We just got back from our 3 day PMV hike. A PMV is a public motor vehicle, usually a 15 passenger van, bus, truck, or even a dump truck! that takes people from one place to another. The trick is, there isn’t a schedule to show when they stop, and you never know where they stop. Everyone in PNG uses them to ride from place to place so it was a great learning experience. Evan and I went with a guide, Papa Ganig, who is a bit of a “big man” in the community. Everyone knows him.
The first day we caught a PMV down the mountain on a 5 ton truck, where everyone but us and the driver sat in the back. Most of the rides we were asked to sit in the front because we are “whiteskins” and they want to make sure we are safe. We definitely appreciated that on these bumpy roads! After we got into town Papa Gagnig told us it would only be 30 minutes before the next PMV came. 6 hours later, it finally came! So we did a lot of sitting and talking with the people. We made lots of friends. One of the highlights of the trip was what happened next. Once we got to our first village we were greeted by all of the children in the village throwing flowers and singing songs. They led us singing through the whole village until we got to our house. Our house was so nice! It was new and had pretty decorations all around. It has 4 bedrooms and even a dining room with a table and chairs (Most village houses don’t have any furniture). The outhouse was brand new and they even built a covered picnic table to eat at. After we arrived in the village we went washing in the river and then went to eat. They made a ton of food for us. Things like cooking bananas, rice, sweet potatoes, and chicken soaked in coconut milk. It was delicious! Once it got dark they asked us to preach to them in Tok Pisin by the light of the fire. Ha! So I selected a passage in Matthew about the children coming to Jesus. Then all of the children sang some worship songs in Tok Pisin. It was such a great moment, even when it started to rain.
The next day we woke up and they fixed us a big breakfast before we took off for the next village. After breakfast we walked about 30 minutes to the main road where the PMV would pick us up. We waited about 1 1/2 hour and then we rode to the next village. At the next village we were greeted with a shower of flowers that the family threw at the PMV. Then we had the whole day to talk and get to know them. Around noon Evan began getting a migraine just from the heat and the mental power of talking so much in Tok Pisin. So they graciously allowed us to go take a nap in the house on the hill that we were staying with. After we got up we hiked to the place where they washed. It was far! I can’t believe that they walk that far every day to wash. Once we got there the water was very stagnant, but I jumped in anyway. It was nice and cool. The men and women washed in separate places, and I kept my clothes on because as always I had an audience of children watching me :). After we got back from washing we spent the evening talking, eating, playing darts, playing guitar and singing with them. We had a lot of fun.
We woke up the next day to lots of rain. We left the village about 8am and walked about 45 minutes to the main road. We caught a PMV ride in the rain with a rickety old PMV that Evan had to hold the door closed as we drove. Ha! It also had so many cracks in the windshield we could hardly see out of it. Luckily we made it into town with our host Papa, and two other girls from the family leading the way. We stood in the rain waiting for the final PMV for about 2 hours before we heard that it broke down and wasn’t running for the day. So Papa Gagnig led us to a PMV that was a lot like a bus that took us down the highway to our last ride. As we got out of the bus, we saw one of our trucks pull up! Hallelujah! Matt (the maintenance director) picked us up at the bottom of the mountain and we jumped in the back of the truck and road the rest of the way in the rain standing up in the back of the truck because it was already quite full of people.
Wow! We had such a great experience. We feel like we learned so much about getting around in this country and made lots of friends. Here are some pictures from our experience. I also have some video, but I will post that later.
Our PMV down the mountain
Sitting at the park in town for 6 hours waiting for our PMV.
Evan with our guide, Papa Gagnig and our host PapaThis woman was selling chickens at the market.
A market outside of town. Logging is a very big industry here.The first village we went to, we had so much fun! We stayed in a huge house and the whole village sang to us as we walked in. They made us feel so welcome.Papa Gagnig on the steps to our very nice village house. Cement steps are very rare here!
Packages of betel nut, a nut the Papua New Guineans chew here that is like caffeine that turns their mouths red.
The house we stayed in our 2nd village.
Hanging out with the family in the “haus wind” or the dining room.
Our 2nd village host family, and their dog.
One of the last PMV rides, where Evan had to hold the door closed as it was raining. It also had zipties tied to the windshield wipers for “decoration”