Monday, January 18, 2010


Welcome to rainy season in Ukarumpa!  I think the author must have meant it figuratively when he said “how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news,” because I don’t see very many beautiful feet among the missionaries here.  During the dry season, your feet are covered with dust, and in the rainy season, they are covered with mud.  This is a photo of my feet after I went to market this morning.  Granted, this isn’t a very dramatic photo (I’ve been much muddier) – but this is how my feet typically look (and you don’t want to see the bottoms!).  I suppose I could be like Brian and wear socks and shoes, but I figure it’s easier to wash muddy feet than muddy shoes.


In the rainy season, the ground becomes very spongy, and never really dries out.  Especially the grass.  Our lawn may look nice and green, but as soon as you step on it, the mud comes oozing up to envelop your foot.  This morning I was about to walk to work when I remembered that Defa, our yard meri, was coming to work, and I needed to tie up the dog.  I walked gingerly into the back yard to avoid getting my feet all muddy, but then Ruby came galloping around the corner to greet me.  I ended up with mud spattered all over my arms, because I was bending down to catch her and prevent her muddy paws from reaching my clean clothes.  I decided I would just walk to work and clean up there rather than go back in the house.  On the way to work I met Defa, and she asked “what happened to you?”  And then at work I got the same reaction from our receptionist.  You would think that they are used to seeing mud-splattered people by now!  Although I guess it does look much more dramatic against my white skin…

Friday, January 1, 2010

secondhand bargains

If you like new clothes, Papua New Guinea is not the place for you. There are no department stores bursting with the latest fashions. In large supermarkets you can usually find a small selection of new clothes, but the quality and choice is very poor. But if you like the adventure of secondhand shopping, this is a great country for it. I would venture to guess that 95% of the national wardrobe is made up of secondhand clothes that find their way here from Australia. Any decent-sized town will have a secondhand clothes store.

Secondhand stores are often dark and stuffy. And even if you are in one of the ones that has good lighting, chances are that the power will go out while you are shopping and plunge you into darkness (it’s happened to me twice). I joked with Brian that I felt I should bring my headlamp with me when I go shopping so that I can see what is on the racks. You can’t try on clothes, so you just have to guess. The good thing is that the clothes are usually so cheap that even if half of what you bring home doesn’t fit, you still feel like you got a good deal.

On Wednesday Brian and I drove to Goroka, a town about one and half hours from Ukarumpa. We just wanted to get out for the day and have lunch at a nice restaurant. It’s funny – because back home we would never drive an hour and a half to go out to eat unless it was a special occasion or the food was really good, but here just the novelty of going out to eat makes the drive worth it. After lunch at a Chinese restaurant we stopped by the Christian bookstore so that I could buy a new day planner. I was getting anxious because the new year was only days away, and I didn’t have a planner to keep me organized. I had tried to purchase one a month ago, but apparently in PNG they don’t start selling next year’s calendars until late December or even January. Why would you need to plan ahead more than that?

And since we were in town, we visited a few secondhand stores. Brian isn’t a big fan of secondhand shopping, but he knows that it makes me happy. I was looking for maternity clothes, because I had just cleaned out my closet and packed away or gotten rid of things that I knew wasn’t going to be able to wear in the next 6 months or so. I got a great deal on a pair of maternity jeans. They were only 80 toea – about 30 cents. Usually you pay a dollar or two for jeans.

I also picked up a blue t-shirt for a project that I’m working on. I’m crocheting a rag rug for the baby’s room. When I’m in town I can just pick up some old clothes in the colors that I want for the rug. It’s a much less expensive hobby than Brian’s model airplane!