We started a stop watch as we left the house in England, and stopped it as we stepped into our guest flat in Papua New Guinea and our journey clocked in at 38 hours and 10 minutes 🙂 It was a smooth journey though, smooth as a buttered seal – which I imagine is pretty smooth.
Our kids were amazing, not a single tantrum! Oscar did ask a few times in queues of various sorts “why is this so long and boring?”, which is a valid question! He watched a lot of movies, slept a lot and seems to have changed time zone already having slept straight through the night and is showing no signs that an afternoon nap will be needed.
Alice and Millie had a more disturbed night, which matches their more disturbed sleeping on the plane. Their sleeping happened in 1-3 hour snatches, but another passenger on our first flight (7 hrs long) said “wow, those are the best babies I’ve ever flown with” after they barely gave a peep.
Everyone was fairly exhausted on arrival and poor Oscar had to be lifted out of his seat from the final plane as he just couldn’t shake the sleep off to get up! A fellow passenger offered to carry him out of the plane, which at least got him down the stairs before he realised he was in a stranger’s arms and he wasn’t happy about it! We exchanged numbers with the man afterwards, and he’s going to be coming for a visit to give us some fruit soon (oh PNG!).
Travel is almost back to normal it seems. Airports are much busier than they were last year, the paperwork is more extensive, but everyone’s used to it now so the queues get processed at a decent rate.
We’re really thankful that our PCR tests arrived on time so we could travel to the airport with our covid certificates. I went to bed realizing that I’d made a mistake booking the test – the results were guaranteed to arrive 24 hrs after they arrived in the lab, not 24hrs after we took the test as I thought. We just had to trust God with it, and we both managed to sleep well – but were disappointed to wake up and find the results hadn’t come yet. They did come a few hours later though.
Likewise we were grateful that we managed to jump the queue for getting our lateral flow tests done on arrival in Port Moresby. A technical glitch that wouldn’t let us create an account on the covid testing app we needed meant we could register with the lab’s tablet instead, and we basically jumped to the front of the line. Air Niugini had rescheduled our 3rd flight for an hour and 20 minutes later than ticketed (with no explanation), leaving us arriving at 6am with a 9am flight to catch, needing to go through covid testing, covid paperwork checks, immigration, baggage reclaim, customs, baggage check-in and security. We ended up only sitting in the departures lounge for 20 minutes.
Security was definitely sped up by the fact that the PNG people LOVE twins. Alice and Millie turned heads all over the terminal and security were so besotted with them I don’t think they even checked our bags as they went through the scanner. We didn’t receive any special treatment for flying with 2 babies the whole trip, but not so in PNG 🙂
Baggage reclaim after a domestic PNG flight is always entertaining. This time on the baggage carousel I saw:
- An umbrella (on its own tagged with a label)
- A toilet cistern
- A foam mattress turned into a large suitcase with tape
- Something in the shape of an anvil
Arrival in Goroka feels so very normal. The bus ride back to Lapilo is a well-travelled route for us and it feels like home. It is sort of all new for Oscar though, because he was 2 years old last time he was here and couldn’t verbailze what he was thinking.
“The roads are really bumpy here Oscar, so you can’t put your head against the window” (as a bump causes him to whack his head on the glass).
“Everything is jungle here” (as he looks out at the valley).
“I came outside and the hot touched me, and now my hair is sweaty” (cuddles with kids are much stickier over here!)
Despite being familar there are those “oh yeah” moments as you adapt:
“oh yeah, bread goes in the fridge here”,
“oh yeah, ants” (as ants crawl all over Alice during a nappy change).
It also feels like it’s much more colourful here, as if a vivid filter has been put over my vision. Strong sunshine and greenery everywhere . I remember just over a year ago adapting to how muted and dim everything looked in Bracknell.
They say it takes a day to get over every hour of time difference you’ve travelled when it comes to jet lag, so we’re looking at 10 days to really settle into the time zone, but we had a chance to meet up with our team today just before the Stous family fly back into Kovol tomorrow. Unfortunately Philip was knoced out with sickness, but it’s still the first time the Kovol team has been all together in the last 2 years! As we exchanged stories we’ve come to look forward even more to getting back in ourselves.
First things first, we’ve got a few days for our family. New climate, new foods and new habits. Having worked really hard to teach Oscar that he had to wear shoes on returning to the UK we’re now trying to get him to accept the idea that he doesn’t have to wear shoes and he’s all confused! 🙂
Hopefully it won’t be too long before Alice and Millie sleep through the night again too!