The following describes my first day back at work, Monday 23 February.
6:30am – woke up to the sound of the ocean, cool breeze and sunlight. Lay there for half an hour. Get up at 7am, make banana smoothies for me and the flatmates. Relax on deck for a bit. Go to work.
Monday morning – back to work and I’m walking in quick sand – apparently I’ve been delegated some work but no-one took minutes so we don’t know what that was, had to tell the head of the Bougainville AIDS Committee that there will be no funding from the Bougainville Government for the committee this year (still sorting that one out), shortly after that the power was cut as once again PNG Power has failed to import the right amount of diesel for the generators.
Try to call Health Division but they haven’t paid phone bill. This is actually good, as that means I have to get out of the office and take a boat trip (the Division is on an island overlooking much of Bougainville). Beautiful day, calm, clear water, chat to some friendly locals in the boat. Get to the Division and find out they have done everything I’d asked before I left. Very good news. Also find out that meeting to approve funding for Health Summits takes place end of week. More good news.
Afternoon – bump into friends all over town, everyone pleased to see me back because everyone noticed I was gone. This place is great. Good to catch up with everyone, great to see them again.
Malaria hysteria – find out that four ex-pats have come down with malaria, including Mel and Kim, my flatmates. It’s the wet season so not surprising. They are doing well though so that’s good.
Gossip – find out that there is a strike in the markets. Apparently a women from the Solos area (one hour north) got into a fight with a women from Ieta (two minutes up the road). A strike is on between market sellers from the two different areas, so not as much produce in the market (this turned into a big protest march in town at the end of the week, people showed up armed, roads were closed, much diplomatic alarm due to missing ex-pats, who were in fact away fishing for the day).
Rait Man – forgot how people love whitey’s over here. Lots of red toothed smiles and waves from strangers and calls of “Rait Man” (legend). I smile, wave back and shake hands, say cheers and ask how they are.
It’s good to be back.