Brian and I decided that we should make one last family trip to Lae before furlough. There is a good chance that Brian will go down again for work, but this trip would most likely be the last time that Greg and I accompanied him this field term. We originally intended to go down for Mother’s Day weekend, but a landslide closed the highway that weekend and we had to postpone the trip.
Our last family trip to Lae, a few months ago, was not a fun experience. Greg was at a very difficult age, and did not do well in the car, in stores, in restaurants, sleeping in a strange bed….basically we were just very glad to be home at the end of it! Thus, I was a little apprehensive about this trip, but it actually turned out really well. With a few minor exceptions, Greg behaved beautifully. What a difference a few months can make! (And it makes me feel a lot more confident about our upcoming furlough travels).
We always enjoy the scenic, three-hour drive to Lae. Ok... to be truthful, we always enjoy the scenic part. The no-air-conditioning part isn't so much fun after you leave the highlands after the first hour. And also the enjoyment depends on if the baby in the backseat is happy or not. And if you have to use the bathroom it isn't so much fun either, because there are no rest stops or service stations along the way.
The original excuse for making this trip is so that Brian could treat me to a nice Mother's Day dinner at the Lae International Hotel - one of the nicest restaurants in Lae. The first night we were there was Sunday, and it turns out they don't do their buffet on Sundays. We ordered this humungous pizza instead. We ended up getting three meals out of it, so we didn't feel bad splurging and going back to do the buffet the next night. Sorry - no photos of the buffet, but I assure you it met all expectations.
What is a trip to Lae without some shopping? Lae is a port city, and is where we go to shop for the things we can't find anywhere else. We visited the stationary store. They didn't have any padded envelopes (can you imagine going into Office Depot and having them be completely out of padded envelopes, in any size?), but Greg got to try on this fancy PNG headband:
And of course we had to stop at a few of Brian's stores. Greg was pretty happy to run around in the yard of the Caterpillar dealer while dad was inside looking at parts catalogs:
Greg and I got nice and sweaty sitting in the car waiting for dad to finish up his business at another parts store...
...but we made up for it by swimming in the guesthouse pool when we returned from shopping.
Our truck does not have air conditioning, but thankfully the room at the guesthouse did. We enjoyed lounging around and spending some quality time together as a family. Brian and I would have liked to watch some TV, since we don't have that in Ukarumpa. but Greg had other ideas.
We spent lots of time reading his books to him and singing songs - especially the Alphabet song. Greg is obsessed with letters right now, and is actually getting very very good at identifying most of them. Of course his favorite book is Dr. Seuss' ABCs.
And right before heading home we visited the Rainforest Habitat - a nice little conservation area with lots of birds and other animals native to Papua New Guinea.
Our last trip here was nearly a year ago, when my mom was visiting. We were hoping that Greg would get more out of it this time, be he was more interested in getting back in the truck and going for a ride. The kid has a one-track mind when it comes to things with wheels.
A cassowary. Greg's reaction: to glance at the giant blue-headed bird and then turn and ask, "ride truck?"
And of course, their most famous attraction - a giant crocodile named Agro. We're told that when they feed him chickens its pretty impressive to watch. One of these days we'll have to try to visit during feeding time.
When we got home I had to deal with all of my new treasures- including this huge amount of frozen, shredded cheese that barely fit in my freezer:
Someone had given me a tip on where to buy wholesale shredded cheese for about $6.80 per pound (which is half the price of what we usually pay for cheese here), but you have to buy it in a 10-kilogram box (22lbs). It's way more cheese than we can use in the 7 weeks we have left before furlough, but I knew I'd be able to sell it to others for the price that I bought it for. Sure enough, I listed half of it on our for sale board in Ukarumpa this morning, and it was all sold within 5 minutes.