the Ride from....

If you'll allow me to walk you through our afternoon drive home. Rather
typical for PNG. We were heading along a 2 hour drive in 2 vehicles.
One was four wheel drive, the other a 2 wheel van.

We checked all the fluids to make sure all was good. As I went to start
up my car, it wouldn't start. The battery was dead. That's fine, I
parked on a hill in case that happened, roll start, and away we go.

We drove through beautiful country, but the driver rarely gets to see it
because there are too many obstacles on the road. School had just let
out so the road was flooded with red-shirted children who holler and
wave as you pass. We wave in return, and if you're me, you holler back
in fun. They're genuinely excited to see you, but don't get distracted
if you wave back and aren't looking you'll hit a pothole.

We follow each other hoping that if we hit a bad pothole in 3rd gear,
and bust an oil plug, the car behind us will notice we're leaking oil.
Thankfully that didn't happen.

We counted about 18 goats, 13 dogs and 6 pigs on the road, none of which
we hit.

We passed by grass huts, people selling anything from coffins to chewing
gum along side the road, people sitting or laying on the pavement to
warm up, kids not aware there was a car coming on their 'walkway' etc.

We had a pit stop along the way to look at some baskets and such, at
which time I checked the fluid levels in my battery and realized why it
wasn't charging. Bone dry. I emptied my drinking water into it in the
hopes that it would charge on the remainder of the ride home.

I felt foolish for not having checked it before. I had checked my
spare, that I had a jack, a tow rope, spare oil, water, my fluids were
good, belts were tight, etc.

The car started right up, but I had stopped on a hill in case. The rest
of the drive went remarkably well. We stopped for the wives to get
something quickly at a store. I stayed in the car for security, watched
a crazy man bother people and beg for money. Another man came up to us
and spun a very long lie about something while men behind him gave us
the hand signal that 'this man is a liar don't give him money.' We
weren't new to the country, nor were we naive, but 'traim tasol' as they
say, which means 'give it a try, what could it hurt?'

Finally only a few turns from home and we notice a landcruiser half
rolled over in a huge ditch. We pulled over to see if anyone was inside
and if we could help. Inside was an ex-pat gentleman whom we didn't
know. He had somehow gotten this borrowed vehicle stuck in a very deep
and muddy concrete drainage ditch.

My son and I remained behind and sent the other car in our caravan on
hope with the women and children, while we stayed to help.

We gave him a few tugs before our tow rope broke. He was very stuck.

Then along came a large 'hino' truck. Since the landcruiser was
borrowed, and the driver didn't know how to work the wench, I offered to
work it for him. We hooked the wench up to the front, and to the large
hino truck and with a little bit of heaving and elbow grease, we got him

He was very thankful.

I looked around and we were surrounded by Papua New Guineans. Some of
which were looking, others were helping. To show our gratitude I
offered several small bills to the men who helped, which is customary.
(and often times why people HURRY to help when you don't always need
that many 'helpers'.)

The driver was thankful to have gotten out. He could have been stranded
there. He thanked me for being a good 'Samaritan' to which I replied
"that's what we do here!" we smiled and he was about to go on his way
when the police showed up, made a big show shouted 'what is going on
here, how did this happen.' Didn't lend a helping hand, but was sure to
issue the drive a ticket for nothing in particular.

He accused the man of speeding, but the man was never out of second
gear. After staying to help him because I didn't hear him speaking
tok-pisin, we went on our way, sure that all was good.

And then we arrived home not much longer after that.

It sounds like an adventure, but really, it's very typical for a 'ride
into town' here. And if you were paying attention you noticed that at
least two times, Papua New Guineans were very helpful. One helped us
avoid being conned, and the other helped a stranger get unstuck.

It's a hospitable place, full of adventure in daily life, and beauty, it
was a beautiful drive.

All in all, I enjoyed it.