With our flight set for next week it’s time to shop for our first 2-5 months in Kovol (we don’t have plans for when we will come out for our first break). We generally plan 2 months of supplies at a time and we request a helicopter supply flight when our supplies of pasta get low 🙂
Step one is, of course, planning, and Gerdine has that covered. We can expect up to a week of fresh food and then we’re dependent on frozen, tinned and starchy food. Having done it before, Gerdine now goes on her feelings to decide how much of each item we need. There’s a chance she will overlook something but even with perfect planning, miscommunications can mean that what actually arrives in the bush isn’t what we were expecting; you learn to be flexible! In the context of living in a village where people eat the same foods every day (which they grow themselves) without the opportunity for a helicopter to bring store goods to them, it definitely gives a sense of perspective that makes you willing to go without some things.
Step two is then the shopping. When we’re in Kovol this step is done on our behalf and while that service is still available to us even when we’re out in Goroka, we like to do our own supply-buying work when we can. We can get some items from the Lapilo store and there are 2-3 supermarkets and 1-2 pharmacies in town which we tend to visit. We like the stores that stock ‘Black and Gold’, an Australian brand. To us it represents quality but from what I gather from Australian friends it’s actually a value brand 😀
Being able to rent a mission vehicle is essential as we tend to clear the shelves of certain things. When we need 250 nappies a month to keep going, we tend to buy up the whole stock. Our breakfast every morning is very un-PNG like: oats with milk powder that we mix with water to make a porridge. There’s a store in town that usually has good oats and the 10kg we need tends to empty the shelf!
When the car is full of goodies (cheap Chinese Spam), the next step is packing it all up for flying. Kovol has a pallet set aside in Tribal Supply. We box it all up and every box gets a sticker with the box’s contents, destination, who to charge for transport, flight date, weight and priority. Come flight day, boxes are loaded into the helicopter starting with high-priority boxes until either the weight limit is reached or the doors won’t close anymore.
Again this step is done for us when we’re in the bush, but it’s nice to help out when we’re out and this is the reason we always add a week onto any breaks we are out for.
Tribal Supply is equipped with freezers too, so that’s where all our frozen stuff goes. Lots of frozen veg, frozen meat and maybe if we fancy a treat a frozen pie or two.
Buying tinned and frozen veg is a bit expensive though and so when we can we like to blanch vegetables we buy from the local market to send in frozen. Kovol doesn’t have a great variety or quantity of fruits and vegetables.
Then to finish off the supply buying we need a pig. We’re hoping that owning a pig is going to help us learn a tonne of language and culture (everyone keeps pigs in Kovol) and also quieten down the complaints people are making on our behalf that “pigs keep wrecking the white people’s garden – everyone needs to move far away from them”. Well if our own pig wrecks our own garden we can show with actions that pigs don’t bother us.
Asking around we learnt that friends of ours who had just got a baby pig offered him to us. So now Schniztzel the Kovol pig is flying with us (in an animal crate) into Kovol on Wednesday.
So we should be mostly ready to fly now. There’s bound to be a bit of last minute decision-making on flight day – oops, we’re too heavy – should we drop some pasta or some washing-up liquid type of decisions. I think we’re ready; we’ll find out a week after we arrive if we discover then that we have no yeast for bread-making or something else.