Tuesday, September 23.
When I wake up, I go to wash in the Mia River, do my laundry and have my breakfast. But after two minutes, there are thirty men and boys who stare at me from 5 metres away and harass me with questions ... It's like being in India! I had decided to have a quiet morning - that is ruined. I kindly explained to them that I want to have a peaceful hour, and then I will go to the village (Waput) and answer all their questions. But it was impossible to make them leave. Some pretend to leave, but they hide in the bushes to watch me.
I was pretty upset.
The Mia River
Breakfast. Coconut and cocoa pod.
I go to the village and I start to hitchhike to Lae because I did not want to stay there any longer. But I bump into the village chief and some women. He asks me what's going on to make me to want to leave, so I told him the previous events, and I turn to the women and ask "Would you like a troop of men look at you when you go to wash in the river?" There was a unanimous 'NO'. There, I had won.
The chief apologizes and explains that they were a bunch of idiots. And invites me to stay. We moved to a hut near the road and I answer all their questions. I explained that I seek a wild citrus (bus muli pronounced bousse mouli) but I have no idea what it is or where it is. Half the village was by now all around us and say they have never seen it. Then the chief said that young people do not dare go into the forest and only the old people know about it. He adds "I know the only citrus fruit that exists in our region". I ask him to take me there. It is a nice little walk. The citrus is just at the foot of the slope.
We reach the place. He shows me a tree and when I look up I know exactly what it is - Citrus macroptera. The leaves cannot be mistaken for anything else. So now it is three citrus found, out of the five being sought!!
The head of the village at the foot of macroptera. I estimate the height of the tree to be 12 meters.
A young man climbs the tree to bring branches and fruits. There are no flowers. The leaves are 7-8 cm wide and 25 cm long. Here is a branch planted in the ground to take pictures in the sun.
Three beautiful fruits. Contrary to what is often said, the fruit is very juicy. The seeds are about 2 inches long and bear the marks of the vesicles.
We move on to the tasting. Everyone wants to try.
The zest is not unpleasant. Albedo is tasteless, no trace of bitterness. Everyone finds the pulp good except me. The pulp is very juicy, acid with a lemony taste and a slight unpleasant aftertaste but no bitterness. The descriptions found on the internet are very contradictory, but there I am in front of a citrus fruit that does not really match any of the descriptions !?
The leader assigns me a hut, and I decided to celebrate the citrus find with a beer. You have to go to the next village for that. Everyone tells me I should not go alone because people from the other village are dangerous. I do go alone. Over there everyone is very nice. I find my beer and when I start to wait for a PMV to return to Waput, they tell me they will accompany me because the people of Waput are dangerous! I go back by myself. The scenario is typical of the region. For them, all others are dangerous.
The evening is passed with discussions with the young people of the village. The village teacher is cultivated, open-minded and we can talk about everything.
Wednesday, 24th September
They bring me an overripe fruit Clymenia polyandra. Its colour is distinctly orange, skin and pulp. The taste is past its best.
This fruit contained 24 seeds. In five fruits there were 3, 4, 12, 7 and 24 seeds. Average of 10 seeds per fruit. The way the seeds are attached is very distinctive.
The fruit peeled easily and the segments separated by themselves.
Photo taken with another camera. The colour is closer to the actual colour. You can see the hard drive, the smartphone and USB battery. Note the theme of oilcloth.
Perhaps a reference to Sylvain's interest in 'Le paramoteur'!
The underside of a hut is transformed into a henhouse but the hens are pigeons.
The teacher at home with her family.
The right-hand side of the hut, with her grandparents.
A ray of sunshine on the floor of my hut.
I spent the rest of the day visiting the village.
page created 19th December 2014
The Quest for Wakonai!
part 12 of Sylvain's adventures in Papua New Guinea
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