Saturday, August 22, 2015


Our trip was arranged around this big 2 day event, which unfortunately, Judy missed the first day being sick from the food. We had flown back from Wewak to Pt. Moresby, and then up to Mt. Hagen where we were with a different tour group: Paiya Tours, owned by Pym Mamindi. I saw all these photographers with very long, telephoto lenses and feared I wasn't going to be able to get close to the performers. Someone also told me there would be one hundred thousand people there. We were also cautioned about the danger of inter-tribal violence and drunkenness. None of which proved to be true. The performers spent about three hours putting on their face paint (and in some cases painting their entire body), and also composing the feathers on their headdresses. In some cases that included whole, stuffed parrots or complete bird wings. They were often head bands of green, iridescent beetles; and elaborate shell breast plates.

 After putting on all their face paint and costumes the various groups would march, dance and sing their way into the football sized arena. They would continue to dance and sing, along with all the other groups - each singing their own songs. Combined with an announcer on a too-loud PA system, there was a cacophony of sound; combined with a profusion of colors. The tourists, most of whom were photographers, were a few hundred and at times I faced a wall of them; but mostly could avoid them. I could also get right inside of groups dancing in a circle, or right next to a line of dancers.