Ruth Bishop's Diary Of Her Walk 15th - 24th April 2007
Posted 25 June 2007 - 05:27 PM
I don't know why (maybe he knew Moses and wanted to tease him with the picture of the old woman he had to look after). Anyway all of a sudden Moses puts his arm around my shoulders for the photo. I thought he has finally accepted me as they don't normally take advantage and put their arms around you. Even when they have to push or pull you up a hill they are very respectful, so I was very glad of the arm around my shoulder. It was a sweet gesture on his part I thought. He tells me more about his family and says he has 3 sisters and 2 brothers. His two brothers Thomas and Joseph are porters as well and he said we would meet one coming the other way today maybe. His sister's names are Keti, Mary and Theresa. His father died in 2000, so I suppose the family had to get together and look after each other, as there is no welfare office in the jungle.
Photograph: me and my fellow trekkers at Brigade Hill:
Posted 25 June 2007 - 05:32 PM
When we first arrived I walked past him sitting there on a log and actually gave him a lolly from my pocket. A little while later he must have gone inside his hut to change into his best coat for the occasion because he was having his photograph taken with us for the princely sum of 10 kina a person. He must have been well into his eighties and was very wizened up but still could tell stories and horrors of the war that took place over 60 years before. He was still very much alert and very happy with life. Who wouldn't be, as he must have just collected about 130 kina from us? He could live pretty well for many weeks on that.
Barry, Ken, Barbie and Dan have gone for a walk around the village to no doubt give out some medications, or to see to the needs of anyone hurt. They came back with a horror story of a woman who has been bleeding in her urine for about two months now and is obviously in much pain. Dan was quite beside himself with worry for this woman as the husband had run after them to tell of her plight. Dan figured this man must have offended the rest of the village in some way as they usually help each other where possible and no one had helped on this occasion. All Dan could do was offer some anti-biotic tablets and collect some food for her, so she could get out to the highway, which we were informed was about a half a days walk away.
Then maybe she could get a lift to a major town for hospital treatment. Having tended this woman Dan did not hold out much hope and it bothered him that there is just not any health facilities in the villages along the track. He knows it is the way of life here, but it doesn't make you feel any happier that these people can die for lack of treatment. It just wouldn't happen in our country. It really brings home to you that these villages are really in the third world as far as basic essentials go.
We are in for another treat tonight as the village has offered to put on a concert for us (for a price of course). The villagers are mostly Seventh Day Adventist along the track, so that accounts for the lack of meat they consume. Because they do not eat meat products the children have all got a bulging tummy, which is a result of not enough protein in their diet. They are still happy though and live with the knowledge that this is how it is with them because of their belief. I feel very sorry for some I see, as they just do not have any hope in life, but their faith in religion holds them strong. It really is amazing to watch these people. We do not mind in the least to part with some money to have a concert in our honour. This is the only way they have of surviving every day.
They will sell you cans of soft drink and fruit and share anything else they have, so we are only too happy give them a few kina along the way. It doesn't look like charity that way, but I would have given them much more if I had it. But on the other hand you can't be seen to give them too much as they will rely on it with future trekkers and it will introduce the begging attitude. We all gather around in the darkening night while the villagers arrange themselves in a group to present their concert. It is really just religious hymns they are singing from their church services, but they have such clear and sweet voices and such innocence about them we enjoy the songs with the children joining in. After their concert we decided to sing them a few songs of our own that we had been singing along the track.
The guides had butchered the song about Old MacDonald's farm and it brought laughter from the villagers and us as we sung it to them. They giggled at the words and noises of the animals from Old Macca Donnell had a farm. They all love to sing and have good voices, so we have a very enjoyable evening. After the sing a long Dan starts to tease the children with lollies and has them running in all directions trying to catch them as they grab them from the bench behind his back. He is very good with the kids and they all had a wonderful time, so all the worries of the trek and village life are forgotten for a few hours of fun. All too soon it was time for the mothers to drag the children kicking and screaming home to their beds and reality once again.
