Lake Kutubu is situated in the Southern Highlands of PNG, linguistically it is an interesting location for PNG. On one half of the lake, one enters true Highland country where the people still proclaim to be Niuginians, and on the southern end, they may call themselves Papuans, and indeed, many of the older members of the community will still speak in Motu rather than the Highland influenced Pidgin.
The opportunity to spend a day with the local people of Lake Kutubu was fantastic and I saw things that will remain with me. The group of us boarded a small boat and we then spent the day cruising on the tranquil water. Our first stop was the Village of the "Captain of our boat" and we stopped to refuel. All of the children of the village came to the water's edge to look and giggle. We took photos which only encouraged more giggling. It was only as our vessel chugged away that the children would call out "Bye" at the top of their lungs and wave until we could no longer see them.
Our next point of call was a small village with a massive Longhaus. The Longhaus was were the men of the village lived and talked stuff to do with being men. All the women and children lived in smaller huts away from the Longhaus. The women of our party were not allowed access to the inside of the Longhaus, but us men all wandered in and proceeded to talk stuff to do with being men.
The interesting thing with this village was that only the young boys of the village came down to greet us, we did not see any women or young girls for the introduction to their village. As we (the Men) wandered around the Longhaus, the young boys whom met us journeyed into the Longhaus also. It was apparent that the young boys were not normally allowed inside such a building as they thoroughly enjoyed being inside with their new white friends.
But wait... I discovered some Bixa orellana which is a plant in which the Native South American women would paint themselves in the red seeds. It also provides Margarine with it's anatto food colouring. The village people showed me how to decorate their noses and faces with the dye from the seeds. Now, my camera, my clothes and backpack are stained red...
After viewing the Longhaus, we wandered down to the village green where games of football would be held, but on this occasion, all the women of the village came to greet us after their Sunday Church services.
It was a shame to leave such a warm reception but we had a lake to lap. The next stop was a limestone outcrop in which the bones of the long departed were laid in the sunshine to bleach. Allegedly some of the remains had been there since World War Two, or so our friendly guide told us. The osuary that lay in front of us was moving testimony to those who certainly lived in a different time to ours.
Our next village stop on the edge of the lake was also time for lunch, so the local women of the village had been busy cooking river prawns, Sago, Sago Palm bugs, Pumikin kourou, Kaukau and smoked fish. Within Lake Kutubu, there are some 11 species of fish that are found no where else on the planet. One of them tasted ok.
And I was a big fan of the Sago Palm Bug. I ate more than my fair share.
After a sumptuous PNG style banquet we wandered around the local Orchid and Butterfly gardens of which the Orchids were gorgeously maintained and spectatcular.
And then we watched a bit of village Basketball, boarded our boat and headed off home.