It was just starting to get light when I took off on my motorcycle at 6:00 am down the Sepik Highway. The Sepik Highway is the main road through the mountains all the way to Sandaun province. It starts as a good two lane road which eventually sprouts potholes like a teenager with acne until you arrive in Maprik, 2.5 hours and 60 miles later. Starting at Maprik, the road has sections of gravel where the road is being fixed and narrows to a 1.5 lane road that is further reduced by the 6 feet tall grass that crowds the road searching for light. Young kids (and sometimes teenagers) run to the road to yell and wave at the sound of an approaching motorcycle. Many times I played “chicken” with a chicken as it ran back and forth on the road in panic.
40 miles past Maprik is the dirt road that goes to Tau. The road was in “good” condition because it had not rained for several days. 5 miles and 45 minutes later I arrived at Tau. For me, the road to Tau was intense concentration interspersed with moments of “Hold on for dear life because I am so out of control”. Part of the mountain road was damp shale which was violently opposed to my passage (there were ridges and it was extremely slippery). Some people actually pay to do this.
When I arrived in Tau, the leaders were already gathered for a school meeting that had not started yet. We talked for an hour about requirements for the Oral Bible Storying workshop they were invited to attend that starts February 3. This language is one of three language groups that are having trouble coming because the PMVs (Public Motor Vehicles) that service this area were not running. Some place near this area was accused of using sorcery to kill someone, so until this problem is resolved the PMV’s that service this area are not allowed to run to Wewak. It has also been difficult to communicate with them because cell phone service is spotty and there is no electricity to charge phones.
On the way back, I stopped to don my rain jacket and a group of people soon gathered and wanted their picture taken. They were very interested in what I do and about God’s Word in their language. Despite the problems that are sometimes reported in the news, I find most PNG people to be very friendly and likable people.
A arrived back in Wewak a little after 5 pm after 225 miles, 10 hours in the saddle and an almost empty gas tank. I hope it isn’t too much longer before I’m able to sit down comfortably again!