If you fail to plan then you plan to fail. So I had a plan, a plan I hatched before the Independence weekend. I wanted to extract from Gavuone village 40 bags of coral for my new house which I’ve been renovating. For those of you that know Central Province, Gavuone is about 5 minutes drive from Kupiano (hope I spelt that right). Lucky for me, my good sister Beats (or Betty) is from there so with her family and friends we set out to visit her village for the PNG Independence weekend (and of course so that I could get my bags of coral).
So I hired a big 4 tonne Mitsubishi Fuso ‘Fighter’ truck, a driver for the truck and I bought 47 50kg bags from Erima to collect my coral. (The coral is to be used for my footpath at my new house, but my new house is another story for another day). The plan was simple, drive to the village and to it’s beach. Load coral in the bags, then chuck it on the truck, have a swim and then come back to POM Sunday afternoon in time to watch 60 minutes on EMTV.
But the best laid out plans can always come undone (not that mine was one of those best laid out plans). For starters it began to rain. I mean what is that?? After a dry spell for some months now it decides to start raining on the day we want to hit the Hiritano Highway. Again I say what is that??
The traveling group consisted of two cars. The Fuso and Betty’s partner Sherman’s Hilux. Now this is where things get interesting. After we passed Kwikila and we had started on the dirt road the battery in the Hilux started to show signs it was dying. Well that was it, before you could say ‘Good Golly Gosh we’re Going to Gavuone’ the lights, aircon, radio, windscreen wipers everything except for the engine (thank God) went out. The only lights we had to follow now were the blinkers on the Fuso. In addition to that we had to have someone hang on the side of the car to wipe the windscreen outside, someone inside to wipe the condensation and someone out the back giving directions to avoid potholes, trees and just to stay on the road.
What was planned to be a 3 hour trip turned into a 9 hour journey. So that teamwork of outside window wiping etc went on for 5 hours straight until we got to the Gavuone village. Then at the village we had more problems the Fuso had the wrong set of tyres on so they weren’t gripping the mud and so after allot of revving and human power pushing the truck we were able to get it moving up a muddy hill and that took 2 hours to do. We ended up going to bed at 6am on Saturday morning, we were stuffed…
After a nice rest, woke up on Saturday morning (again) to have some breakfast and to explore the village and of course for me to get that coral I came looking for. Was a bit tired but hell after coming all that way I was determined to get what I came for and to have some fun, dammit.
Now as I said before I though the coral extraction plan would be as simple as driving up to the beach and loading the bags. Unfortunately what I found out was that we had to take a dingy into the mangroves 15 minutes away, fill up the bags and then cart them back to the beach. Then from the beach we would have to carry them up to the truck which was unable to get to the beach. Sounds okay, but not when you consider that each bag with coral in it weighs about 25kg and I was looking at getting 40 bags back to Pom. So I finally settled on 27 bags instead and it took us 2 dingy trips to get the coral to the beach from the mangroves.
And in case you’re wondering yes I did carry the bags as well (and they’re not very light either). The coral was deposited in the mangroves so it’s pretty much just a big heap of coral just lying there for us to dig up.
After gathering my bags of coral with the kind and generous help from Betty’s relatives, I spent the rest of the day just site seeing with our trusty guide Denzil and swimming and taking pictures. It really is a beautiful place and it’s just great to be able to get out of Pom for a couple of days. There’s a great picnic island out there which we didn’t have time to visit, but I get the feeling I’ll be back there sometime soon.
So all in all, mission accomplished. I got my coral and I got a little holiday. To Betty, Denzil, Halet, Taera and the wonderful relatives of Gavuone, thank you for the wonderful weekend (and coral). You can see all the pics on my Flickr account.