Photograph: Menari Village:
Posted 25 June 2007 - 05:34 PM
What an adventure this was for us all. It was a raging torrent as usual and we had to hang on to the porters who were hanging onto to the ropes that were strung across in case we were washed away. It took 2 people in most cases to get us across because of the current but on my trip there were three of us holding onto poor Ernest who was bravely clinging to the ropes. What a lot of fun it was though and of course the adrenalin was running high by this time as well. It made for a great photo shoot by the others who had reached the other side by then. We set off once again with the three of us bring up the rear. It was amazing just watching the porters literally running down the hill with no fear of falling over and breaking legs or arms. Slipping and sliding is the order of the day today as everyone has mud on their bottoms as they pass in either direction.
Photograph: Nauro River Crossing:
Posted 25 June 2007 - 05:36 PM
Photograph: Ruth and her porter Moses:
Posted 25 June 2007 - 05:39 PM
We pass a few village people who are humping huge packages on their heads and on their backs and carrying the odd child as well. I can't believe the speed they move at with all that baggage. I suppose they are used to it though as they'd probably been doing it all their lives. Later on we caught up with the same group and they were having a picnic lunch sitting on a log in the jungle. Nice place to have a picnic lunch I called out to them and they laughed merrily and sent us on our way with huge smiles and waves even from the children. So simple these folk, yet so happy with their way of life. I think we could all take a note out of their book and rethink our situations at times of stress and feeling hard done by.
Photograph: Ruth and some their KTL porters
Posted 25 June 2007 - 05:42 PM
Ernest told me as we set off that it would only be one hour walking to the camp site now, but I asked if that was my walking pace or his. He assures me it was my pace, so off we went down another steep decline. The knee was really bothering me by this stage and every movement was extremely painful then all of a sudden it wouldn't hurt at all and I would try to move a bit faster till the next burst of pain. Sometimes it was that bad that Moses and Ernest had to lift me down the steep sections. I knew it can't be anything really serious or it would be painful all the time, so that gave me a bit of encouragement anyway. There is only tomorrow to get through somehow and that was it. I can't believe it has gone so quickly really. An hour came and went and thought it can't be too far now. If Ernest had said 3 hours it wouldn't have bothered me, but saying only an hour and after each hour passed I was getting annoyed with him and myself for saying it.
We've passed by a section where a trekker from one year ago passed away on the track. He collapsed further down the hill but as a helicopter had to come a retrieve the body he was carried back up the hill to flat ground then the porters set about clearing enough trees for the helicopter to land. The boys then erected the man's tent and sat up with him all night till the morning when he was picked up and taken back to Moresby. The Papuans then made a little garden where he actually died and another at the top of the hill in his memory. His porter was on our trek and I wondered if it effected him much coming this way again. Apparently they had a ceremony for the man earlier on today as the rest of them stopped to honour him and place flowers on the site. Ernest was telling me about it while we were walking and I can imagine it would have been difficult for the boys at the time. They are very caring and sensitive boys even though they try to act macho for us at times.
Photograph: Ruth and Ernst pause to pay their respects, it was one year in May since Ian lost his life:
Posted 25 June 2007 - 05:44 PM
Photograph: our boots drying out around a campfire:
Posted 25 June 2007 - 05:46 PM
Photograph: sitting around the campfire with our KTL boys singing and playing their uke'ule's:
Posted 25 June 2007 - 05:47 PM
Photograph: my boots getting a workout:
Posted 25 June 2007 - 05:50 PM
Photograph: preparing for our last climb:
Posted 25 June 2007 - 05:52 PM
Photograph: Alissa and me cleaning our boots at Goldie River:
Posted 25 June 2007 - 06:06 PM
We were all so happy to know that we had achieved a goal in our lives and come through pretty well unscathed to boot. The porters were happy to have helped us through and we gave each and every one a huge round of applause. I never found the smell of our porters (because they don't wear deodorant) at all offensive and found comfort along the track many times knowing they were there to help me through. I probably smelt nearly as bad as them at times. Someone did comment once along the track and said I looked just like I had stepped out of the shower till I had walked passed him then he said 'nah she stinks' likes the rest of us.
