In our last visit to Kovol in the beginning of May we signed our land contract, cleared an area for our houses and started to get to know people. We’ll see you in 3 weeks we promised! We’re going to come back with chainsaws to start gathering wood for our houses.

I need to learn to be careful to make promises here in PNG! Maintenance issues with the helicopter meant we couldn’t do that, and we’ve not been able to go back since.
It’s looking promising now that Aug 5th will be the day we get to go back; 3 months, not 3 weeks later like we promised!

We need to prepare ourselves for more sitting…

We’ve got 2 ways to stay in touch with the Kovol people at the moment. We have a single mobile phone number for someone that lives in the village we’ll be moving to, but we can only rarely make contact that way. The guy keeps his phone off most of the time because he has no way to charge it.

Our other means of communication is when Kovol people hike over to the Pal missionaries a 4hour hike from them. Several times now Kovol people have come over to ask “So… where are our missionaries?”

The Pal missionaries relay the jist of the conversation to us. People are starting to get worried that we’re not coming back. They even asked “Did you Pal missionaries do something to our missionaries to stop them coming?” to which they could (patiently) reply “no, the helicopter is down – that’s the reason for the delay; they’ll be with you in August.”

Along with concern about how long it’s taking us to go back there are also rumours about land disputes. “We’ve heard that the land owners really aren’t happy with the Kovol team”, “We’ve heard that the Kovol team are going to be charged big money to stay on the land and cut down the trees.”
Now if that’s true it is cause for concern, but with rumours it’s just so difficult to sift out what’s true and what isn’t. The rumours are coming from the border village that is disappointed we’re not moving into their own village after all.

We marked our trees already, time to go back and turn them into planks

So what can we do? We go back in 2 1/2 weeks and we’re bringing a lot of equipment and tools with us this time. We want to land and be able to get to work and if we land in the middle of a land dispute we’ll have to hold fire and sort it out before we can cut any trees down.
We could hike in to check things out – but that’s a long, difficult hike that could end like this.
“We heard rumours.” “Nope, no problems, just rumours”. We don’t think there’s much chance we’d get to the bottom of it even if we were there.

So our plan is to fly in on Aug 5th as normal, but to expect that the first day or 2 is going to be sitting around and talking. We’re pretty goal orientated and want to jump straight into getting things done; but we’ll purposefully just sit and do nothing for a day or two to allow time for any potential issues to float up. We need to make sure to be as PNG as we can be, even if the westerner inside us is chafing to get started!


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