More than planned in Rabaul
Jun 3, 2013
|I woke up about 5:00 and couldn’t get back to sleep so I read a bit. Alice finally got up at 8:30 – she slept for over 12 hours (though she said she was up for a while during the night). We showered and went down to breakfast – she had French Toast and I had a couple of eggs. The Australians came in a bit later and ate with us. One of them had a traditional Australian (and English) breakfast – beans on toast.
On the way back to the room we met Suzie – the owner of the hotel. She was here in the 1994 eruption, Anyway, she was very enthusiastic and bubbly. She started rattling off things to do, The Aussies stopped by and she got use all to go together – map and all. So we got ready (bug spray a necessity – LOTS of mosquitoes) and headed off. We walked through what was the center of the town – but now it is virtually abandoned – empty lots covered in trees and vines and gray ash – everywhere... Some beautiful trees and many flowers and the occasional house.
We walked down the main street – Mango Avenue (the mangos were all destroyed by bombs in WW2) - a four land road with a median – deserted and covered with six inches or more of ash – everywhere ash. We turns at the first electric wire (no street signs) and walked down the street – nothing. So we looped around to the next street and found The Rabaul Social Club. At one time the colonial center of “The Paris of the East” an now – the Pompeii of the East. What was at one time a huge complex was reduced to a two room museum.
To get in the museum you had to reach behind a wire door and unlatch it, then use the key we were given to open the wooden door. No lights though – the power was out. In any event it was a museum mostly devoted to WW2. Many Japanese guns and other equipment – including the wing of a Zero – amazing stuff. While there the caretaker showed up and tried to get the lights on. No luck.
Also found out about Mary’s father. He was shot down in 1942 and assumed dead. In the 1950s they uncovered several bodies that had been beheaded in 1944 – and identified one of the bodies as her father. She was born two months after he was originally shot down.
We then crossed the street and went into Yamamato’s bunker – HQ wa sin the social club but during air raids he would enter the bunker. Not a huge place but two planning rooms each with a map of the pacific on the ceiling showing the distance to various locations. I reached up to touch it and a piece broke off in my hand – what a souvenir!
It was hot and humid… and Alice started feeling poorly – we were going to the memorial for a ship that was sunk by the US but was filled with Allied soldiers but we headed back to the room. When we got to the room she threw up all her breakfast… I stayed with her figuring it would pass but an hour later she threw up again. I went to the desk and some confusion ensued – they wanted to take her to the clinic but when I asked her she wanted to wait. By about 3:00 she was feeling much better.
I decided to take a walk downtown – not far at all – ash everywhere. People were very friendly – all the men would say hello or good afternoon. Several engaged me in conversation. Stopped in a convenience store – everything from machetes to cookies – many bags of rice. “ORO” cookies. Can goods. Very hot so I only stayed a little while.
Then I headed to the harbor – good view of the volcano – then back to the hotel. On the way some guys asked me to take their picture – then school kids did the same thing – only one asked for money… There were also many small stands selling beetle nuts – red seeds about the size of an almond that is a nice stimulant but it turns your teeth and gums red. I’ll get some tomorrow.
Back at the hotel I asked Suzie about the internet – the wifi is down but there is an expensive card I can get to hook up for 24 hours. She also sprained her ankle running after us this morning to tell us she gave us the wrong directions. She also offered to lend Alice her laptop so she could watch movies.
Back at the room all is well. Alice watching Dr. Oz.
We did get the laptop and Alice is engrossed in movies – probably will be all night. The phone card they got had no password with it – so after 30 minutes of trying they could not connect and discovered the problem. Suzie let me use their dial up to notify my classes – and it took almost 40 minutes to get the emails out. Yikes!
Alice still wasn’t feeling great so I went and had chicken with cashew for dinner, then read and got to sleep about 10:00 after trying to take pictures of a bunch of lizards on the wall across from our room.