Robbo stood up and gave a speech and said every trek had its own Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel and when young Moses was chosen I nearly cried with joy because he had really done the equivalent of the original ones so many years before. He present me with a beautiful woven bag, which I will treasure, and use. We gave both David and Moses our tent and mattresses and the promise of new boots. We have since sent them over a pair of Mack walking boots, which I am sure they will wear with pride when they receive them. Gail has kindly said to send them to Queensland and they will be included in the next food shipment that will be sent up to Port Moresby. Her daughters manage the firm that provide the food ration packs and her son organises the treks from Queensland when she is in Boroko New Guinea.
I cannot speak highly enough of the work that Gail and Russell are doing to try and help the villagers along the way and to educate them into better health regimes for their own good.
Meanwhile back at Owers' Corner the truck was finally laden with all the backpacks and luggage from the porters and guides and we were soon heading back to Pot Moresby where all this started 9 days ago. The four wheel drive truck had made it into Owers' Corner but the smaller one hadn't been able to get through, so to our dismay we had to walk up a further hill to get to it. The adrenalin was still high so I don't reckon any of us noticed the steep hill we had to walk up before the truck came into view and we were once again on the road. The beers were well and truly flowing by this time and we sang and drank our way back to Port Moresby, which was still about 2 hours away.
Arriving back at the Airways Hotel was wonderful with the treat of a hot water shower and soft bed again. A few of us met up later on that evening for dinner and swapped stories and talk into the night before heading off to our own rooms for a well earned sleep. The next day was Anzac Day and an early pick up to take us to the Bomana War Cemetery for the dawn service. We met up with the boys again and listened to a very moving and emotionally charged service. The cemetery is very well kept and the sight of all those graves didn't lessen the thanks we felt for the men who gave their lives so we could enjoy the freedom in Australia we have today.
We were invited back to the Australian High Commission for breakfast but with such a large crowd Barry and I decided we would just go back to bed at the hotel and catch up on some more sleep and meet up with the rest later on that day perhaps. We were lounging around the room when the phone rang to tell us to get over to the Gateway Hotel for the presentation of the certificates and t-shirts from Gail and Russell and have a few drinks as well. Off we went and had a good time with the guys again although most of them had been at the Yacht Club during the day and would probably have forgotten all about the presentations later on. We all came back to the Airways and had a lovely dinner and talked more with the promises of keeping in touch with people.
It was only after I had got home and was at work one day when someone asked if I had seen any ghosts along the track that I remembered an incident where we were walking up this incline and Barry had been behind me and he had pushed me on my backpack. After some time I could still feel him doing it and said to him that he didnít need to push me anymore, but when I turned around there wasnít anyone there. I felt the pressure there a little while longer and then it ceased. When I told Ernest about it later he said it does happen occasionally and I felt very honoured that I had been chosen to experience it. Barry said he doesnít remember ever pushing me at all and had stopped off to take a photo of a mortar shell stuck in the fork of a tree out on the hillside. If I recall correct enough it was around Mt Bellamy before that awful afternoon when it rained dreadfully. It went completely out of my mind till then. It is not even written in my diary along the track. Amazing.
Although we had flown and spent two weeks in Phuket to relax and recover from the rigours of the trek, we were still thoroughly exhausted when we arrived home. It is unbelievable how strong the mind can work and it made us put our bodies through so much punishment, it will be weeks before we are back to normal I reckon. Barry came through it all with nothing but a few aches and pains not even a blister on his feet. Remarkable feat from us both I feel, as we are just a pair of normal but adventurous people in our fifties.
The memories we have of that special time in New Guinea will stay with us for many years to come and it is only the people that you meet along the way that seem to make it so special. I shall never forget the kindness and caring nature of the Papuans we met and shared our lives with for a short time on the jungle track they call the Kokoda Trail.
Photograph: Owers' Corner - yes, trek 272 completed their trek and Ruth got a standing ovation from all her fellow trekkers for her mighty effort:
0 user(s) are reading this topic
0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users