Journey to the Sinking Lands

A witness to the world's first evacuation of an entire people due to climate change

The weight

You have camera? The taxi driver makes a tube out of his forefingers and thumb and holds it to his eye.
Im sorry?
Camera? Still peering through his improvised camera lens, he indicates the Nagra recorder by my side.
No, radio equipment.
Radio! Like this! He slaps the dashboard happily. Something like reporter, yes? I cant help smiling.
Something like that.And, hes right. I am only something like a reporter on this trip. This is the third day of my journey, funded by the Royal Geographical Society, to the Carteret Islands in Papua New Guinea, whose people are being evacuated before rising sea levels swallow up their home. The BBC gave me the Nagra to keep a record of the journey, but I dont think that quite makes me a reporter. I used to work in newspapers but have been unemployed so long now that Ive stopped thinking of myself as such. Im not quite sure what I am on this trip, yet.
He swings the taxi over towards the kerb. Terminal 3, Singapore
s Changi airport, where I will catch a flight for the next leg of the journey, down to Brisbane in Australia.
Where you going? he asks.
Papua New Guinea.
Where?
Papua New Guinea.
Where? Im getting used to this. Most people know very little about PNG. I know only enough to know how little I know. You know Australia? I offer. He smiles. Near there.
Opening the boot of the taxi, he lifts out the larger of my two rucksacks and winces at the weight.
Work or home? he asks. Again, Im not sure. This trip is funded, but unpaid.
Something like work, I decide.
Hefting the rucksack on his shoulder he asks
You carry these all the way there and then work?
Yes. He winces again. He is right, I need to loose some stuff. I can certainly loose the heavy jacket – temperatures in PNG are going to be around 30 C with humidity at 90% and up – and probably the sleeping bag too. Id love it if someone told me to dump the camping gear, which I packed more out of caution than the certain knowledge I will need it. On the spot I decide on a new discipline; Ill try to give one thing away each day. That should get the weight down.

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1 Comment»

  Louise Williams wrote @

Hi Dan, when is the BBC documentary going to be broadcast? I’d love to listen to it. Or have I missed it already? Cheers, Louise


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