Not a very inspiring day. Very much the same as yesterday, in fact, only rather less so. I have vague recollections of us docking at Tufi at some impossible hour of the morning, + I got up to check our belongings, in case some light-fingered New Guinean had made off with them. (In fact, they had – as far as my flip-flops at any rate, but I didn’t discover this until later.) I recall not being over-impressed with what tiny part of Tufi I could barely see, + returning to bed, only to wake much later, the sun streaming down out of a perfect sky, + us nearly returned to Oro Bay. We docked at around 9.30, we ate some soggy bran, + then Val, she being the one with shoes, rushed off to purchase further provisions before the boat left. She needn’t have worried, since as things turned out she had time to get to Popondetta + back, but at that hour of the morning, with the sun still bright in the sky, we were still hopeful.
Spent the rest of the day reading, + chatting with the occasional local. One was Raymond, a pleasant young soul I’d met yesterday – he brought us a present of 2 coconuts. And there was another lady, making a fortune she told us, like many of her fellow Highlanders, by coming down to Popondetta to buy betel nuts by the sackful, to sell at a large profit back home. The unloading + loading of the vessel, the remainder of the work left over from yesterday, took all day. But eventually, at around 9 (or 10 or 11 – one becomes numbed to the effects + passage of time) we cast off our moorings + left. So from being just a few hours behind the others, we found ourselves 6 days behind, with our time in PNG rapidly running out, + so little seen. We must return tho’, I feel, to visit New Britain + the other outer isles.
Raymond appeared after dark with another present, 2 parcels of boiled rice wrapped up in a leaf, tied up into cigar shapes. The rice I found bland + unpalatable, but I was intrigued by the biodegradable packaging, + much appreciated the gesture. I had been about to fix up Walter Walkman to listen to some music, so Raymond + I sat on my bunk + listened. First was Side 2 of “A Nice Pair”, not my favourite tape, + then PG Live, which I am appreciating more + more. Raymond seemed to enjoy it too. And then fatigue (or ennui) setting in, laid down to sleep.
Simply passing time as best we could, waiting to arrive somewhere and so able to continue our journey. But managed to chat with various local people – not always our strength.