M/V AKAMA
Not all those who wander are lost
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Louise-Ann and our friend Graham, from HARMONY-88 shared a birthday celebration, both being born in March. The photo was taken at a delightful little resort on Damon Island, near Madang, PNG.

We stopped for a day at Dreiger Harbour, the site of a large regional school. Once they overcame their shyness, a bunch of the boys swam out and populated our swim platform. Only later did we find out that one of the little buggers stole a small part off of the boat.

These boats are ubiquitous throughout the area. Designed and built by the Japanese, they are also built in the islands under licence. It is not uncommon to see these boats going between islands far out to sea.

This frigate bird is not chained or clipped. The Hermit Islanders feed it and it is happy to hang around.

It would appear that this young lad on the Hermit Islands would like to fly away, while the bird at his feet is content to stay.

This is a leaf-construction school house, typical of leaf buildings in the area. They are made from bamboo, local wood and sago palm leaves. Note the old propane bottles used as bells; this is very common throughout the area.

Here is Louise-Ann with a tame cockatoo in Kelanua Village.

We were very fortunate to stumble upon the champion dance troop of the entire south pacific at Kelanaua. They put on quite a show.

Here, some villagers at Kelanua pose with some of their ceremonial drums. The style of drums varies greatly throughout the region.

It is not at all uncommon for children to run around naked until puberty, especially in the outlying villages. Their clothing is generally shorts and T-shirt, usually cast off by or traded by passing yachts. Here some Kelanua children pose in their dugout canoe. While hopelessly poor by our standards, the children in these villages are generally well adjusted and very happy.

This outdoor market is typical of those in outlying villages. In the towns and larger villages there are usually shelters, comprising some poles and a roof.

The young lady dancers of Kiriwina village put on a good show for us. While not as professional as the men of Kelanaua, they were more graceful.

The dancers of this region generally perform to hand-made drums and simple string instruments.

Lae, PNG, boasts a nice new yacht club, inhabited by most agreeable members. We spent several evenings with them drinking beer and eating huge Aussie style hamburgers.

Here we are tucking into the huge Lae Yacht Club Burgers. It is a good thing that the club has a nice cafe on the site, as the town is reputed to be a bit lawless, especially at night.

These bilum bags are carried by men and women alike. Men usually carry them over their shoulder, while women often carry them on their backs, slung from their foreheads. They come in many sizes; the one in the photo has a child inside! The traditional ones are made from yarn spun on the thighs of the women, which is then dyed and knitted.

This "boat club", really just a small bay, is where we spent five weeks repairing some of AKAMA's equipment.

This is one of the ways that the villagers travel between islands.

 
 

This store on Nuna street caught our eye, as it bears our family name.

We gathered most afternoons at the boat yard in Madang (PNG), to watch the sun go down, tell stories and have a few drinks before dinner.

There are still many missionaries working the islands. They often travel by boat, taking parissioners with them. Here is a typical missionary boat in PNG, overloaded to the hilt with passengers and cargo, including a live, trussed pig!

The locals on the Ninigo Islands eschewed the use of banana boats and outboard motors, after they discovered that their primitive lifestyle would not support the running and repair costs for such western accoutrements. While they still maintain a few banana boats for long distance inter-island trips, it is not uncommon to find these sailing canoes miles out to sea.

Here some young girls pose in front of their school. Despite the primitive environment, the school and village were spotlessly clean and the children, as can be seen by the beaming smiles, are happy.

Day after day, we marvel at the glorious sunsets that mother nature treats us to. Here is one taken in Ninigo atoll.

We often visit the local village when we anchor in a bay. Here we are hosted by Solomon (hand on chest) in his Ninigo Islands village.

The buffalo is the usual beast of burden in PNG.

Here is a man in Sailum Village hand-rolling a cigar from locally-grown tobacco leaves.

The married women of Sailum Village, hearing that we had been entertained by the men and young ladies of two other villages took it upon themselves to show us their moves. Such cultural shows are one of the few ways the villagers have to earn hard currency.

Most villages in the outer islands of PNG have no electricity or running water. When there is running water, it is usually from dammed streams or springs, and only a few faucets are provided for communal use. Here in Sailum Village, the children enjoy a cool drink.

This headstone testifies to the fact that things less than 100 years ago were much more primitive and dangerous.

While the Japanese were only in the islands for about two years, they were extensively dug in and fortified, as this shore gun shows.

To see some of the old fortifications and guns, we had to slog our way up the side of a small mountain. Here is the view from about half way up to the top.

Louise-Ann poses here with the carver and her new bowl. The wood is turned by hand and then intricate patterns are carved. The entire bowl, including the handles on the bowl and the lid are made from a single piece of wood. No joinery, nails or glue is used.

We bought a beautiful hand-carved bowl here in Tami Island. This craft show was put on just for us and the few boats with us. The carving in PNG is more rustic than that of the Solomon Islands and less primitive than that of Vanuatu. That said, some pieces take a month or more for a craftsmen to complete.

This woman spins traditional yarn from pandanus palm leaves and weaves it into these traditional bilum bags. Note the tattoos, also traditional, and the winning smile. The red is caused by betel nut juice.

This downed allied bomber was found in the jungle not far from the airstrip. Many other bits of military wreckage can be found throughout the area.