Did you say “pit toilet”?

Yes. They did. Read on: see if you can find the toilet!

(Always a fun game to play overseas)

Here is a little more information from the missionaries in Papua New Guniea about our upcoming excursion in 2 weeks and counting!

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– What is acceptable for women to sleep in?

“Once you are under the blankets, you can sleep in whatever you want! Otherwise, have something to wear that you will be comfortable in the midst of the following possible scenarios: You might be sleeping in the same room with the other women in your party. They may put multiple married couples together in one room. They would not mix single men with single women, although they might put a single woman in with married couples. They may even put all of you on a thatch-covered verandah with no walls. You will want to have something to slip on in the middle of the night in case you need to go outside and use the pit toilet.”
Speaking of women, Melanie Leclerc, is a single missionary here who will be traveling with us and will sleep with the women in your group. She’s looking forward to the adventure.
In Lae, you’ll be in a motel type room with all the women. Probably a double bed and two bunk beds. And your own bathroom.
– Is it mountainous where we are hiking and do the women hike in skirts/dresses?
“Skirts or dresses are the culturally appropriate hiking wear for women. I prefer a dropwaist dress so I am not always having to yank my skirt back up. The skirt/dress should be full enough that you have good range of stride – otherwise, you risk pulled muscles in your hips/thighs. The best length is just below the knee so it isn’t dragging around your ankles getting caught in bush grass. This length is easier to gather up if you have to wade a stream or river as well. You may want to consider wearing some kind of exercise/bike short under your skirt. Be aware that you may get sweaty, so think about what might show through, especially from the waist up. (More embarrassing for you and your friends than PNGs.) A sport bra might be something to consider. Don’t go out and buy anything expensive, as it will be ruined by your standards by the time you leave PNG – ripped, stained, dingy. Besides, you’ll be sick of looking at it  If you can stand to just look like a dog when hiking and hanging out in the village, you’ll have a lot more fun  Then you get back to Lae and have a wonderful shower and put on your make-up and do your hair – and, well, — it’s just the most divine feeling!!”
The attached newsletter shows a couple shots of Amy wearing a dress while hiking. We won’t be going over any hanging bridges like the one in the letter, but we will walk across some small rivers. We’ll be hiking about 2-3 hours on Saturday and again on Sunday.
What is the general type of food available in the villages?
  • The villagers will provide food from their gardens, probably sweet potatoes, green onions, greens (like spinach), maybe corn or taro or some other things. Maybe they will kill a chicken or a pig while we are there. Hard to predict because some of the food is seasonal and pigs and chickens are only eaten for special events and are not always available. 
  • We will bring some store food to contribute to the group meal: rice, tea, sugar, milk, some sort of canned meat, popcorn, salt.
  • The village women will cook it all up into healthy, good tasting meals.
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– While we are PNG will there be any internet (mainly to check on kids)?
There will be internet access via a UBS modem while in Lae for the first night and full day (Nov 5-6). I can provide a computer for you to use to go on the internet. If you would like that, just ask. On the morning of the 7th we’ll leave for Kapin and until we return on the afternoon of the 9th, we will be out of internet contact. It would be possible to hike about 45 minutes up a mountain and connect by cell phone in emergencies. But I don’t think there will be internet access even up on the mountain. On the afternoon of the 9th, we’ll get back to Lae and you’ll be able to connect to the internet again. While in Lae, you should be able to use Skype if you’d like.
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– In the villages, what are the sleeping conditions?
We’ll probably be given a room in a house or in a couple houses. They probably will designate one place for women and one for men. It probably will have walls (at least the woman’s sleeping area.) We may be offered mattresses and pillows, but not always since they may not have any that are nice enough to feel right about giving it to us use. I usually bring a single sheet and a blanket. Or a lightweight sleeping bag works good too. Blankets and sheets can be purchased in Lae if you don’t have something you want to bring. You will probably have about the space of a laid out sleeping bag to sleep. I usually bring a small camping foam mat, but if you want softer, you could bring a camping mattress that inflates (like a Thermarest). I Usually roll up some clothes and use them for a pillow, but you could bring an inflatable pillow.
Below is a picture of where a group of about four of us slept last time we were in a Kapin village. I doubt we’ll sleep in the same place, but something like that. They gave us that place to stay because it was new and had not been used before. They will give us the best place to sleep that they can think of.

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Here are some pictures of the cooking area and food. The food is usually served family style and each person dishes up what they want:
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– As far as mosquito nets – what type do you recommend?
Something lightweight that you tie the corners to the beams of the ceiling to hold it up. There are some available to buy in Lae for pretty reasonable prices, but if you’re tall, then it is best to bring one with you. I would avoid the ones with poles because we may be put in a room where we won’t have room to set that kind of mosquito net up. There probably won’t be many mosquitos (at least by Minnesota summer standards), but it’s good to use a net because the ones that are around carry malaria. And it’s a good idea to use some repellant in the late afternoon and early morning.
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