23 July 2013


I have been here a week and already a national holiday. If I remember correctly, the same thing happened when we move to Singapore. Today marks PNG’s Remembrance Day, a time to remember those whose lives were lost in World War II. PNG was a U.S. ally and, like many islands in the South Pacific, was home to American and Australian soldiers among others throughout the war.

Though I missed the 7 a.m. memorial service (which I found out about at 7:45 a.m.), I was able to find an article about Remembrance Day that told the story of the fuzzy-haired men who became heroes to fallen men.

Many a mother in Australia when the busy day is done
Sends a prayer to the Almighty for the keeping of her son
Asking that an angel guide him and bring him safely back
Now we see those prayers are answered on the Owen Stanley Track.

For they haven't any halos, only holes slashed in their ears
And their faces worked by tattoos with scratch pins in their hair
Bringing back the badly wounded just as steady as a horse
Using leaves to keep the rain off and as gentle as a nurse

Slow and careful in the bad places on the awful mountain track
The look upon their faces would make you think Christ was black
Not a move to hurt the wounded as they treat him like a saint
It's a picture worth recording that an artist's yet to paint

Many a lad will see his mother and husbands see their wives
Just because the fuzzy wuzzy carried them to save their lives
From mortar bombs and machine gun fire or chance surprise attacks
To the safety and the care of doctors at the bottom of the track

May the mothers of Australia when they offer up a prayer
Mention those impromptu angels with their fuzzy wuzzy hair.       (Bert Beros)

Since today is a bank holiday, we weren’t sure if it would be a good idea to go out and run errands but Paul, his colleague, Greg, and I risked the crowds and made a decision to hit the grocery this afternoon. The traffic wasn’t as bad as it was toward the end of the workday yesterday but the grocery complex was more crowded than the first time I went last week. We were able to do what we needed and get out quite easily. Once we finished, we headed back to our little home.

Growing up in Nashville, I was bound to get into country music at some point in my life. Since moving into our one-bedroom apartment, I am constantly reminded of a 90s song that said something like, “Love grows best in little houses, fewer walls to separate…if we had more room between us, think of all we’d miss. ‘Cause love grows best in houses just like this.”

To put it simply, the inside of place in the hotel compound reminds me of our first residence as a married couple, a 788-square-foot box in Raritan, New Jersey. Now, I cannot actually say that any of our residences have been large so I don’t know why this place appears so small but it does.

Upon entering the front door that never actually looks like it is closed, one enters into the bright white open space that serves as a combination living room-office area and then leads directly into the kitchen. The floors are an off-white tile; the walls off-white; the ceiling is white. The window brings in enough light to fill our entire place as the light reflects off of all of the white surfaces at once.

A small table with wooden legs and a glass top is to the right against the wall, currently housing our electronic chargers, cords and hotel books. Next to the table is a bright red leather loveseat that lacks pillows and comfort but serves as our only seating option. We get nice and cozy on this couch built for two and then fight over space because neither of us will ever truly be comfortable whether together or alone on this piece of furniture. The couch alone is enough to make us want to move.

The couch is centered to the opposite wall, facing a column that breaks office space from living space. A built-in desk with three shelves along the left side and a built-in cupboard above is set off to the left of the column. To the right is a built-in entertainment center with a television, cable box and small leaf plant. The television is centered on the entertainment center, not with the couch, so we improvise and angle the television.

The kitchen is broken into two areas: the first along the same wall as the entertainment center where a refrigerator lives next to the flat-top stove and oven. At the corner, the kitchen moves along the far wall at a 90-degree angle with shelving above and below. We have a double sink that, in apparent Aussie style, has one deep sink to the right and a smaller, elevated sink to the left.

A small vertical washer and dryer are enclosed in a closet to the right of the sink and we have been advised that the closet doors must be opened at all times while the wash is in progress. Paul tried to fight the subject with our housekeeper, Susie, but he quickly learned that this was a serious matter in which he was not to question. If our doors were closed while either the washer cycle or the dryer were active, she could get in trouble and nobody wants that.

Just opposite the closet doors is an island with more kitchen storage space. There is a small ledge that peeps over the side closest to the couch. We have two tall barstools that fit underneath the island ledge but leave no room for adult legs. An ugly brown countertop is the only color that, combined with the red couch, brighten up the place.

A sliding door in between the couch and the island sections off the bedroom, which is larger than I expected and much larger than our bedrooms in Singapore were. Because there is only a bed and two nightstands, the room looked mostly empty. I rearranged a bit, moving the full-sized bed and the two night stands to the smaller wall with the window, opening up the floor space leading into the hallway with the closets and the bathroom. The bed had to be moved again, just to leave a gap between the bed and the wall in order to keep the ants out of our bed. They happen to live in our window and don’t bother us at all really until they are crawling on us and then it’s not so fun.

We one large closet with sliding doors connected along a single wall. Each of us has an area for hanging clothes and shelving; the bathroom is opposite the closet and offers a stand-in shower, something that so far seems standard. The water in the shower beats out every second as opposed to offering a steady stream and generally cuts out every 45 seconds but it serves its purpose.

To the left of the bedroom door upon exiting is another built-in desk area. And that is our entire house. We have a tiny bed and a tiny couch so we have a lot of together time and a lot of touch time whether we want it at the time or not.

Our kitchen is stocked with enough plates and cookware for a single meal, maybe two if we have cereal for breakfast instead of something heated. I have one very large stew pot and two small pots for veggies, one large skillet and one deep baking pan. I have one sharp knife and one bread knife. These things limit me but I am grateful that I didn’t have to buy anything.

Our place definitely has its quirks. The power goes out every day so there is no sense in setting clocks. Our towels and bed linens aren’t without stains sometimes. Every channel on the television has a different volume setting (no joke) and we can hear planes any time they are powered. But this is home…for now.

Maybe it’s the distance that makes the hearts grow stronger or the little house as the song says but I do know that although I am confined to a small apartment in a gated compound with not a lot of places to go, I would rather be here in Papua New Guinea with my husband than anywhere else. (Cue Paul making vomit sounds)

Apartment Photos:

Our place is at the top of all these steps

Living room / kitchen with our awesome red couch

Bedroom with a full-size bed


View of the airport and the mountains from our bedroom. PNG is quite pretty from a distance.

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