Monday, November 30, 2009
A Buzz in the Air
For nearly 40 minutes my mouth hung open in awe. I didn’t know whether to hold on to my seat or jump from the window with the over whelming since of vertigo. Either way, my recent helicopter ride from the mountainous terrains of the PNG Highlands, through the vast Ramu Valley and rivers to Madang’s pristine coastline, was incredible.
Making friends with the pilots who live two doors down from our house on Coronation Drive has its advantages. I was in Kundiawa for an education conference and Jolanda had taken advantage of the VSO vehicle driving through Goroka to climb Mt. Oto before the end of her placement. Neither of us was looking forward to the 6 hour, body-jarring drive back to Madang. Lucky for us, one of the pilots was on a flight from Lae to Madang and felt sorry for us poor volunteers and decided to “scoop us up.” Just like that, like it was no big deal. Jolanda and I couldn’t believe this was happening. What were we going to tell the other volunteers? “Oh sorry we aren’t going to be riding back with you guys. We have another ride with a friend who is picking us up in his helicopter.” That’s exactly what we said before their eyes turned green with envy.
Watching the terrain change so quickly from the “broccoli” covered mountains, to the rivers and valleys, to the coconut lined coast was incredible. The highlands were very remote with the occasional cluster of villages with round huts and patchwork gardens. It was amazing to feel the cool breeze through the windows and when we flew through bits of cloud coverage I remember thinking…I am literally in the clouds! When we came to the Ramu Valley, the pilot knew we would be in for an adventure. We decided to get a bit lower and follow the river. It was amazing to observe life from this perspective. The children were jumping and splashing full of excitement of seeing the helicopter. Men were fishing and women washing clothes and dishes, but all looked up to wave. Soon the air in the cabin was warmer and the coast came into view.