It was a bad night for sleep.

It’s good to get out of Port Moronsby to refresh your memory of the PNG outside of the gritty shitty mini-metropolis. Goroka is a great place for revitalising whatever one loves about PNG. Cool, green, whiskey-drinking weather rather than gin-soaked baking heat. Bananas grow alongside conifers and eucalypts, it is like some melange of Australian high country and European lower alps with a generous dose of the tropics. The sun still burns but the shade is cool and even cold – bring your hoodie. Also, pigs frolic in the park and snuffle around in the grass looking for worms. The last time I was here I got a photo of one specimen heaving its way though a mound of garbage (sadly Goroka does not escape this ubiquitous PNG landscape feature), but I didn’t take many as I was getting looks from people that seemed a tad displeased – like what the HELL are you doing taking pictures of OUR RUBBISH HEAP?

Anyway, Goroka. The big disadvantage I have with travelling is sleep. I usually take one or two nights to learn how to sleep properly in a new place. Last night’s efforts were not assisted by the two security men who kept their conversations going all night, and the other guest who somewhere had the TV going until well past 2 am. And of course there was a bloody dog, the kind who routinely starts up some outraged carry-on at the hint of anyone walking around during suspicious hours. Wuff wuff wuff, good dog – but did anyone tell this canine crusader that this in PNG and that there’s ALWAYS going to be people strolling around without purpose at any god forsaken hour? Save your noise for when there’s some serious mauling to be done, please, like when a raskol tries to steal the pig or something.

Sleep came eventually in dribbles, and you take what you can get because its still better than nothing. The intermittent disturbances kept me fitful and edgy, but there was nothing to be done about it outside of a ludicrous bosman hissy fit, which is never a good look at 3 am, especially as this is a good time to forget one sleeps with nothing on.

At one stage I had managed to coax a nice stint of sleep from the reluctant night, only to be shaken awake. Strangely there was nobody in the room to shake me. The room itself was shaking – short rapid one-two-one-twos, as if the building was sitting on a big sieve and some godly hand was trying to shake the smaller particles down – particles like me. A generator, I thought. Some useless goon is starting the biggest generator in the world under my room, the bastard. We had been witness to a blackout in town earlier, which had been amusing – the tinny music from the shops had stopped, the noise of power tools was abruptly stilled, the lights had just died. I figured the same had happened in the middle of the night and the generator was bucking and kicking into life. Pretty quiet for a generator though. Indeed the only noise was the room itself, rattling like a wooden box full of bones. It only went on for ten seconds or so and then it was over. Mercifully sleep came again, swiftly and without argument.

So that was how I lost my seismic virginity, and didn’t even know it at the time. First time for everything, and now thanks to PNG I have enjoyed my first volcanic belching and been wobbled through my first earthquake. I know there’s plenty of disastrous stories involving these strange events but I’m happy enough keeping mine in the dumb and harmless category. Not so hard core but hey, its GOOD to have a guest house to go back to this evening. Can’t imagine my sleep this evening would be too great curled up on top of a pile of splinters and rubble after all.

5 Responses to “Guria!”

  1. 1 Robert October 8, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    I remember feeling my 1st earthquake in Lae back in mid 2005. Must admit they make me nervous. Didn’t feel the one in Goromka early this morning – then again my own snoring doesn’t even wake me!!


  2. 2 CRANKY October 8, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    For technicality’s sake the ‘Not So Great Quake of Goroka 2009’ occurred on the night of the 6th/7th, not in the morning of the 8th… I slept quite well last night, it helped that there wasn’t another guria.

  3. 3 Gem October 11, 2009 at 10:58 am

    This is my favourite line; ‘At one stage I had managed to coax a nice stint of sleep from the reluctant night’.

  4. 4 Liam October 12, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    Hi there Georgie boy,

    A non Guria related post but thought I might run this one past you to see whether you blink.

    Am Surprised that it hasn’t already made it on the Ol’ Olgeta already …

    “Four women, who wish to remain nameless, said their best undergarments were stolen from luggage when travelling on domestic flights leaving the capital Port Moresby…

    One tourist on a brief stay in PNG said her bag’s lock was broken and the only item missing were g-strings and lace hipster briefs.”

    Their ‘best’ undergarments?

    Wondering whether you would care to make comment?

  5. 5 Steve Bennett March 31, 2010 at 8:28 am

    I’m sadly disappointed that the only Gurias I experienced in PNG were the big blue feathered type and the Rugby League playing type from Rabaul. No rattling ground shaking versions 😦

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