Thursday, July 26, 2007

Market Tok Tok

Because I do the ordering of food and shopping for the company, I don’t find it as enjoyable an experience when I’m shopping for myself. When it comes to the markets though, I could spend all day there if I wanted to. Alotau market is probably one of the best I’ve been to in PNG, in terms of safety factor, cleanliness and quality of food. Alotau Market.
Kaure drinking niu (young coconut)
Young boys selling lime (made from burnt coral) at the market entrance.Lime,when chewed with mustard and buai (betel nut) produces the bright red colour that is a common sight on people's mouths in PNG.

In fact any market outside of Moresby city, is a lot more pleasant. Put it down to too many bad marketing experiences in Pom (Port Moresby). If you’re female and alone in Pom walking the streets or in the markets, you can often be targeted by pick pocketers,opportunists etc. So usually it’s best to go with a friend. Here in Alotau, I’m free to go alone, take my time and it’s great not to have to check my back all the time. Our market has very strict regulations also. You can’t litter inside, eat or even chew buai (betel nut) so it’s very clean.

PNG has so many varieties of bananas.

I love green banana chips dipped in soy & chilli sauce

or just cooked with coconut,chicken and aibica. Outside the market are numerous stalls selling

everything from food to cigarettes to buai. A packet of cigarettes in the shops costs K9.00,

here at the market stalls it's K8.00

Another common sight around PNG.

Where you find buai, you'll also find "loose" smokes. Anyone for a hard boiled egg or "juice"? (cordial actually!)

I have to say though, nothing beats the Highlands markets. Having grown up in Goroka in the Eastern Highlands Province, I do miss the abundant supply of broccoli, carrots, cabbage, potatoes, lettuce and everything was so huge and cheap! Highlanders definitely know how to garden. Here in Alotau people are only just starting to grow these types of veggies and even then, supply is not consistent. We are more known for our yams and tapioca (casava),bananas,pineapples,mangoes and taro. I never thought I’d miss tomatoes, we only get the cherry ones at the markets and they don’t taste as nice as the ones in the shops. Can you believe one tiny piece of broccoli in the supermarket costs K4.00-K5.00?? It’s crazy and if the container ships haven’t been in for a while to top up on supplies in the shops, cooking a meal can be fairly challenging. I refuse to buy frozen veggies, fresh is best as they say.

It’s nice to experiment with local foods too. If there’s no lettuce, watercress is always good and I like stirfrying veggies using all the different types of greens in the market with a dash of oyster sauce or garlic butter. One thing great about being in Alotau is all the fresh seafood you can buy here especially fish, crabs, squid, shellfish etc. Prices are pretty good too.A large handful of shell fish is usually around K1.00, crabs K3-K5.00 each and fish can range from K5.00 - K20.00 for the really big ones. If I buy fish at the market, I like to cook it on the same day, especially with coconut cream and chilli or baked in the oven with white wine and garlic. Once you’re used to eating fresh fish, there’s no turning back!
Early Saturday morning's the best time to

buy fresh seafood at Alotau market
Shells-great as a soup!

Forest ferns-something I've acquired a taste for

since moving to Alotau.

Some of the more exotic dishes you’ll find at the market include; tree possum, bandicoot or flying fox cooked whole and creamed with coconut!! Ewwww! I’m always one to try anything once so recently I tried the bandicoot (with rice and chillis) which I thought was cuscus (tree possum) and it wasn’t too bad I must say until I reached the paw, then I had to stop…it was so tiny and too much for me to handle! It didn’t help that I had Elaine and Jamon on the side screwing up their faces and saying GROSS!!! As for flying fox? If I close my eyes, yeah maybe but……..ewww….don’t know if I could bring myself to eat something that reminds me too much of something out of Aliens vs. Predator! I mean is there even any meat on those things???!

Flying foxes in coconut cream-

Doesn't this remind you of that scene in Alien vs.

Predator when the Alien's eggs start hatching and

the little aliens start slithering out!Arrghhh!!

Yes this is the badicoot's tail and NO I didn't eat it!

Jamon wasn't too impressed!

Milne Bay women love to bake so they also sell great buns and biscuits at the market. There’s one lady I go to who makes the nicest, crunchiest coconut biscuits with a hint of leukot. Often you’ll see ladies selling bright coloured pandanus baskets and mats-another thing Milne Bayans are known for.

My weakness is usually hot sago and chestnuts eaten with smoked squid, fresh water prawns or shell fish in coconut cream, threaded and sold on a coconut broom stick. Tastes great with fresh seaweed also and you can get all that for under K3.00!

A few bites of this and you're stuffed!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Sunny days again in Alotau!

Bums up!Kaure and friend Buta Chris
Fun in the sun.
View of Haus Win from
upstairs verandah-Wanigili Centre,EMB

Ground floor view of Wanigili Beachfront

When I’m not working……

My cousin Patricia Sinyoi modelling one of
my designs made from recycled denim

One of my passions is designing clothes, it’s something I’ve done ever since I was a kid. I am by no means a professional designer, it’s more of a hobby for me. I love nothing more then to pick up second hand garments at the markets or shops in Pom and turn them into something more interesting.

