Dalom, Papua New Guinea
I’m 200km down New Ireland’s Boluminsky “Highway,” the only paved road down this narrow island/province. It’s been a weird route to get here, having lost three days stranded in East New Britain province attempting to take a boat from Kokopo to Namatanai, the nearest town to ENB on New Ireland, only slightly further down the road. Two boats of passengers were lost in the last week of bad weather. I’m a bit relieved that our boat never left, our driver refusing to depart after lackadaisically wasting away the sole brief window of good conditions — but the cost was great, as I missed the Shark Calling Festival.
After an extraordinarily expensive 30-minute flight to Kavieng just to take a PMV truck almost but not quite all the way down to Namatanai, at last: Dalom, this tiny village of a few dozen people. Immediately upon arrival, seeing the extraordinarily idyllic emerald river running through it, I decide to stay for three days — doing what with so few people, limited electricity by generator, no cell reception, and little activity, I don’t know. But on this one weekend, it’s swelled by maybe a hundred – there’s a Seventh Day Adventist church camp comprising of kids and adults from surrounding villages literally camping out in the open between the few houses in this village.
It’s given an energy I wasn’t expecting in this place – the river teeming with children jumping in off the bridge and swimming against its current, its confluence with the ocean full of others playing ball in low tide. There’s a lot more people bathing and washing clothes in the river than usual too, that’s for sure. And then there’s me, since that very refreshing river is the only option for a so-called shower.