Lindblad Expeditions - From the Oceanic Discoverer in Papua New Guinea - BobTonkinson, cultural specialist

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From the Oceanic Discoverer in Papua New Guinea

Nov 6, 2012 - Oceanic Discoverer

Tuam Island dancers

Tami and Tuam Islands

Awakened at an ungodly early hour by the dulcet voice of Larry, we quickly breakfasted then scrambled onto Xplorer for a 7:00 a.m. (yes!) visit to Tami Island, home of magnificent wooden carvings second only to the best of the Trobriands. As usual, the friendly locals were ready for us and we landed within yards of the artifacts, so no time was lost in perusal of the wide variety of wooden objects and shell ornaments on offer. We were back on board, changed and ready for water sports before nine – some kind of record, for sure. It was too rough for the glass-bottomed boat, but the corals were wonderful for those of us in the water.

After a buffet lunch, we went upstairs and I spoke about the ubiquity of magic and sorcery in Melanesia while our ship hurried towards Tuam Island for our afternoon visit. When we arrived, a very sweet voiced and beautifully decorated children’s dancers/choir greeted us. Tuam is a raised coral island, with ten clans and a population of about 300; the wind was roaring in, and we thus understood the presence of something I’ve never seen in Island Melanesia before: windbreaks, which also protected some of the island’s gardens. The setting and the people are particularly pleasant, and the two dance troupes that entertained us expertly are renowned throughout this part of PNG for their creativity and precision. Most of us wandered to the other end of the village, where a very large pig is kept near the beach, and some of us ventured much further. The locals are particularly friendly, and as usual we clearly enjoyed the dancing of their talented troupes.

As we returned to the ship, the intensifying wind was really kicking up the waves. It certainly was a long and full day, but everyone seemed to be ready to rock and roll.