Everyone in the group was excited to see the Huli people and Huli warriors. This was supposed to be the material of "National Geographic" articles. Still though, our reception in Papua New Guinea had been anything but friendly up until now. The different wave lengths of thinking were palpable. Service, friendliness, congeniality – not go mention hygiene – were all completely varied concepts between our two cultures. The locals simply didn't make a welcoming impression, and I surely wasn’t the only one to feel this way. As politically incorrect as it may be to say, in the 50+ countries I’d visited I’d never experienced a people that had such intense body odor. Between the unwashed clothes and the unwashed bodies, the odor was often almost overbearing.
The morning for us started with a bird-watching tour, on which 6-7 of us participated
After the bird-watching tour, the rest of the group joined for the Huli culture tour
From there it was off to the hair-growing camp. Here men are, under the supervision of a shaman, growing their hair for 18 months in order to create the wigs for the head-dresses. This was such a bizarre concept. These men’s sole purpose is to grow their hair. They do not wash themselves for 18 months, but rather a few times of day are led by a shaman to a creak where his blessed water is sprayed on their hair and prayers spoken. As one can imagine, the smell was potent. The shaman was able to tell if these men were pure enough to gain entry into this “school”, and through the help of smoked substances, was able to gain a spiritual capacity through which to help their hair grow
The third stop was a village to see how the family structure worked. Here ladies were weaving rope and drying palm leaves that were used as blankets. Men demonstrated their arrow shooting ability and how they made fire. Perhaps the most funny and interesting was when a bench broke under the weight of some of our group and the head women of the tribe let out a diatribe to her men who made something of such poor quality. It was quite a spectacle. She also decided at some point it was too hot so took off her top, which was quite an unnecessary sight.
Following a rudimentary lunch, many in the group were eager to cut things short or call it quits. The impending daily afternoon thunderstorm was also nearing. Indeed, by the last stop – a visit to the medicine man – it was starting to drizzle. Only 5-6 of us decided to pay that area a visit. We instantly noticed through a unique scar that one of the medicine men was also one of the Huli warriors
In the hotel they showed a film called “First Contact” that showed what happened when the Australians first came to Papua New Guinea and how the indigenous reacted. It was extremely interesting. There was film footage of when the first aircraft landed in certain areas, how the locals reacted to the gramophone records, how they thought the tin can was a gift from the ancient spirits, etc. The film was a perfect compliment to the tours that day.
The rest of the afternoon was spent planning the following day’s flights. We, along with one of the PC12s piloted by Uli and Urs, were going to break from the group the following day and head straight down to Australia. The others, for more of a romantic beach holiday, were going to head towards Fiji. For us the most direct airport from which to conduct exit customs was Daru. Still though, we hadn’t heard if customs was going to be possible, and then also no news on if indeed even jet fuel would be available for sale there for the PC12. After long discussions, we decided to forgo landing there and just leave the country without customs. Hopefully this would save us time, aggravation, and money. After the debacle at Vanimo, the last thing we needed was to be holed up in Daru just for a stamp. What we just weren’t sure about is how the Australians would react if we didn’t have the proper GenDecs or exit stamps from Papua.
As with every other day on this trip, tomorrow was going to be an interesting one….
Experiencing Huli culture
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Tari, Papua New Guinea