The plane smelt of farts. It was filled with well-muscled white men, and a gorgeous couple with diplomatic passports. Minerals and Australian diplomats. Welcome to Papua New Guinea. In my safety briefing I was told, “we’re going at one car-jacking a day”.
So I’m sitting in my room on the seventh floor of the hotel. Inside the fences. A personal GPS locator with a panic button blinking. Struggling with data. Avoiding writing presentations. Staring our the window as the sunset flushes colours across the mountains east of town. Looking down at the city, wishing it was Honiara, where I could walk about during the day. Wishing I knew the place better, so I could work out my odds. Wanting to say sorry to everyone for being on the comfortable side of those fences. Eager not to catch scabies from the bedsheets, like one of my colleagues. Awkwardly trying to be friendly and polite. Trying not to be an arrogant outsider. Stumbling because I’m self-concious, and because trying not to be something isn’t what we were designed for.
The soft smoke of every third world city is adding haze to dusk, and below the road is losing its Jeeps. The vendors have packed up their cardboard and beads, and headed home. Wishing I knew more. Lonely. And happy in the blurry view.