So much to do!
Our move into Kovol was certainly eventful. I and Gerdine landed on time at 8 am and were greeted by hundreds of people and much shaking of hands ensued.
The 10-year-old boy with a ghastly leg injury was nowhere to be seen, so there was no immediate step into medical action necessary. The story I managed to get later was that the parents had heard a rumour that the hospital only accepts patients who have a photo ID, and they were afraid they would get in trouble because they don’t have that. From the description of the injury, it sounds like that boy will be in serious trouble if he doesn’t get out at some point. Maybe we’ll be seeing him later.

We landed in beautiful weather, but that changed quickly. The second flight got to within hearing distance of Kovol when a wall of cloud came in and covered us over and the helicopter couldn’t land. It was forced to take the Hansen’s back to Madang. From then on the day alternated between clouds, intense rain, lightning storms and general bad weather. It looked like we might be the only team members to make it, but finally, at 5 pm the clouds cleared and the remaining two flights brought our entire team in. Our pilot had to stay the night as it was close to dark by the time the Stous family arrived!

Our welcome committee

We actually arrived to a nice and a horrible surprise. The nice surprise was the ‘tunnel of welcome’. A few hundred people lined up from the chopper pad to our house and we walked along the line shaking every hand. Oscar got a lot of attention and he handled it very well, he was pretty happy to have spotted a village dog so he could point and say “woof!”

The horrible surprise was the smell when we got in the house. Something smelled off, and going to the freezer we saw that it wasn’t actually on and our stash of frozen meat and veg was now a rotten puddle of 3-inch deep red liquid. Ergh. The smell was unbelievable! We had to dump the entire contents of the freezer down the latrine hole and scrub the inside of the freezer out. It still smells now!
Our meal plan is going to have to be adjusted…
Turns out that it was my own fault. I hadn’t gotten round to putting a switch on our water pump yet and leaving on the last trip I pulled the fuse for it out of the fusebox. You don’t want to spring a leak and have the pump pump your entire water tank through the leak after all. Problem was I missed and pulled the fuse for the freezer instead!

Our water tank overflowing in the constant rain

And so begins the teamwork – we’ll be borrowing from our coworkers till the next flight in two weeks. Anyone got tips on removing rancid meat smell from a freezer?

The time has been a challenging balancing act of getting our priorities right. We’ve been attempting to clean and unpack, spend time with our very friendly new neighbours, give Oscar the time he needs and work on building projects.

Cleaning and unpacking is ‘as little as possible’ right now. We’ve decided to open our houses up for tours the first 3 days. We want to nip in the bud any wild rumours about the secret treasures we hoard in our houses and the magic we do to get them. It’s true our houses are fancier, but we’re not hiding a secret to cargo.
The tour involves hundreds of pairs of muddy, bare feet wandering around our houses. We’re there to explain things, show off how the stove works, show off what ice feels like etc.
The item that got the most attention on our home was a woven, wicker heat pad we have to put our tea pot on. There was much excitement about it and questions about who made it (not me!)
Our floor is in a state right now, but we won’t be cleaning till the last set of muddy feet have come through. After tomorrow our houses will be off limts so our families have space.

The tour begins!

Oscar after absolutely loving the first day had a very challenging day today. He grew very tired of the crowds and needed quite a bit of dedicated attention, more than he ever normally wants or needs. We were happy to give it to him, reading books and playing cars in a quiet corner of the house. His afternoon nap went a full hour and a half longer than usual, poor guy is exhausted! We’re glad to see he picked back up this evening and had a great time clomping around in the mud (constant rain all day today) in his wellies.

The Kovol ladies loving bossing Gerdine around

As for house work hot water is up and running again (cold showers last night), kitchen sink is plumbed in, twin tub is ready to wash, laundry line up, towel racks in bathroom are up and the solar hot water system is pressurized and not leaking.

With me spending the day in Oscar care and building projects Gerdine has been the most social. I’m a familiar face after all and this is the first time the ladies get to spend time with the ladies on our team. Today was a lesson in preparing a feast and serving it out. Gerdine wasn’t too happy to be squeezing fresh pig blood into leafy greens, but that’s what was on the menu 🙂

The welcome ‘harmony’ feast

Tomorrow looks set to be another hectic day, but each day our experience moves further along the comfort scale from camping to home 😀


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