8 November 2011

The Beginning of a Lifetime Adventure - PNG W&W 2010 (3)

I would like to share with you some of the cultural experiences I had when I was in Papua New Guinea.

Being with a Work & Witness Team, I was blessed to have some induction and advise by people who had spent time in that country previously, and from those who lived there at the time. Because of this, I was probably a little more prepared than what many people would be, when visiting a country like PNG.

Basically beginning in the Brisbane airport, through to Port Moresby, overnight in Moresby, flying up to Mount Hagen, any time spent in town or collecting luggage, etc - basically, whenever we were in public places - we had to be very aware of ourselves and anything that we were carrying, at all times. I took a small sling-across bag, which was perfect for that trip. I was able to have the bag secured to me, hold it in front of myself and see it all of the time, without being too uncomfortable. We would never, ever leave any personal belongings at the table of the restaurant when eating out, for example. I never let my bag out of my hand or out of my sight. PNG has many problems with people "pick-pocketing". This is very common, and basically a way of life for anyone who lives there. The pick-pocketers are very talented, and you may not realize that anything had been taken until later in the day.

Something that was extremely interesting to us Aussies, was seeing men walking hand-in-hand down the street, sitting on benches, going to work, etc. In Papua New Guinea, men hold hands simply as a sign of their friendship and companionship - nothing more complicated than that!! One absolutely hilarious [for me] moment, was one of the Papua New Guinean workmen grab my friend Alex's hand and walk / march across the worksite with him. So odd for this Aussie girl's eyes to see, but GOLD!

The women in PNG all wear skirts. And their skirts must be below the knee. Why? Because thighs are seen to be very sexual in PNG, and could possibly be the worst part of the body to expose.
One day on the worksite, I was busy working with a bunch of the local men, and suddenly - poof! - a gush of wind came, and I was Marilyn Munroe with the full skirt and bike shorts... Yes, my skirt was blown up, and the next thing I hear is "Eyyyy!!!" HA! Dear old Alex couldn't stop laughing at the local men's responses - in complete unision, when my skirt flew up. He also pointed out that there were two groups of workers that day - a few men on one site of the worksite, and me with at least 8 men working on the other side. Hmmm. I prefer to just laugh at those memories!!

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