Maxine at 2003 Mama Lewa Art Exhibition
Port Moresby

Over the years I have accumulated numerous scrap books filled with nothing but sketches of one design or another, all are gathering dust. In 2002, while in Port Moresby, I worked up the courage and entered The Ice Fashion Awards, a nationwide fashion design competition. I came up with the idea of combining recycled denim and synthetic bilum (string bag) for a contemporary PNG look. I made it to the finals. That was 5 years ago. In 2003, I took part in an all woman art exhibition in Port Moresby entitled “Mama Lewa” which was organised by The Business and Professional Women’s Club. That was my first exhibition experience and I actually featured four paintings and a few of my denim n’ bilum garments. Amazingly,I sold 3 paintings, one was auctioned. The purpose of the exhibition was to raise funds to provide scholarships for young women in Port Moresby to further their education. I’m keen to organise a similar exhibition here in Alotau, perhaps early next year to coincide with International Women’s Day. Here are some of my creations (special Thanks to Cam Hollows for taking all the photos-except the last two,and his assistant Jane McKenzie). Temari modelling bilum n' denim skirt
Joanne in bilum n' denim mini skirt and top
Bilum Thongs
Bilum coconut tree pattern on jeans
Joanne,Durand and Temari

Over the last few years, bilum outfits have become a lot more popular. There’s a lot of work involved in creating and weaving a bilum outfit and a full outfit can fetch anywhere from K300.00 and upwards. Not cheap!The garments however, are very eye-catching and unique. One of my paintings

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Kaure's Bubu - John Nilkare

Kaure's Bubu John Nilkare(centre) dressed in
traditional Simbu costume at a recent rally
at Omkolai,Simbu Province(Highlands).

It's election time in PNG and Kaure's Bubu (Grandpa-Robert's Father) is currently standing for the Gumine Open Electorate Seat in his home province of Chimbu/Simbu.Here's a recent article about him featured in The National Newspaper.
Nilkare: Nationals to push for return of village services dept

A PNG National Party-led government would strive to revive and restore the village services department initiated in the 1990s but had since gone into hibernation. Prominent businessman and former politician John Nilkare revealed this during a PNG National Party rally in Omkolai in the Gumine district of South Simbu last Friday. Mr Nilkare said PNG National Party had strong policies in reviving and strengthening services meant for the rural areas of PNG.

He said if he wins the Gumine seat and is in the engine room of a PNG National Party-led government, the village services department of the Government would be revived for efficient services to filter down to the village level. Mr Nilkare, who once led the National Advancement Party in the 1990s succeeded in establishing the Village Services Department, aimed primarily at delivering goods and services to the village level. He is still a strong advocate for village services and is adamant that if his party gets into government, the programme would be revived. He told a big gathering at Omkolai that they would ensure that village court magistrates, peace officers, peace mediators and councillors were put on fortnightly payroll.
“Funds earmarked for the district would be channeled from Waigani directly to the respective districts,” Mr Nilkare said. He challenged the people of Gumine that if they voted him to be their MP, he would ensure all deteriorating roads and bridges would be maintained before December this year. “If I fail to deliver this promise to you,I will slaughter several cows and pigs for you, and if I succeed in delivering my promise, you the people of Gumine will slaughter
the pigs and cows for me,” Mr Nilkare said.
The former Gumine and Simbu Regional MP said Simbu province had a lot of highly educated professionals who were working outside. “A National Party-led government would ensure the creation of an environment attractive enough to bring them back to serve their own people and their country.” The Gumine seat is currently held by People’s National Congress (PNC) party man Nick Kuman. Simbu Regional’s People’s Progress Party candidate Aiwa Olmi also attended the rally and spoke to the people about his aspirations.
Something tells me whichever way things turn out, there aren't going to be too many pigs or cows left in Chimbu after the elections!Kaure's only met his bubu a few times in Moresby,otherwise,there's not much contact with him.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Finally, I voted!

KB Community Hall-where voting took place

It’s election fever in PNG and for the first in my life, I actually voted!This was last Friday 6 July. I don’t know why, but for some reason I was expecting a bit more excitement, perhaps some fireworks, drum roll, a tribal fight or two maybe (nah, just kidding!That doesn’t actually happen in our part of the country). Maybe it was the end of the week and everyone had just had enough of all the election hype! Whatever the case,voting was a quiet and civil process that took place in a community hall in KB under the watchful (and rather bored) gaze of a few cops and electoral commission officials.

While the rest of the world is terrified of coming anywhere near PNG during the election period, we here in Alotau are carrying on with our daily lives as usual with little fuss and not much to talk about in the way of election-related dramas. I’m still walking the streets (ok,street!) with my son and nothing’s happened to us, people are still doing what they do everyday with no disturbances. I think the most dangerous thing I encountered on Saturday was my cousin Nimrod on his way to The Miss Milne Bay Quest-Sneak Preview at Cameron High.The guy was so gelled and spruced up I barely recognised him!

