National Pride and Economics 101

We spent a day at sea travelling from Kwatisore in Indonesia to our next stop in Vanimo Papua New Guinea.

September 16 is Papua New Guinea Independence Day, and the village of about 20,000 people was in a mood to celebrate. We arrived a little later in the afternoon than the Capitan wanted due to a headwind and currant running against us, but we were soon ferried to the beach for a trip to the local school where there were a large group of drummers and dancers.  We are seeing a lot of this on the trip, and every time it gets more and more intricate and more people involved. In this ceremony there were many tribes represented and each had their own dances and costumes. Some were simple and some were very elaborate. The mud people were unique and bizarre and everywhere people were smiling and laughing. And wearing the national flag. Everyone, everywhere had the flag on and it was interesting to see. Papua got its independence from Australia in 1975 so the memory was still very fresh for a great number of people in the crowd. We stayed for about an hour and a half and then were taken to a lookout point from where we could see the entire village.

Here is where cold hard reality crashes up against government bureaucracy. Independence Day and everything is closed. It is 34 degrees with about 100% humidity. A bunch of Australians, Americans and Canadians have been sitting outside in the sun watching ceremonies. There is no way to changed dollars for local currency. The beer store is closed. We found the owner of the store and convinced him to take US dollars. He comes outside and everyone is trying to figure out the exchange rate. He has cold beer and I have 10 dollars. 3 beers for 10 bucks in the heat. DEAL. So much for bureaucracy, and we enjoyed a wonderful cold refreshing local beer overlooking a pretty little costal town. Time to get on the ship and head to the next destination.

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