Journey to the Sinking Lands

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

first full day in Port Moresby

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What a place. My first full day in Port Moresby, capital of Papua New Guinea. Waking late after the night before – people drink a lot here, because the climate makes it hard to get drunk – I caught up with Liam, an Australian journalist I had met at the South Pacific Motor Sports Club. He was heading out to town, to a cemetery where we met some local guys. The graves there include those of the first governor and first missionary but recently some of the gravestones have been smashed, or sold, and more recent dead have been buried on top of old bodies.

The place is filled with plastic flowers. The guys we met have been working to tidy it, and one, Lucy, offered us lunch at her house. Afterwards, she took us to Hanuabada, where the houses are built out over the sea on timber posts and the walkways between them sway beneath your feet. There were games of street cricket, betel nut sellers and kids running past with precious bags of ice. I’m trying to learn what I can about the people before heading off on my own. Speaking on her balcony, among the trees, Lucy told me “to not forget that you are welcomed, but that doesn’t mean being disrespectful of peoples’ space and area. What they most likely expect in any part of PNG is, you’re more than welcome, feel at home, but keep your ear out for things that there not telling you which you might be breaching. Because they are more than likely not going to tell you if you breach some traditional rule so keep your ear out for that.”

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1 Comment»

  Eleanor Kirby wrote @

You can dump that old coat I love so much but don’t come home without my sleeping bag! It was fantastic to come home from a week in fFrance to read all about what you have been up to during the week since we said goodbye. Normandy was peaceful and Ruders began every morning with a ‘where is Dan Box today?’ Emily asked after you often. She can tell anyone who asks you are in Papua New Guniea. Anywhere near Never Never Land? I told her ‘not so far away’. x


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