As was the custom during our years in Africa, the expatriate community was constantly approached by the locals looking for jobs of any sort so they could have some means of supporting themselves in the Capital city. There was no point in refusing them, because others would just follow on with their requests, and why not employ them so they had some means of supporting their families?
In our case, we took on Joseph as a gardener to deal with the trees and shrubbery that surrounded our house. He also pitched in with cleaning inside the house as necessary. As you can see from the photo, Joseph had the typical short stature of most of the Papua New Guineans. For this photo with me and our middle daughter, he decided to 'doll' himself up a bit with a couple of Hibiscus blossoms from our garden!
Port Moresby was the most uncomfortable place that I have lived in. This was due to the fact that it is located in the 'rain shadow' of the Owen Stanley mountain range and it also had drought conditions to boot. The average daily temperature was always 90 degF or more and varied between a high of 90 degF and a low of 73 deg F (32 to 23 degC) between the afternoon heat and cooler overnight, combined with high humidity and very little rain. Along with this, regulations against home air-conditioning (due to electric power supply shortages) resulted in us being in a constant state of perspiration. That naturally led to the custom of drinking cold San Miguel beers beneath the shade of our 'stilt' houses! Here, a bunch of families from work are enjoying a Christmas celebration with the beer stubbies insulated from the heat by styrofoam holders!
A 'mumu' is an earthen oven method of cooking, originally from the Highlands area of Papua New Guinea. Because the people of PNG traditionally had no cooking pots, except for one pot that they saved for special occasions, most food was roasted over a fire, which will do for a family but is an impractical way to cook for a larger party.
The underground 'mumu' oven, on the other hand, is dug to fit the necessary specifications of available food and the number of people to be fed.
We were invited to attend one of these feasts in Port Moresby by a local family who worked for one of our friends doing household tasks. After the hole was dug, stones were heated in it by burning wood on top of them. Once the fire had burned down, all but a thin layer of the hot stones were carefully removed, and a layer of large banana leaves was laid on the base layer of stones to steam the food.
Then followed a layer of hard vegetables, including sweet potatoes and other traditional New Guinean vegetables. Then came another layer of hot stones, directly under the main chicken dish. Another layer of leaves covered the chicken, and then the whole thing was covered completely with earth. The pit would be left for several hours before the contents were dug up and eaten. We really enjoyed this amazing cultural experience but be prepared for the cooked meat to have a 'white' (steamed) appearance instead of the 'brown' (roasted) look familiar to Westerners!!
The photo shows the young son of our friends as he helped to check out the final product!
A national PNG pasttime. It suppose to give chewers a more upbeat effect. It's like smoking and it is now becoming commercialised. It's one Kina for a hit!