In 2006 I visited the dusty town of Rabaul for the first time. My parents had both gone to school there and my mother grew up there – she even speaks the local vernacular, Kuanua – so it was kind of weird seeing places that I heard about when I was growing up.
My late father went to Malaguna Technical High. Back then it was more of a technical secondary and students, who went there, went for further studies at Unitech in Lae. Dad, obviously being a nambis mangi (coastal boy) studied motor mechanical but later decided to become a civil engineer at Unitech. However, he did not complete studies and instead opted to go work for Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL).
Mum, as I said, grew up in Rabaul and used to tell me about her uncle who used to harvest megapod eggs. The shell delicacies would be dug up from their nests in the loosely volcanic soil and in one unfortunate expedition the soil collapsed on him. He suffocated and died. However, her fondest memories were probably of the home they had.
My grandfather, Anthony, worked for Elcom (now PNG Power) and everyone called him Tiger because of his temper. He was a busy man and was always envisioning ways to improve his family’s living conditions. In fact, he came up with a very unique concept for a pit toilet.
He designed and built a pit toilet that would be “cleaned out” every time there was heavy rains and flooding.
Anyway, it was an odd feeling of déjà vu going and seeing all this places that I heard so much about as a kid. I was around 23 years old when I went there.
I was a casual with the National Statistical Office (NSO) and went there to conduct the Demography and Health Survey (DHS). The survey had taken me places including places like Agitana which I mentioned in my previous post, ENB, Bereina, Malalaua and most parts of the Port Moresby you did not know existed – but we’ll just have to stick with my ENB adventure for today.
Now, there are many great things about the province. The people are mostly friendly and the food is great and very affordable. I was going to say cheap but it sounded dirty. However, the most impressive thing was the road network which connected nearly every village.
This made our work very manageable. We did not have to wait for transport or walk up mountains. It also allowed us to cover large areas within a day and it has fuelled the province to become one of the most economically productive in the country.
Anyway, Rabaul, as you may already know, was destroyed some years back by the volcanic eruption. They have tried rebuilding it but Tavurvur and Vulcan have been occasionally coughing up dust and smoke ever since, so Kokopo has become the new capital.
Kokopo is a place I wouldn’t mind living and working in (if you don’t mind the tropical heat).