Second Thoughts on Papua New Guinea

I was thinking about my last post from PNG and the crime and the violence that was reported and all the feeling of being cooped up inside.

On my way out of town, I caught a ride with a driver from the Highlands.  I think he heard my frustration when he asked what I thought about Port Moresby and I told him I thought the Crowne Plaza was a nice.  

He started pointing out sights on our way to the airport.  The seaport that was in the process of being moved down the beach a ways to make room for some waterfront development.  A new stadium being built for the South Pacific games coming next year.  He mentioned that there is actually an economic boom going on in PNG right now.  Lots a lots of people coming in and scooping up the resources and land, etc.  So, some people are getting pretty rich, but thus far it’s not really trickled down.  

My driver was from the Eastern Highlands and confirmed there aren’t any roads.  He said that most of the education opportunities are for people on the coast.  The people of the hills are at an educational disadvantage.  He said the ground and climate in the hills is perfect for growing things and there is a surplus of fruits and vegetables.  But, with no roads, products really can’t get down to where most of the people are, so it rots up there.  

It got me thinking that may there is such a grab for pigs and women, because that is all there is.  I wonder if the highland people would be so angry if they could just sell their broccoli?  I wonder if the coastal people would be less angry if they ate more vegetables?  I wonder if everyone would be more content if they realized some of the benefits from their resource rich country.

At the airport, I met some lovely shopkeepers who didn’t hack at me with knives or rob me.  They were inquisitive and helpful and happy to sell me an overpriced Coca-Cola.  When I go back I’m going back with an open mind.

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