Eeny Meeny Miney Mo.........Who's the fairest

leader of them all? Who should be our next Governor?

Not much of a choice I'm afraid. Can some people

please smile o? Sgt.Neasi & Town Manager- Mr. Elliot,

keeping a close eye on things.

The polling booths
View of the other side
The Ballot Boxes

Good governance is one of the major themes covered in the six x 40 min Radio Drama Programs we’re currently producing (a Media for Development Initiative project), as a result, I’ve taken a lot more interest in Politics these days. For some interesting reading on our current members, check out

Rait Man! (I mean, the guy wearing the shirt!)

Some candidates printed bright t-shirts (like our current governor-Tim Neville,some drove around in their trucks up and down the highway talking on their loud hailers until their voices broke, many put up posters or banners around town

Kaure Muala with Aunty Francesca Semoso-

Deputy Speaker-Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

This is one amazing and dynamite of a woman.Franco and I

used to work together at PNG FM Ltd. many years ago. She has always been an advocate for women's issues and is an amazing public speaker. She has recently been awarded an OBE.She was here a few weeks ago attending an HIV/AIDS workshop hosted by PATTAF.

The community radio drama programs we’ve been working on for the past 10 months now are almost complete. Jobby Paiva (sound engineer, program director-CDI) is currently working on the last two episode while in Kutubu. So hopefully we should have them completed by mid August!!What a relief that’s going to be!It’s been a looong process, but one that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.I can’t wait for the programs to be aired on Radio Milne Bay. I’m told the last radio drama programs were aired on the station some 5 yrs ago so am hoping we’ll get a good response from the public. The programs, covering HIV& AIDS as well as Domestic Violence in our province, are very entertaining and are presented in Milne Bay English and Tok Pisin.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

You know you've been in Alotau for a while when......

  • The Taxi driver says pay me later
  • You start wearing thongs (slippers) everywhere
  • You start greeting people with “How” or "Gudi"
  • Y ou start chewing betel nut more
  • You become very fluent in Milne Bay English,therefore......
  • Your ability to form basic sentences in English becomes more and more difficult and you start saying things like " My head is paining" or "Ewaa, det one how?".
  • Your idea of take away is hot sago,chestnuts and smoked squid or fish at the market.
  • You go for a walk and every second person says Gudi or Hallo to you!
  • You start planting tapioca and yams in your garden.
  • You actually start gardening,baking and sewing!Activities you would never have dreamed of doing before life in Milne Bay!
  • Habona adds his shopping to yours at the check out counter
  • You know how to ask for betel nut in 6 different languages
  • You refer to everyone older than you as –Aunty, Uncle or Bubui
  • You’re buying new towels every month cos your relies keep
    walking away with them.
  • The only jewellery you have on is your bagi
  • Friday nights you’re either at Napatana’s Trivia Night, Masurina’s Family Night or partying at The Jetty-Alotau Int'l Hotel
  • You find a relative working in every shop or company you walk into.
  • Every other person you meet was either your Mum or Dad’s classmate at Cameron High School. This is one of my Bubui's (Mum's mum) younger sisters- Bubui Goini who lives on Galahi Is. She may look like she's wearing lipstick but it's actually sada (betel nut). She's always smiling,is loud,loves a laugh and has a weakness for beads and bright coloured necklaces.

Another of my Grandmother's younger sisters-Haliesa (namesake), we both share the name of one of my great grand bubus-Adinaleu (pronounced Ahdeenahleooo). Haliesa was sick recently so has been in Alotau seeking treatment. She lives on Logea Is. and has a very gentle nature.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Some old photos

I was recently sent some old photos of Kaure when he was around 4 months old by my friend Hennah Joku. Hennah lives and teaches at Malang State University on Java Island,Indonesia. She has a gorgeous daughter Shontae who lives in Port Moresby with her partner Paul Wynn. Hennah has been awarded yet another scholarship to further her studies in linguistics at Yogjakarta which means she'll be in Indo for the next 4 years!! Kaure and I will definitely be visiting!Hennah and I share a creative streak, we love to brainstorm and come up with crazy business ideas and we especially love to go second hand shopping together (fact: PNG women love to go second hand shopping!). On that note, Henz is probably the only friend I know who can fit into a 5 yr old's jeans and t-shirt- she is that tiny!

Check out our beautiful babies!I can't believe how fast he's grown! Kaure now knows how to answer the phone, he helps me cook, he loves to be told stories and prefers to select his own clothes in the mornings (I think Spiderman and Batman suits are getting a bit worn out this week) He also runs very fast so I should be losing that 10 kilos any day now.Something tells me he's going to be very athletic.

Kaure Muala at 4 months

with friend Shontae Wynn -Port Moresby

Enjoying milkshakes with Mum and

Shontae at Airways Pooside Cafe-Port Moresby