The girls went out to play canasta, this morning. Wive’s of the workers in the ex patriot community get together to do all sorts of different things. In this case a group of them meet once a week to play cards, eat and drink and be merry. The more we here of the way expat’s get together the more fun the life sounds to us. Very much a community that would not necessarily happen in their homes cities and countries.
Brother-in-law and I went to do shopping, the roads here are full of pot holes, pot holes that you literally drive into and out of. An attempt at fixing the major roads by concreting the once bitumen roads, is progressing and we’re thankful for the results. The new roads durable, with a characteristic clop, clop as you drive over a road that’s poured in uneven segments. Notification of road closer before ripping up the road is a foreign concept here, the contractors routinely rip a road up making it impassable without warning or hint of what the user might do instead of using that piece of road. A classic example is near the accommodation complex we’re staying in is a supermarket, to get to thereby road is only a few hundred yards, it has however a roundabout between this apartment block and the supermarket. The roundabout has been in re-construction for over three months now, making a direct trip to the supermarket impossible, the journey now involves a trip around town to get there. I’m told that contractors ripped the road up in front of the supermarket without warning to the owners or the public. This made the supermarket impossible to get to, they ended up cutting a hole in their back fence to let the public into their store.
The shopping experience in Lae is a little different to Mayfair London, Ginza Tokyo or 5th Avenue New York. Everything is under guard, iron grids protect windows and doors. Apart from a guard outside sitting on a stool the liquor store looks empty and closed. I remarked that it looked shut. I was wrong. The guard hopped off his chair and opened the door for us as we pulled up in the Mazda Duel Cab. Rules are complex here, A three month ban on the sale of alchol in force in Lae, sales of alcohol other than the recognized clubs and hotels is banned. We’re here to see if it’s possible to pick up a few bottles of wine for Christmas, the staff were enthusiastic to help us make our selection and with a few minutes we leaving with our purchase and on to the next shop, the supermarket.
Afternoon saw us visiting a shop that sold second-hand clothes and books, there are no bookshops in Lae but here is a couple of shelves containing such classics as “The guide to better photography 1976”. I’m told by those who were not the owners of an eBook that the books turn over quite regularly and you getting an interesting read of a book you would not normally pick up. I agree with the last part, I would never have looked at “The Art of working with sheet metal” circa nineteen sixty something, before I am sure. I did find a few volumes of an early 1970’s Snoopy encyclopedia set. If it had been the whole set they might a good value. A big plastic bag of old and not so old books came home with us and all for a few Kina, what a bargain.
Fishermen selling strung fish between the trees, beached outriggers with brightly coloured sails, and markets under a rainbow of umbrellas, a back drop of ships rocking gentle in stream as they queue to use the port, sounds romantic and could describe the scene at the Lae waterfront. Wild tall grass, plastic bags and other rubbish, with dirty old freighters rotting on the beach would be a less flattering way. They are both true and I prefer the first. The guys sold fish of many descriptions, stood in a row each waving a switch across the strung catch to keep the fly’s away, we inquired and a very large snapper was around 30 Kina, which is a reasonable price.