The driver drove us to a place near the lake, we walked and slipped through a small muddy trail and finally a spectacular view opened up in front of us.
To access the lake, we noticed that we had to pass through a garden which seemed to belong to the nearby living compound. To ask for permission to pass, our driver shouted and encouraged the people in the compound to come out. A minute later, a boy and a woman appeared. They seemed surprised of seeing a group of “the white doctors” suddenly standing on their land and they turned around to call for the rest of the family members to come and see the novelty! We asked if we could pass through their land to go down to the lake and the family happily agreed. We were taken through their compound and their garden, we shook hands with family members from small baby boys to grandmothers. To go down to the lake, we had to climb down a quite slippery, practically vertical hillside. Luckily we were escorted (and supported!) by a lady from the house. The lake was beautiful. On its surface we saw some sort of floating islands; thick, dense vegetation that formed a swinging carpet on the surface of the lake. Our guide jumped on top of a few logs and over to the floating island. Then she invited our technical logistician Andy to follow. Though not quite as gracefully as the guide, Andy managed to jump over to the island with most of his clothes dry.
When we were heading back up, a heavy rain started. The kind family members quickly ran down the hill with umbrellas and helped us climb up the hill back to the compound. Because of the rain, the slippery, muddy hill was even more slippery than before. I tried to balance with my water bottle and my umbrella, my shoes buried in mud, desperately tensing my muscles so that I would not slide down the hill. My sunglasses fell down on my face from my forehead and I was probably not the most elegant woman that ever set foot on that land. When I finally managed to get up the hill and to the compound, I saw my project coordinator (who had wisely skipped climbing muddy hills and instead socialized with the family under a rain shelter). She informed me that the owner of the compound happened to be a lady who we are planning collaboration with. We had also planned on visiting this lady’s office in the near future, and it so happened that her office was situated in the compound. We had a nice talk with the lady and her family, and when we were leaving they offered us an abundance of vegetables and fruits. Much appreciated!
So, our little trip to the lake came to be so much more. In Papua New Guinea you never know what is around the corner…