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A village, an anthropologist, two goats and a meal...

A snapshot of village life in Hoploi, Papua New Guinea

by Oliver Kortendick

We are in Hoploi, a small village near Vanimo, in the Sandaun Province of Papua New Guinea. It is hot, sticky and wet. We, that are Baulon Maibala, Jack Beu, Iain Leklek, Alois Kuaso, Stanley Jotham and I. During the last four weeks we lived in Hoploi (well, it’s actual name is not Hoploi, but something else, but that does not matter...), and collected data for the Knowledge Transmission and Political Communication Project.


Village

A view on one of the hamlets.

Border

Excursion to the indonesian border.


It is Wednesday, June 26th 1996. The work is finished and we are waiting to return to Port Moresby on next Tuesday. Not much to do, everyone is exhausted by the previous work and the heat. The villagers enjoyed our stay, for it brought some interesting changes of the normal village routine, which is not exactly exciting if you ask me! Anyway, what happened is this: Somebody, I think it was John (he loves betel nuts and always carries a certain supply with him, see that yellow sack?), has the idea of organising a feast and have a farewell party on the last weekend.

Betel An exciting idea it seems to everybody, old and young. Food is important in this part of Papua New Guinea, having it, sharing it, preparing it together. Some of the food like potatoes, taro, sago and others are grown in and around the village. Other food, especially meat, is difficult to obtain. Basically one has two options: go to the forest and hunt for a pig, or buy canned meat or fish. Hunting is not easy and certainly not an everyday option. To get a pig, you need a group of men, and at least a day or two and good luck. Difficult to catch one in those forests. And they can be pretty aggressive, so it is dangerous as well. It is kind of expensive also, for you have to spent a lot of time on making arrows and spears which you easily loose or spoil during the hunt. Some have guns, but the ammunition is expensive and very little money is flowing around in this area.

So the other option, to buy canned food is also not easy, so that meat (thus protein) is not an everyday diet!


Bridge

Rain can cause severe road damage.

Fishing gear

Fishing is not an option.


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Disclaimer: All rights reserved. Copyright Oliver Kortendick. KTAPC is sponsored by APFT.