I’ve only had a glimpse in, but Papua New Guinea seems like an amazing country. It is overwhelming rural and Port Moresby felt more like a town than the capital of the country with 5.8 million people divided between the mountainous highlands, coastal areas, and islands. Over 850 indigenous languages are spoken, while Pidgin English or “Tok Pisin” is principal unifying language. Trying to follow Pidgin is a lot of fun. Woman is “meri” so my name came in for some humourous name-calling (like “razor meri” or “sharp/fine woman.”

Since independence in 1975 from its Australian administrators, the government has struggled to govern under the Westminster-style parliamentary system. Infrastructure is minimal. Airplanes are the only means to get around most parts of the country and the flights aren’t cheap (US$500+). Corruption is rampant and crime serious. Tribal warfare continues in the highlands and conflicts have arisen over foreign exploitation of the country’s vast oil, gas, and mineral reserves. During the week I read articles in the national Post-Courier newspaper with headlines such as: “gang taunts cops as they rape woman” and “infant devoured by dogs” and “terror on Mt. Hagen streets.”

Just one national TV station, EM TV, screening news at 6pm and music videos from around the Pacific as well as copious amounts of cricket. One of the biggest stories that week was the cancellation of an A$8 billion gas pipeline from the southern highlands down to Queensland.