Here is a photo of a group of victorious bargain hunters just returned from a morning trip to Kainantu, the nearest town to where we live. (That’s me in the green).
Trips to Kainantu are often group affairs like this, and since it’s difficult for a lot of women to get off center (it’s generally not recommended for women to travel alone or without a man), they jumped at the chance when Geoff offered to rent a van and take a group to town. Packed full of 15 people, the air in the van buzzed with excitement on the 15-minute drive to town. I’m lucky enough to travel outside of Ukarumpa fairly regularly because we own our own truck and because Brian’s job requires frequent trips to Lae. But for some of the women, it was their first time into town in months.
Nearly everyone was eager to visit Kainantu’s three secondhand clothing stores. There is not much opportunity for shopping in
Other than shopping for clothes, the other main destination was Papindo, a grocery/household goods store. At the moment, the shelves at our Ukarumpa store are quite bare, because there haven’t been any new shipments of food in quite a while. Nearly all the women had lists of things that they wanted to buy that aren’t currently available in Ukarumpa, like powdered sugar and shampoo. Shopping in PNG is always somewhat of an adventure, because there is never any guarantee that you will be able to find what you are looking for. We also stocked up on sugar, because the Papua New Guinean company that produces all of the country’s sugar recently announced that due to bad crops, they are going to shut down sugar production for three months. Not wanting to go without in case of a shortage, a lot of ladies opted to buy extra supplies now. I confess, I did buy a few kilos myself.
And then, after two hours in town, it was time to pile back into the van, this time with every inch of spare space packed with shopping bags. We held our breath as we carefully drove over the dilapidated bridge that connects us to town, and then the van whizzed down the road towards home, past villages and coffee fields, dodging potholes and people and other vehicles that were all over the road. Everyone chatted happily about the things that they were able to find, and we all thanked Geoff profusely for allowing us this opportunity to spend a morning away from kids and Ukarumpa responsibilities.