Alotau Festival

Alotau Festival

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Kiriwina Island

Our second port of call was at Kiriwina Island, the largest island in the Tobriand Group. The island is quite large and is home to some 12000 people, most of whom live subsistence lifestyles. I hesitate to call our place of stop as a "port" - as no cruiseship had ever disembarked some 2000 passengers on this island ever before -- except perhaps in World War 2. Nevertheless, it was a really BIG day for both us and the local island residents. I am still unsure of what they were thinking at the end of the day - a huge cruiseship appeared close offshore, disgorging 2000 white people (which was a shock to the very many children there - it must have been because later in the day while I was swimming, a child swam up to me and tenderly and a little fearfully touched my face - and asked me what my name was). On top of all this, for the first time ever, the PNG Prime Minister and his entourage flew into the island by helicopter - and all this to open the only jetty that the island has ever seen (once again, at least in recent times -- perhaps there were landing places in WW2??)

Yes -- it was a BIG day!!!  - and probably as overwhelming for the locals as it was for us.

It became very hot that day - but we didn't want to miss anything, so we stayed on the island for as long as we could. There was a lot going on - traditional dancing, and we simply talked to many people. Some could speak quite good English while others not. A fair bit of money was left behind on the island -- the islanders had obviously been well organised by (the PNG Government ??) to sell their craft wares -- I bought a beautiful carved wooden walking stick, inlaid with mother-of-pearl. I am not sure how or where the islanders will spend their new found wealth - because there is no cash economy on the island at all among the 12000 residents. One man told us that if he were to get come cash money - he would be able to use it at "the Station" -- whatever that means , I think it must be some kind of Mission Station??

You can see where the island is HERE   There is only one road and the jetty has been built at the northern end of it.

I have made a video of some photos that we took (HERE)  and also of the famous Trobriand Island style of cricket (HERE)  -- but a Google search reveals far superior photography than mine (Kiriwina Island)  and (Tobriand Cricket)   Their cricket is just a little bit different to ours -- they have a bat and ball and a bowler and batsmen -- but just a few more fieldsmen ( I believe up to 300!!) . The object of the game seems to intimidate the batsman as much as possible with singing and dancing and mass rushes towards him before he receives the ball being bowled at him.

All things considered - this was an exhausting and overwhelming day -- but a wonderful day and probably as good as it gets when cruising to see different cultures.

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