The Quest for Wakonai!
part 18 of Sylvain's adventures in Papua New Guinea
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Thursday, 16th October.
Before leaving to study the C. wakonai I take some pictures at home.
The pig in his favorite spot.
A little girl of the household....and with her mother.
The Citrus wakonai in the centre of the village.
The same with another camera. The white balance is better.
Height approximately 3 m.
Flower just before opening.
Petals removed. The 20 stamens are unjoined.
The filaments are cylindrical. The upper parts of the stamens are bent to form a Z-shape.
The pollen on sticky lines clearly shows the pentameric structure of stigma.
Together with Dominic, Chris's younger brother, we go to the school to meet the teacher. He is next to the palm.
We walk downhill to the east to reach the second C. wakonai in the village.
Kenegabu Artson is now a teacher at the Galuwata Elementary School in Wakonai.
Kenegabu was the second guide who helped Malcolm Smith and Lionel Smith to find C. wakonai in September 2000. He is the one on the left in this original photo.
He now has a ten-year-old son, and as I had this photo on my smartphone, he was very proud to be shown what he looked like fourteen years earlier when he had a beard!
The stamens become white at the end of flowering.
A well-formed pistil. Note the bumpy surface of the ovary and the near absence of any style. The length of the style is one of main causes of infertility. It is possible that the very short style creates an ability to hybridise easily.
Botanical terms used to describe parts of a flower.
Dominic holding a branch of Citrus wakonai.
Any photo can be enlarged if you click on it!
While returning to the house I take some pictures in the village.
In the morning, we learned that the young people who went to look for fruits on the mountain have not found any. The plants were all in bloom. Kenegabu explains that they cannot have gone to the right place in half a day, as it takes a whole day to get there. They went to a nearby hill that has some plants but not in the original habitat of wet rainforest. He would have offered to go to the mountains himself to look for fruits but, being a teacher, he is only free on weekends. Dominic proposes to go tomorrow. For a good quarter of an hour, Kenegabu explains to Dominic how to find the place where C. wakonai is located.
I'm going back to the village to haggle over the contract because there aren't any seeds. The village chief is absent, so I discuss it with the head of the census. 200K was for seeds and the study of the plant. I say that, as I have no seeds, I want to pay only 100K. He kindly accepts and takes the 100K. My calculation is simple: I still have 100K; it costs 80K to go to East Cape and 7K for the PMV to get to Alotau. This leaves me 13 K, approximately 4 €uro.
So I decided to go shopping for my hosts. The only shop in the area is located near the Vivigani-Bolubolu track. I cannot buy much but the trader I got on with on the boat gave me some discounts ... A small bottle of oil, rice and some other trifles. The gesture is only symbolic. Everywhere else I've been, I've bought some useful things for my hosts - it is the first time I cannot do so. I returned after dark, but this time I have not forgotten my headlamp.
Friday, 17th October.
Dominic leaves for the mountain. The Citrus wakonai are mainly in the red circle in the next picture. He will send on the fruits either to Bolubolu or to Alotau.
I set off at dawn to Vivigani to take the dinghy to leave. The dinghy and its pilot are waiting for me on the beach but no-one else is there. The other passengers didn't turn up. Trip cancelled. I go back to Wakonai to wait for Dominic.
As I sat on the platform with a mango in one hand and my knife in the other, I plant the knife in my right calf. It's time to leave this place!
The two mountains are 2500m and 2300m high.
In the evening, the village headman arrives and begins yelling at me. He wants his 200 kinas and says that the man in charge of the census did not have the right to accept the new arrangement. He threatens to take me to the police commisioner in Bolubolu. I try to explain to him that I had no longer had 200k. He gets even more angry and accuses my host of charging me for the accommodation and keeping the money for himself. This begins to annoy me. I explain that because of him I was only able to spend 13K for my hosts and that you can't call that much of a profit! He calls me a liar. My host says that it is the truth. The villagers, who begin to gather around us, start to take my side against the chief. They say that Chris does not lie because he is a good Christian (every morning and evening I heard him say his prayers). Feeling the atmosphere changing, the leader leaves, saying that tomorrow morning he will come to apologize. Why tomorrow? I do not understand.
In the night Dominic returned from the mountain. He did not find any fruits. The trees were all in flower.
Saturday, 18th October.
In the morning I hurt my left foot on a piece of coconut that was lying in the grass. It is a curse!
The village headman arrives with the census book manager. The headman doesn't apologise at all, and the census manager - this is a young man who until now was friendly - starts calling me all the names under the sun, but finally finishes by saying they accept the deal! His statements sounded false, as if he was playing a game. I think he did it so as not to lose face with the village chief. Anyway, one thing I know is that I must leave this place as soon as possible. This afternoon a 4x4 should come from Bolubolu to re-supply food for a training course for new primary school teachers in the region. I'm going to wait and try to leave with them. In the driveway ?? I got on with and ate together with the Inspector General in charge of the course. We spent an hour talking about teaching and education.
For this trip, I had brought stocks of ballpoint pens, razors and analgesics - that's what is in high demand in Africa. Here, I found that there is very little demand for painkillers because of the good provision of primary medicine. So, given the reception in the village, I had decided that I wouldn't give anything. But later I thought that children were not responsible for the stupidity of their parents and so I gave pens for the school and razors to those who had been friendly.
I realized that my anti-mosquito hammock had disappeared yesterday. It really is time to go.
Today is market day. It distracted me a little. It takes place under the mango grove at the end of the Vivigani runway.
I take pictures of the family and the house, and I wait for the pickup. When it comes, it is full, but I beg them to take me. I ride between the bunches of bananas and other passengers. A few words of farewell to my host family and I (finally) leave. A last look at the mountains.
And so to Bolubolu.
I spend the rest of the day in the rain waiting for an opportunity to get transport to Alotau.
At night I walk away from the people and houses and I settle for the night under a tree in the tall grass behind the sports field.