Day One: The SEA People Diaries | By Greg Johannes.
Temptation from a ‘caviar tiramisu’ flavoured donut, and a departure day book ended by bad weather and rough seas… (a good thing Greg didn’t eat that donut!!).  

I fluke the airport chemist’s last box of antimalarials and I’m off. It takes a long time to get to West Papua – about 20 hours – and most people don’t know where it is. I ask them to imagine the top left corner of the island that is home to PNG and tell them I’ll be somewhere in the ocean around there.

My first trip into town for years brings the stares and shy smiles that go with being a tall, bald, skinny white guy in a place that doesn’t see many. Three school girls come up to me in a supermarket and introduce themselves. They ask me a few questions in halting English and then each ‘high-5’s me before they walk away giggling and happy.

The day finishes with a chicken noodle dinner cooked by a bunch of local women who run a stand by the roadside. The food is so good, and the women are kind and funny. They pour bowls of water over my hands as I wash them.

I go to bed pleased that I resisted the dessert temptation of a ‘caviar tiramisu’ flavoured donut I saw earlier in the day.

Source: LinkedIn | Greg Johannes
Photo: Greg Johannes

Day Two: The SEA People Diaries | By Greg Johannes.  

Our 3am channel crossing starts poorly. As the boat slips out of the inlet we’re caught by the cross wind and waves but we realise power isn’t getting to the right engine. We can’t turn and we’re in danger of being smashed up on the sea wall.

Thankfully we have an amazing captain. Yos is a 22-year old from a nearby island and I can hear her and Arnaud yelling guidance in the dark. There is no panic and eventually she steers us back into still water. The boat is anchored and fixed and by 5am we’re off again into an overcast sky and choppy seas.

Our destination is a village I’ve been to twice before. A place of passing dugongs and Bryde’s whales, of birds of paradise and of nesting leatherbacks. I have a Papuan friend there who messages me in Bahasa from time to time and we have warm but clunky Google-translate conversations.

We arrive at the same time as a big tropical squall. The boat pitches and yaws in the wind and the rain and the waves that spring from nowhere. For the second time today I make a mental note of my passport’s location in case I need to grab it in a hurry, but the storm passes as quickly as it arrives.

Source: LinkedIn | Greg Johannes
Photo: Greg Johannes

Past Entries: 

About The Author: Greg Johannes, Ambassador  – The SEA People.  Greg spent 2 weeks aboard the Galaxea with us and documented his experience in his daily entries into ‘The SEA People Diaries’. 

Day Zero – Read here