Our countryside drive took us to the small village of Aiyura, not too far from Kainantu. As soon as you start to explore in the Highlands, it will not be long before you come across the locals going about their everyday tasks in this heavily populated part of Papua New Guinea.
These two ladies very kindly let me take their photo, and they are quite typical of what you will see. Being dressed in various combinations of 'western' clothing is common. However, both women have traditional 'bilums' slung from their foreheads and resting on their backs. These string bags are common everywhere in PNG and are used for any number of purposes such as carrying babies or food while leaving the hands free. Traditionally made from the inner bark of wild tulip trees, they are now also woven from commercial yarns. However, the colourful patterns are authentic and can be used to identify which particular area the bags come from.
I have no idea what is in the big sack on top of one ladies head, but, with her umbrella, it does look like she is prepared for rain just like an English gentleman would be!
Not much later, we came across this couple meandering along the side of the unsealed back-country road we were travelling. This gentleman is carrying his trusty bow and arrow combination, probably in the hope of spotting some small wild game. However, even into the 1980s, when I was there, the tribes were not afraid to resort to battles with arrows and rocks flying back and forth if a 'slight' of some sort took place. This could be the result of someone's prized pig being killed or stolen or even 'payback' if a member of one tribe was injured in an automobile accident by someone from a different tribe. I never heard of any expatriates being caught up in these inter-tribal fights, but you could be severely beaten if involved in an accident where someone was hurt. The policy was to head to the police first for your safety, don't hang around the accident site!
I am not sure what the woman with him has managed to find for food, but she is carrying a major plant of some sort. The land is very fertile in the mountains, and all sorts of crops are grown to feed the large population living in this part of the country. Her lack of shoes is not uncommon and I was always amazed at the durable-looking feet of the locals!