Meeting the Locals in PNG
The island nation of Papua New Guinea, the second largest in the world, is simply fascinating. Unfettered by Western trappings, the people of the tribal villages are a delight – welcoming visitors with open arms, wonderful genuine smiles, the occasional spear-pointed challenge and some very ornate traditional body art and vibrant head-dresses!
Their life is very simple and community focused, as they live off the land to survive, using the natural forest around them to provide shelter, food and fire. A visit to McLaren Harbour, near Tufi Resort, in the Oro Province is a truly humbling experience. We travelled by small boat from the resort deep into the fjord, where we were transferred to outrigger canoes that were paddled by our tribal hosts in traditional dress. The tree-lined inner reaches of the fjord were enchanting and we disembarked to be greeted by two fierce warriors brandishing spears. We declared ourselves to be friends and were personally escorted through the village by our warriors, Moses and Launcelot!
Until fairly recently, we learned, the tribe had been practising cannibals, even cooking and boiling the shoes of those they had eaten. Too tough to be eaten the shoes were eventually discarded!
It was such a privilege to share this time with them in their sacred village as we learned more about their way of life; how they use bush medicine to overcome sickness, make fire, prepare sago for food, perform traditional rituals (including the wonderful “sing sing”), and their unique art of tattooing.
A world away from the way we live, our fast-paced western lives, our spiritual journey with these remarkable villagers was truly enlightening. As we journeyed back by boat to Tufi Resort, we were all reflective of the magical time spent with the tribe in their remote natural habitat.