The sun was just rising over the Pacific when we took off from Port Moresby on our way to Madang. Our small, propeller-driven aircraft made the 300-mile-trip in just over an hour. We landed in Madang (pictured above) on a beautiful morning. As we stepped off the plane onto the tarmac we were met by a swift, salty breeze coming off the sea. It was just cooler than warm and carried with it smells of tropical plants and human sweat.
A quick walk across the tarmac led us to a small one-story building. We walked down the hall with the hand-painted sign which read: “Arrivals only.” At least it was in English. The hall led us to an open courtyard which bordered the tarmac. Airport staff unloaded luggage onto a crude wooden table, from which people could take their bags and have the security guard check it against their luggage tags. It was a simple and efficient process… even for our team with our 46 checked items (from carseats to massive duffle bags).
We were met at the airport by long-time Papua New Guinea missionaries, the Patricks. They helped us load our team and luggage into a van and a pickup truck. Well, almost. It took two trips to get all of us. Matt and I stayed behind with the luggage while the rest of team went ahead to get the youngest down for naps. By the time Joe Patrick returned to pick us up it had gotten hot. The sun on the equator is especially strong and it was baking the tin roof above the small courtyard at the airport. As we loading the final bags into the back of the truck I could feel the sun baking my arms and neck. My skin stung from the toxic mix of sunscreen, sweat, and bug repellent.
The drive was quick and the scenery beautiful. Except for the fact that Madang cannot manage its growing rubbish problem, it really is a gorgeous, tropical town. We arrived at our flat on Karua Street. Our home is a two-story building with the Dodds in the upstairs flat and ours below. The first thing I noticed when I walked into our new home was the floor. It is hard to describe because of the variety of ways it attempts to cover the concrete foundation. The main room is linoleum tile. The entry way into the master room is white tile with the faintest yellow stain (like teeth that have enjoyed years of coffee). The mater bedroom itself is covered in 2-square-inch baby blue tiles. But now it gets exciting. As you enter the kids room there is a stretch of unfinished concrete. Then the baby blue tiles show up again. However, halfway through the room the tile stops and the concrete floor slopes up a bit. After it levels off the tile starts up again, but this time the tile is 1-square-inch navy blue squares. Where did they get this tile, you might ask. My guess is it was left over from the kitchen and bathroom. While it is not the wonderful wood flooring that the Dodds enjoy upstairs, our floor does remain cool throughout the day, which is a welcome feature in this muggy climate.
Besides having a mosaic for a floor, we have a small kitchen complete with a new gas stove and refrigerator. We have running water, which is a mix of water from a rain collection tank and city water. Believe it or not, the water is great to drink straight from the tap!
The furniture throughout the house is made of beautiful wood. The tables, chairs, beds, and couches are all simple, but very sturdy. The boys have a bunkbed in their room that is so tall and forbidding that I do not think I will ever let one of them sleep on top (especially since the floor is concrete). Thankfully, Oliver has his own crib, so Jude can sleep on the lower bunk much closer to the ground.
After unpacking all our bags, we took a trip with the whole team into town. We passed by the crowded beaches on our drive. The shore is mostly a coral coastline, and the locals love to jump off the reefs into the crystal clear water below.
In town, we shopped at a grocery store called “Andersons.” You can buy just about anything you can in the states (within reason), but it’s more than double the price. Two things we bought at the store are not something you normally buy in the states: a malaria test kit and a round of malaria meds. Lord-willing, we will not be needing these anytime soon. Our total bill for the first round of groceries was 403 Kina (which is about $180).
Not all food is expensive though. We went to market just down the street from our home and bought a bag of sweet potatoes, a large pineapple, two mangos, a lime, two coconuts, some greens, and a large butternut squash for 12.50 Kina (less than $6)!
Our day ended at the Patricks house. They fed us delicious spaghetti, broccoli, carrots, and a massive fruit salad. The Patrick’s house faces the Pacific, so as we ate our scrumptious feast, we sat and watched a giant thunderstorm storm roll in. The rain brought cool winds, which chased away the sticky heat. We even had to use our blankets as we went to bed. We finally fell asleep to the sound of flying foxes (bats) calling to one another from the treetops.