S 04 45.000 E149 31.000
Christmas and New Year came and went with a little fanfare.
On Christmas Eve we went out for chicken and beer in Jayapura, and left the
stinking, rubbish strewn port on Christmas Day and headed to PNG. On New
Year’s Eve we were again at sea again, but the seas were soon so calm and
winds so light we could call out New Year greetings between the boats a couple
of hundred metres apart.
The New Year has all been PNG and it’s been good.
We’ve had much more time, time to stop in little local ports and small
islands meeting local people, checking out their boats and enjoying simple
pleasures like an afternoon at the bingo. I didn’t have PNG pegged as a
place where bingo might take hold, but it has just like volleyball and
Catholicism. On Karkar Island Sunday afternoon bingo draws a crowd to the
teacher’s house big enough to inspire local women to set up a little
fruit and vegetable market. Ian, our island guide suggested we come along and
we ate donuts stuffed with spinach and sucked on worryingly crimson ice popsickles
whilst he anxiously hunkered over his wooden bingo board checking off numbers.
All too few of them. Earlier he had been bullish about his chances of winning
the top €5 prize. Now ‘Bingo!’ was being called left right
and centre but not by him. The stakes were tiny, but he still wore the look of
a man about to lose the house and was soon working the crowd, tapping up
friends and relatives for one last game. He was hooked and distracted, so we
let him get on with it and walked back through the neat little gardens, with
bamboo fences and coral paths back to the beach with our vegetables.