Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day 11 - Goldie River > Owers Corner > McDonald's Corner > Sogeri Lodge

Despite being exhausted when I went to bed last night, I woke at 12:30AM, and couldn't get back to sleep. I was still awake at 2:15, with thoughts of the trek racing through my mind. I must have drifted off, because the alarm woke me at 5:15, and the final morning pack was started.

We all had some tinned fruit, plus Salada's and vegimite for breakfast, along with a cup of "Readymix". It turns out that on the last morning, the boys mix all the milk, milo, coffee, sugar and tea that is left over into a pot of boiling water - and that is Readymix! Tasted ok, but really sweet. After brekky, with the knee again feeling good, I went down to the river and found my sweat rag. I was happy, for a while.

It was a really strange feeling as we walked away from our last camp. I didn't want it to be over. I hung around the back, talking to the boys. They advised me to not bother putting my boots on, as we had to cross a river that was about knee deep. I walked slowly down to the river, took off the boots, and waded across. The group was in front of me. No-one was talking. I guess we were all lost in our thoughts. On the other side, I slowly put my boots on, and talked a bit more with the boys. I wished I had have got to know them a bit better. Sure, I'd spoken quite a bit to Warren and Dominic, but not so much the others. They were all great guys, and we owed them all a lot. They were in high spirits. I guess for them (apart from the quick pace), this was a relatively easy trek. There was no-one getting in at 8:00PM. There were no injuries - just a couple of tummy bugs. Everyone was pretty easy to get on with. So, for them too, a good trip. But we could see that they were in a hurry!

So, the last uphill. I held back so Alex and Catherine could get in front of me. I spoke with Alex a bit up the hill. The time flew. He took some photos as we went up - he was in no hurry. Before we knew it, we were all approaching the archway at the top. The boys had formed a guard of honour. As we walked towards and through the archway, they sang a going home hymm. It was really emotional, with more than one tear shed. And so, on our 10th day of trekking, at 7:35AM, the adventure was over.

The bus had been organised for 8:30, so while we waited, we were all presented with the trekking poles that the boys had carved for us. They cost K50 each, and the boys had been working on them most nights since we started. They had done a great job. Dominic had made mine for me, in between his cooking duties - I really don't know how he found the time. I had lent him my new pocket knife to do the carving. When he gave me my trekking pole, he returned the knife. I gave it back to him, and told him that I wanted him to have it so he could make a lot more trekking poles in the future. Such a small gesture, but his gratitude was like a wave of emotion rushing over me.

After some photos, and goodbyes to the boys, the bus and a troop carrier arrived at about 8:05AM. The boys jumped on the bus, we jumped in the Troopie, and off we went to McDonald's Corner for a quick look and another photo.

Then back to Sogeri Lodge, where there were rolls with sausages and onions waiting for us, along with icy cold soft drinks! It was an awesome meal! Then we unpacked, and gave the boots, crocs and poles to the boys for cleaning, and the dirty clothes to the housekeeper for washing. Then, a HOT shower! Fantastic. It was heaven. In fact, on arriving at Sogeri Lodge, it all felt very plush - quite different to how it felt the first time we arrived here! It's funny how perceptions have changed in such a short time.

After that, we headed into Port Moresby with Peter. We took a couple of boys for security, and jumped into the Troopie with Peter driving. Some of the bridges were in shocking condition - and we had to move the planks on them in order to drive across - scary!

In Port Moresby, we went to the ANZ bank to change some money. It was brand new, with a 15 car car park. 3 guards were in the car park. Then another inside, who ran the metal dector over us before, one at a time, we were let into a sealed room. When the door behind had closed, the door in front could be opened to go into what looked like a normal branch. There was 1 teller working, with 2 others watching her. After a 20 minute wait, it was my turn. I swapped $50 into Kina - and was charged K25 for the priviledge! I wasn't happy. Then I realised I was just whinging again - a habit I thought I had lost on the track. Will have to work on that.

From the bank, we went to the "Boroko on Gordons Foodland" store for lunch. It was just like a Coles Supermarket from the early '70's, with a cafeteria at the back! While the others tucked into sandwhiches, I had "Chicken Stew with Rice" for K18 (about $9), with a can of Coke to wash it down, and an icecream at the end - I've never enjoyed such crap in my life!

Then off to the Botanical Gardens for a guided tour. It doubles as a bit of a zoo for local wildlife, and was pretty interesting. Back to Sogeri Lodge for a lie down, and we cracked the first South Pacific Larger at 5:20PM - a beer never tasted so good.

Dinner and bed by 9:00 - where I fell into a deep sleep, for the first time in weeks...