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Papua New Guinea: Okaiboma

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Okaiboma > Papua New Guinea > Oceania

[Visited: June 2016]

After visiting Kaibola in the north, I have planned to stay overnight in Okaiboma, too. But things turn out differently: no PMVs available, and then I get stuck in the yam harvest near Kaibola. Coming back to Station is easier than expected, and after a lunch I am on my way to Okaiboma for the afternoon. When asked, people tell me it is a short distance away, so I set off walking fast in the given direction. People on the way confirm it is "not far". The track I am following takes me through flat lands used for agriculture, and after a while, I am completely alone. When I finally meet a guy on a bicycle, he tells me that Okaiboma is still a long way to go, so I speed up even more. Two PMVs pass in the wrong direction, and I wonder how much time I will have once in the village.

Picture of Okaiboma (Papua New Guinea): Piles of yams waiting to be put into yam houses during special festivities

When I come across fields where people are carrying yams in their self-made bags, I know I am approaching a village. Then, there are houses, and a big board welcoming me to Okaiboma. Men are gathered in a meeting, and send a kid to ask me where I am going. I am looking for Tom, I say, and the kid asks me to follow him - with some of his friends. Women are playing netball on a field, and after having seen several other villages on this Island of Love, I get a different feeling here - again. Okaiboma turns out to be much bigger than I thought, and consists of various clusters of huts, small communities within the larger conglomeration. Tom turns out to be on the beach, so I ask my young friends to take me there - and we meet half way. It seems he has received word that a dim-dim is looking for him. We immediately have a click, and Tom shows me his community.

Picture of Okaiboma (Papua New Guinea): Yam house in Okaiboma

Unlike the north, the yam harvest here is almost completely finished, and yams are piled up neatly in the shape of pyramids. This meticulous storage is temporary though: the yam ceremonies are still to take place, in which the yams will officially enter the village, and be stored in the narrow yam houses. Most of those houses still have to be built, but we still see some. Only the chief of the village is allowed to paint his yam house. There are separate houses for the seedlings that will be used to plant the yams for the harvest of the following year. We walk to the beach, where we find a traditional canoe with bright colours. From here, several of the other Trobriand Islands can be seen. Back in the village, we sit down to watch a game of soccer on the big field. We chat until it is dark, have papaya and a coconut, and while waiting for a PMV to take me back to Station, I buy some small wooden carvings. When I jump into the back of a small truck, sitting with cheerful guys under a starry night, a deep sense of regret sinks down: I should have come to Okaiboma directly, and stayed several days. One more reason to come back to Kiriwina.

Picture of Okaiboma (Papua New Guinea): Detail of a traditional canoe on the beach of Okaiboma
Picture of Okaiboma (Papua New Guinea): Pyramid-shaped pile of yams
Picture of Okaiboma (Papua New Guinea): Man in red shirt posing with traditional huts in Okaiboma

Around the World in 80 Clicks

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