Saturday, April 5, 2008

Madang to Ukarumpa

Sunday, April 6, 08
With Bill feeling better, we collect our things and head into Madang for some fuel and leave at 9:30. At the Mobil station, we are informed that our riding should be in good weather. However, last night it rained through the section of hills between Madang and the Ramu Valley (I have been calling it the Markham Valley. Markham Valley is toward Lae). That is the area we have been worried about. Rain has made the puddles wider and the mud deeper. All goes well till we descend a steep hill and when turning at the bottom see 10 PMVs bogged on the hill, all stuck where they have tried to climb or descend. Shifting down, best option is simply to stay in the ruts since an attempt to find high ground brings a slippery splat into the ruts anyway, we both spin, sputter, and slosh through. A half km past, Bill asks if I want to return for a photo. Let's just remember it as it is! No rascals, they usually wait at the large and expansive mud holes for a must slow down, we make good time and arrive at the mid-point, in the flat of the Ramu Valley, for fuel and a flour fish and coke - again, yum. Bill calls home and asks about any troubles. He returns to say, "The natives are restless!" There has been trouble with the local two clans which have been fighting - arrows flying last night till the drenching rain sent them home. One clan has blocked the second bridge, there are three, between Kainantu (15km from Ukarumpa) and Ukarumpa. There's not much to do till we arrive and see it for ourselves. We arrive Kainantu and top out the tanks. Now to see about the bridge. First bridge is passed, no worries. Then, the second bridge is approached. No one steps out, and we cross rapidly. I give a whoop on the other side. We're home free! Two kms out of Ukarumpa, I see 6 boys, aged 8-10, on the left side of the road stretching bows equipped with arrows. As Bill passes, they make motions of shooting the arrows, but don't. I approach. The oldest boy suddenly steps forward, from 15 ft, and lets fly an arrow which strikes me in my left calf. Lucky shot! I look down, then back up at the hard, left, downhill curve. Too late, I turn the wheel left and the back tire slides off the road, my knee hitting the edge of the pavement. Bill sees me go down and returns. Surprised by a PMV coming up from behind, he falls in the lane. The PMV asks if we need help? No! With a piercing look, Bill rights his bike, mine also is righted by now, and hurries up to find the boys. Only their backsides can be seen as they disappear down the hill. We continue on to where Sam's village turns off, 1 km further on, and there tell our story of the humbug (PNG for "good for nothing") boys. My knee is scraped and my pants are ripped in two places. Martha is washing everything and will attempt some repairs. After a shower, knee and shin repair, we laugh about the story I will tell when I get home. There must have been 100 painted clansmen. I dodge, I weave, one arrow takes me down. Bill rides to the rescue on "a horse with no name". Well, it could have been worse. Those boys, and the village will know who they are, will most likely be caned. I may ask to administer a few of the swats myself.
Medang pictures:

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