Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Driving to Mt. Wilhelm

To get to Mt. Wilhelm we had to drive from Kudjip to Kundiawa (about 1 hour). From Kundiawa we took a nonpaved dirt road (about 3 hours) that goes around mountains until we reached the end of the road and parked the car to walk to base camp. The road conditions in PNG aren't always the best with lots of potholes, areas where the road is washed away, and bridges that are questionable to hold your weight. We got to see all of this as we drove to Mt. Wilhelm. I tried to sleep at times, but with all the bumps it wasn't possible.

On the way to Kundiawa a big semi truck got stuck on one part of the road. Cars were lined up and parked with everyone getting out seeing what was going on. The local folks decided people could drive around the semi, so they put some rocks so the vehicles could get traction to go around it. So after sitting for about 20 minutes and everyone telling us we can pass it, we gave it a try. We drove up to the semi only to find Coaster buses, and other PMVs attempting to come down. They finally stopped the traffic coming down after about 12 cars, and then we got to go up, after we paid 10K to the locals for putting the stones in.

The view on the road from Kundiawa to where you park your car was amazing. We traveled around mountains, we would go up and around a mountain over a bridge and around another mountain and a bridge. At times, we got stopped by locals who had done road work and wanted payment for it. One point the road was almost washed away, but just wide enough for a vehicle to squeeze by, I was thankful I wasn't driving. It was amazing to see gardens built on the hillsides. The people sure use all the land they possibly can. Some houses were built on top of the mountains, or there were paths leading from a house to the top where a garden was. It made me very thankful for where the station is here at Kudjip, but how hard the life must be for these folks. I really don't know what their day to day routine is, but I am sure it isn't easy.