he could offer. Which I suppose was more or less what I expected, but one never knows, does one.
In the evening, the video was “Airplane” (OR “Flying High”, as it is called in Australia), + tho’ Val + I had seen it before, we’d enjoyed it, so decided to give it another go. Not nearly as funny this time, showing, I reckon, that it wasn’t a good film, it just had good jokes. Which fell on their face rather the second time around. And afterwards I saw some English football, Newcastle v Charlton. West Ham have gone thro’ their usual good start, + started on their usual slump. Doubtless, they will end the season desperately staving off relegation.
Just the sort of cock-up we were desperate to avoid, especially if it meant staying in Australia for another week or so – desperately expensive, and as must be clear from the diary, we were just about sick of Australia in general and Cairns in particular, so were desperate to move on.