Day 11 - 12: Coffee drinking cockroaches, and farewells

So as I sit typing this in Jackson airport, in Port Moresby, I get a chance to review the last couple of weeks. I was offered an invitation to extend my trip and come down to Goroka for the Goroka show on the weekend (now that would be a good photo opportunity), but family and other commitments intervene. Maybe next year.

The training course seems to have gone well, and with some more practice and experimenting, I think the guys would be able to sit the Red Hat exam and get a real Linux certification. Maybe I should do that one day as well.

More importantly, they have now got a significant boost in installing and maintaining Linux, something that is very relevant and useful in their environment. I can see that they now will have lots of fun building web servers, home pages, file servers etc. And in doing the course, we had lots of fun getting things to work, like the satellite dish, and played with various bits of networking etc.

I've learnt a lot about the particular problems here relating to communications and computers, and remote communities. I am very interested in how appropriate technology can be used to solve the communication problems. I am very impressed with how much can be achieved with a simple solar powered radio and a cheap computer (email via radio is an amazing thing). Not everyone can afford a satellite dish. In fact, it's often not a question of cost, but of regulatory restrictions. It will be very interesting to see how things change when telecom degulation occurs next year (supposedly).

I'll miss some things, like the coffee. Even the cockroaches love the coffee. I'm told this is a relatively common sight. I am completely mystified as to how he got in there. Unless it was there when I put the lid on, and drank the coffee. Hmm...

I won't miss the roads, or rather what passes for them. In some places they eventually just remove the bitumen altogether, rather than maintaining it, because a tar road has sharper edges on the potholes. My observation is that the dirt roads have deeper potholes, but roads that aren't a 4WD obstacle course are the best of all. In this photo, the locals have actually named this particular pothole, after a nearby lake (being a lake that is very deep, and never dries up).

I'm looking forward to living in a house again that doesn't have razor wire around it. I had no trouble at all anywhere in PNG, but I heard enough stories to realise that the razor wire isn't there for decoration. Strangely enough, the two times that I felt most insecure were when I ran the gauntlet in Port Moresby, walking the short distance between the International and Domestic terminals. Today wasn't so bad, since lots of security seemed to be around, but the first day I arrived, I had a trolley with a computer on it, and there were a lot of nationals just hanging around outside, just sizing you up and pricing your watch and luggage to see if it was worth doing anything about it. Perhaps they were just there to see all their `one-talks' off on the plane. I don't know, and I didn't ask.
Most of the security precautions in Hagen are just that, precautions, but the MAF airport road curfew of 8:30pm isn't there just to make sure you have an early night. Anyway, this was just something you got used it (I imagine this would be similar to how it is in South Africa).

On the whole, an excellent and positive experience, and I've made a lot of new friends, and hopefully made a contribution. But all good things must come to an end. I'm looking forward to getting home and seeing my family. Who knows, perhaps this won't be a once off event, but a regular trip. Now that would be really cool...