Cannibal Sleepover

Villages along the Karawari River

(Andrew) I was not looking forward to this village stay even though Papua New Guinean people are very friendly.

We left our lodge on the Karawari River and boarded a very long motorized dug out canoe. We passed many small villages and I hoped that none were ours because I was looking for the 5-star hut and all of them were mud huts on stilts. I had to accept my fate though; it would be one of them. We waved to the little boys and girls on the river banks, and they screamed back to us as loudly as they could. We stopped at a camp where they produce sego, which is their staple food, to have some lunch. When we reached our village, which is a very lengthy village, several kids ran along the shore shrieking. The moment the pack reached another house, 4 more kids would join in and they would sprint with the others. As soon as we got to the biggest house, I knew it was ours. When we got out of the canoe, over 100 children were waiting for us. The kids were wearing ripped and faded clothes donated from western countries, most were not wearing shoes and many boys were naked because it was so hot in the afternoon sun. They were all laughing and screaming because we were the first white-skinned kids that they had ever seen in their entire lives.

Our hosts greet us

Then the local villagers did a sing-sing (a festive performance) for us. Many adults dressed with grass skirts and painted faces did a dance that was a victory dance for when the cannibal warriors came back with a mauled enemy body for a feast. After their dance, which included many hops and forward and backward steps, they made a fire by rubbing a fiber strip on a piece of wood. When they finally got an ember (the strip snapped 13 times) they blew on it until it was a growing flame. While trying to make the flame they sang a special fire song, though I thought they mustíve mistaken the fire song with the not fire song because they were failing miserably.

Alexandra entertaining the troops

After the dance, we walked through the village accompanied a mob of children. The kids were using leaves and their hands to make a really weird popping sound. When I tried, all I did was smack my hand really hard and listen to the kids laugh at me. My hand was red and stung after that,

but when I ultimately learned how to do it, they cheered vociferously. When we reached the school, we went inside and saw some logs as benches and a blackboard. There were many things on the blackboard including a chant that went like this, “Walking to the market what do I see? A big fat man selling a big red fish.” I always thought that they had to rhyme! When we made it back to the village with our horde of 100 kids, we were hot and exhausted. Since they didn’t speak much English, we interacted with them by teaching them the song Alouette and how to do the Hokie Pokie and the Macarena which was really amusing. As soon as it was dark, we ate dinner and went to bed after a long day.

Running to say goodbye

In the morning we left to visit another village. When we arrived, we learned that we were the only white people to ever step foot in their modest village. They also performed a dance representing a fish swimming around. It was really amazing how enthusiastic the people were when they showed us their traditional dance. They gave us some huge coconuts and we drank the cold, refreshing milk and ate the squishy meat on the inside. When we reached the lodge again, I was said to have that final village stay be done but happy that I could finally drink some cold water.

Today, these kids saw their first white kids ever. At home, we walk in the school hallways and pass a random kid and we don’t acknowledge him/her. In PNG, we walk in the remote village, and we are followed by a throng. What a contrast.

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3 Responses to “Cannibal Sleepover”

  1. Wow Andrew–great verbal visuals! Sounds like an amazing experience. Your insight into the difference between interacting with strangers in a freindly way vs. ignoring someone you don’t know is really important. What a change it would make in the world if we all tried to get to know new people!

  2. One of my favorite videos yet! (Dana, the hair looks awesome!!) The smiles on those kids faces – and on all of your own – speak volumes. Lots of firsts for them, and for you. Thanks for capturing so many to share with us. Miss you guys xo

  3. Dear Andrew,
    New Zealend looks like fun. One thing I would like to know is why you toke pics of the kids that were naked and posted it on your blog.