Zero and betel nut!
Jun 8, 2013
|Up early and to the dining room for our free continental breakfast – toast, cereal, a bit of fruit and papaya juice. Alice wanted some meat so we ordered two sausages and two bacon strips - $16… Ouch. Sunny day though.
Back to the room and still no internet – then to the desk and was told the servers are still down. Maybe this afternoon?? In any event I scheduled a 4 hour tour to the local sights – Alice wanted to spend the day at the pool and beach. We’ll see how that works out.
About 10:00 I met Lawrence and Vivian at the desk and off we went. First to the Australian and Indian cemetery – a very well maintained site that they were in the midst of replacing most of the markers. For the Australians most were named. For the Indians “A soldier of the Indian Army is honored here.”
Then back into town to Queen Emma’s steps – a local queen whose house was bombed in WW2 – all that remains are a set of steps and the golf course – which was the estate right next to the sea. Then we were going to stop in at the war museum but it was closed, so we went to the local market. Much bigger than Rabaul. There was a section for each type of food – Fruit, vegetables, cooked foods, crafts, sweets. Wonderful colors and smells and a real hustle and bustle about the place. Very friendly people.
Back to the museum and Lawrence yelled at a building and an old guy came out and unlocked the gate. The place was full of war relics – tanks, cannons, aircraft engines, bombs. A quite impressive Long Lance torpedo and around the back – the remains of a zero. Then we took a look at a caged crocodile.
Lawrence had gone and gotten a betel nut and the two of them showed me how to chew it. I had some trouble getting off the husk but chewed the nut, then the mustard, then the mineral lime. Not a strong taste – kind of like chewing a piece of soft wood. The chemical reaction turned the white nut into an orange/red. After chewing a bit (and making sure you put the lime on the nut and not directly on your flesh – it would cause a burn) you were to spit out a bit of the juice. I, of course, slobbered all over myself. Rats. After a bit I started sweating profusely and felt a little dizzy – but that was it. The burst of energy I was supposed to get – not so much. Some people become very addicted though.
Then up some steps to the war room – an original piece of nose art from one of the B-17s that flew into Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack was on the wall as well as some smaller relics. Interesting, but poorly maintained.
Finally back to the hotel. Alice was in the pool. We played bottle catch for a while then back to the room just as the maid finished cleaning. Then thunder, a bit of lightening, and rain… rain… rain… For almost three hours the showers have varied between moderate and very heavy. I went up to the hotel gift shop and chatted with one of the clerks about modernization in PNG = she was fighting against it – except for “mobiles” and medicine and security and… But I think she was really missing the past her grandparents talked about.
In any event I bought three masks (surprise!) and set up transport for the morning. We have to get up around 5:00 AM for the 5:30 bus to the airport. The rain has kept us from a final trip to the supermarket so no cheap foods to bring back.
The rain continued into the night so at about 7:00 I went over to dinner – Alice wanted to watch some show about guys with metal detectors – and had ginger chicken with shallots. As I sat in the restaurant there was thunder and flashes of lightening in the Bismark Sea. Imagination runs wild…
Finally back at the room one more check on the internet connection (nope) so pack, shower, and am ready for bed – Alarm is set for 5:00 AM.