Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day 7 - Bomber Camp > Naduri > Kagi > Efogi

Blessed relief this morning. A green barrel loo, and bowel movements a bit firmer - but still not quite right. The followed the coldest night so far on the trek. I woke around midnight freezing cold. But too tired to get the thermals out. I closed the hood so there was just a hole big enough for my mouth, and went back to sleep. Even though the pillow is much better, I still seem to wake on a regular basis. At least now I go back to sleep quickly. There was a bit of noise from Alex's tent early last night. I think he might have had a visitor...

After the standard breakfast, we walked the 2 minutes it took to get to the wrecked bomber. The Americans had dug a huge hole trying to recover the bodies of 2 American airmen still in the bomber. Unfortunately, there are also 2 unexploded bombs with the aircraft. The more the Americans dug, the further one of the bombs slid down the hole. It is one of the rare cases where they have left the remains of their dead within the aircraft - they didn't think it was worth the risk of blowing up the recovery team. The hole they dug is about 30m across, and full of water. So it was only the ripped bits of aircraft, plus the second bomb that we could see - everything else was under the murky water - including the two Americans. A little spooky - glad I didn't know about it last night.

From there we visited an ammunition dump used by the diggers. It was still full of ammo. I don't know how more people aren't killed by this stuff here. It was full of mortars, grenades, bullets. We were careful not to step on any of it.

Sam was feeling much better today, so when Peter suggested a little excursion to have a look at a Cessna 206 that crashed last year on Little Myola, we agreed. Through the stinking mud again, and there, in the middle of nowhere, is a more or less intact Cessna. The engine was recently taken away for investigation - but the rest of the plane is there. The pilot died in the crash landing, but the two teachers he was carrying managed to walk away. There are still books, pencils and paper strewn around the aircraft. It is somewhat surreal. Apparently this happens all the time in PNG, and with no-one investigating the crash, the planes just stay where they have hit.

From there we powered on to Tovovo Lookout, and had morning tea on the side of the track. Another group passed us while we were having morning tea, then we passed them a bit later. Alex was a bit more talkative today, and I had a really good chat. He isn't impressed with the backwards ideas of many in Perth / WA. I can see his point. Maybe he was a bit more chatty because his gut (like mine) is feeling a bit better today, and no longer feels like I have a brick in a washing machine for a stomach. On the other hand, Catherine was a little uptight. Especially in the morning. Not responding when we talk to her. I wonder is she is still upset about the hard time she got the other night. Whatever. Her loss.

After Tovovo Lookout, we had a really steep descent down to Naduri Village. Here the locals brought out scones and mandarins for us. Sonny (Boskuk) brought us some jam - and we were in heaven! With the second morning tea in our bellies (I'm sure I'm not losing any weight on this trip!), we headed further into the village to meet Ovovu Idiki - who is claimed to be the last surviving Fuzzy Wuzzy angel. He sang us a song that they used to sing during the war. A really proud old man - it was an honour to shake his hand.

From there we went past the Kovovo School. There are a few modern buildings, and a few traditional ones. We looked inside the two K-2 rooms. They had pictures of cars and boats strung up, which they had cut out of a Deals on Wheels type magazine. The room was very primitive, and the rugby/soccer oval was worse!

From there down a steep but short hill, then a sprint up the other side to Kagi village. I've got to say, with the pace and the heat, and the sun on my back, I was puffing by the time I got to the top. I seem to be ok and able to go all day if the pace is slow, but as soon as it picks up a bit I get puffed, and REALLY sweaty.

100m past Kagi was our lunch stop, and I once again had too much to eat. I'm really starting to enjoy that Spam and (what is this stuff?!) other meat on Salada's with cheese, followed by pasta and a cup of tea.

After lunch was a very, very steep and slippery descent. With my fear of heights, this one really scared me. Not just the steepness, but the slipperiness. At the bottom was another creek - and it was paradise to rip off the clothes and jump in. We had turns riding the current under the bridge, which was a heap of fun. Really refreshing after our pretty hard day so far.

Unfortunately, after the river was the steepest ascent I have ever seen. Unbelievably steep. And slippery as all buggery. It was like walking up a ladder for 30 minutes, with no hand holds and butter on the steps. It scared the crap out of me - one wrong step or slip, and it was straight down a 200 metre drop. I was really pleased when it was over. Then another 40 minutes of climbing which was again pretty steep, but by comparison a walk in the park. It was tough going in the sun, but we all did it pretty well. We got to the top, and Alex seemed spent - he dropped to the ground. Peter gave us a briefing - we were in Efogi 2 Village, where Corporal Nishimura erected a monument to his fallen comrades. As we were sitting there eating a banana, listening to Peter, 2 guys from the group we had seen in the morning came up the other side of the hill. The were sweating and puffing, and spent 5 minutes telling us how hard that climb was that they had just done. They went on and on. They were shattered. We didn't have the heart to tell them we had just gone around the long way, and our hill was twice as long and twice as steep...

From there is was a simple down and up to camp at Efogi 1, which we arrived at at about 4:30. There was a shower with a shower rose - but the water only came out in a trickle. Catherine got out with here towel wrapped around her waist - but it was only a camping towel, and only just went all the way around. We all had a laugh at her trying to bend over to open her tent, and get in while staying decent! I had a shower and rinsed out my clothes - I had sweated so much I was prepared to have wet clothes in the morning.

Then one of the boys lit a fire in the drying room, so we all hung our clothes up in there. They were still damp and smokey at bed time, but at least that was better than sweaty.

Sam was much improved by the end of the day. Paul has done some ripper farts - never in front of Catherine though. Someone also snuck out a few sneaky ones at dinner - everyone looked at everyone else wondering who to blame.

After dinner we went to the drying hut where 4 local ladies and 5 kids sang for us. Just amazing voices. So smooth and moving. Today too was a food drop day, where I had my second half snacks delivered. I have hardly eaten any of my first half ones! So it just means an extra 750g of weight in my backpack. I had also packed a big self saucing pudding, which I shared with everyone after dinner. And, for the boys, I had packed a 24 pack of Tim Tams, which I got Waho (the 2IC) to distribute. I hope they all got one...

A hard day, and late night saw us retire at 8:30. But, I'm feeling really good. Yes, the day was hard, but spirits are up, body is strong, and I'm just loving being here.