Goodenough Island, Papua New Guinea
Where the rest of the world does not exist
Have you ever been somewhere in the world that you feel that you are the only one out there and there is no one else? And where time stood still and the surrounding beauty ovehelms you and the environment is pristine and people are in no hurry to go anyway and seemed content with the little things they have. There are many place like this in Papua New Guinea. Goodenough Island is one of them and is worth visiting and talking about.
Goodenough Island is one of the three biggest island in Milnebay Province. To get there it takes about 10 - 16 hours by boat from Alotau. The length of the journey varies depending on the size of the boat, speed of the boat, the amount of cargo on board and the weather. An airfield is also available on the island. After living and working in Port Moresby for a number of years, my family and I decided to visit relatives on Goodenough Island. The trip was the first for me, my partner had been to the island before, this was his second trip. After searching franticly in Alotau for a much faster and bigger boat and to no vail we boarded a small boat that was returning to the island with supplies for the mission on the island. The trip was long and exhausting, took about 15 hours before reaching Vailagi, the Uniting Church Mission station. The family hamlet was about an hours walk from the mission station and because of the amount of cargo we had, we asked to be taken to the shore closer to the hamlet. We where then taken ashore on canoes. We stayed at a hut that was built purposely for our visit or rather it was supposed to be our house in the hamlet.
Anyway, the side (southern) of the island that we stayed at was sparsley populated and in comaprision with other places I've visited in Papua New Guinea, was virtualy unexplored and undisturbed. I was amazed at how little the people and the place have changed with time.We were surrounded by the trees and the sea and the mighty Fergusion Island that shelters us off from the harsh ocean waves and winds. There was no modern day structures, no amenities nearby or inview except the mission station. It was the nearest place where all the villages could go to for medical assistance, send their kids to school, get a boat to travel to Alotau or attend church service and sell their garden produce. There was no proper road not even a road big enough for a bicycle nor a motorcyle to be driven on and so there were no bicycles nor motorcycles or cars. There was a track that everyone used however it can take hours to go from one place to another as it follows the shoreline, goes onto the beach passes through bushes, mangroves, swamps and is difficult to work through during rainy season. Canoes are widely used on the island.
On a typical village market day, there are more people selling and very few people buying. The food is very cheap. You can buy a large bunch of ripe bananas, for K1.00 (about 50 cents (us)). A live rooster cost about K10.00 (about us$5.00). There is very little cash flow. Barter systems still exist, so at the end of the day, garden produce is exchanged for fish and se food and vise versa. Garden food (yam, plaintain, taro, green leafy vegetables, fish, prawns) and clean water was plentiful, however a villager would love to drink a cup of coffee/tea or eat a plate of rice or eat a piece of bread as these foods are rarely available or affordable. Or it is something that is eaten only when a working relative visits or sends it from town or for those who can afford and endure a 15 hour boat trip to town to sell their garden produce will buy on their return. We did meet a lot educated people who have worked and lived outside of Goodenough, they have retired or the wives and children are living there while they work in Alotau or elsewhere in Papua New Guinea, yet there is no sign that they have been exposed to the outside. It feels that the island so big that it has absorbed the changes and the place seems so way back in time.
Anyway,for me it was a great relieve to get away from the city and enjoy somewhere different, despite the lengthy trip, the rough seas, the lack of luxuries and things Iam used to. I felt that all the pressure of the city, the job and family had all eveporated. I am glad I came out to visit this place and the family. Iam glad I live in a country so rich in nature, has the sweetest smell and the air so fresh and where food and water is plentiful and where the people seemed to be not affected at all by what is happening around them.
After 2 weeks on the island it was time to return to Port Moresby. I was in no hurry to return. Why? Below are some of natures quotes that best described my inner thoughts and feelings.
Nature Quotes (source:http//www.allgreatquotes.com and wikipedia)
The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.
Anne Frank, A Jewish Victim of Holocast. Famous for her Diary, 1929-1945
To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.
Helen Keller, American Author, Political Activist & Lecturer, 1880-1968
Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.
Hal Borland, American Author & Journalist, 1900-1978
Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.
Rachel Carson, American Marine Biologist, Author & Environmentalist, 1907-1964
There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.
Linda Hogan, Native American Poet/Novelist, 1947-
Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.
Frank Lloyd Wright, American Architect, interior Designer, Writer & Educator, 1867-1959
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
Lao Tzu, Chinese Philiospher in the Zhou Dynasty
The richness I achieve comes from Nature, the source of my inspiration.
Claude Monet, French Painter, 1840-1926
We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.
Mother Teresa, Indian Catholic Nun, Founder of Missionaries of Charities, 1910-1997