DEAD PIG DIARY by John Carlile


Published on

A travel documentary to the jungle and landscape beauty of Papua by a father and a daughter. Books are available only in very limited edition. Collectors Edition is only 25 editions with real leather covers, while the Regular Edition is only 100 editions. Available direct from

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

DEAD PIG DIARY by John Carlile

  1. 1. ‘The Moni Trail ’ so far... Wolambmbuta Tomosiga 2009 2007 KumbugetadiBugalaga Agisiga 2003 2006 2004 Pogapa Kobai 2005 Grasberg
  2. 2. Alex this is for you. I hope you enjoy it! , With my love, Dad Z6 7
  4. 4. PREFACEFor several years now, three friends, and experienced many things almost On our second day out of Tomosiga and kilometres, which is almost the size ofJohn Cutts, George Tahija and I have beyond belief. probably only four or five days from the Iraq. Because of its wild and difficultlived and trekked for one or two weeks finishing line in Bugalaga, I was hit by a terrain, only two million people live in It has all been worthwhile.each year with members of the Moni debilitating fever that left me helpless. Papua. That is less than one percent ofTribe in their traditional lands that John Cutts, a second-generation the population of Indonesia occupying Thanks to John and the Moni porterslie deep in the interior of Papua, the American missionary, has lived amongst over 20% of the country’s total land area. we were able to make our way back toremote easternmost frontier province the Moni for most of his life and with- Tomosiga and relative safety. For me, it From the snow capped peak of Puncakof Indonesia. out him, the treks would certainly not was a very humbling experience and a Jaya, via the equatorial Carstenz glacier have been possible. George Tahija isOur first trek back in 2003 from deep disappointment. through spectacular bare limestone karst an Indonesian businessman and aBugalaga to Pogapa was to be the start landscapes, down to rich rainforests longstanding friend and colleague with For most of the trip, in fact for all of itof a quest that we have called ‘The and lowland swamps, and finally to the a great interest in promoting Indonesia except the failed part, Alex was withMoni Trail.’ We have travelled on foot famous coral reefs of Raja Empat, the and sustaining its diverse natural envi- John and I. It was a great opportunityand sometimes on all fours along this landscape of Papua is truly wondrous. ronment to the benefit of its people. to experience the interior of Papua withroute around the tribal lands of the my daughter. That Alex was interested The Moni tribal lands lie in the remoteMoni people in a big circle, and in due Both are great travelling companions to come along and spend some quality mountainous interior of Papua which iscourse, fate permitting, we shall close and on the trail it is true to say that we time with the ‘old man’ was wonderful. the setting of ‘The Moni Trail’ and thisthe circle and end up back at the village have almost literally been to the ends Dead Pig Diary, that covers the periodof Bugalaga, where we first started. of the Earth together and in the process Papua is extraordinary. Stretching 1,200 April 15th–May 4th, 2009. have developed a strong bond with the kilometres from east to west it coversOver the past seven years, we have Moni environment and with each other. a land area of over 422,000 squarecovered around 80 percent of the Trail.Starting from Jakarta, this has taken Unfortunately, George was not alongabout 80 days. More than 100 hours on this trip in 2009, but my 20-year oldhave been spent in the air in a multitude daughter, Alex, was, and we planned toof aircraft and a variety of helicopters. complete the most rugged and remoteWe have trekked and climbed for about section of the Moni Trail from the village200 hours, equivalent to five official of Tomosiga, back to the village ofworking weeks (which for the record Bugalaga, and so complete the quest.don’t exist in Papua), and we have seen We—or more accurately, I—failed. 10 11
  5. 5. GettinGthereIt was the last stage of our journey. All in all, Jakarta is a good place toThe engines of the aircraft droned avoid. It is a vast sprawling city ofon and on, as we dozed in our seats perhaps 12 million people, pollutedon the overnight flight from Jakarta. and crowded, and has terrible trafficOutside, it was pitch black and we jams. For part of the year, the city iscould see nothing. Had we been able boiling hot and dry, and for the otherto see something, it would have been part it is wet and frequently flooded.jungle or sea, or one of the multitude Tourists, quite rightly, tend to bypassof over 17,000 islands that make up it for the delights of Bali.the tropical Indonesian archipelago. I still spend a lot of time in JakartaAlex, had wanted to see Papua, due to my work and have a flat there,and having recently finished school on the south side of the city. This isnow was her chance to do so at the where we headed after our long flightstart to her gap year or gap years. from the UK, and having spent a fewThe two of us had flown together days relaxing and getting preparedfrom our home in Jersey to Jakarta, we were ready to fly onwards.where I head up a small Australiangold exploration company.Earlier in our lives, Vivien, my wife,the three kids and I had spent nearlyten years living in Jakarta as a family.Alex, her younger brother James (whowas born in Jakarta) and her older sis-ter Kate had all gone to school there. 12
  6. 6. Wednesday, 15 April, JakartaThe day of departure was spentpacking, before taking the eveningflight from Jakarta on the Indonesiannational airline, Garuda. The flightfrom Jakarta in western Java to Papuaat the eastern extremity of Indonesiatakes around eight hours and isbroken by two stops: Makassar on theisland of Sulawesi, and the island ofBiak to the northwest of Papua. 14 15
  7. 7. Thursday, 16 April, Sentani John, a long time missionary, is one And so we spent most of the hottest biblical sense, before going off into of the few outsiders to speak the Moni part of the day at the local police the interior. It provides a fantasticJust before our journey ended, it language. The tribe, which today station to have our entry point to last meal before we change our diet togrew light as we approached Sentani, numbers around 25,000 people, live in the Moni land, Pogapa, added as an sweet potatoes and vegetables. Whenthe airport of Jayapura at 7 am. The the highlands in the interior of Papua, approved destination to our permits. we come back, the Manna Housetwo-hour time difference between which is just about as remote a place is also our first port of call for ourJakarta and Papua highlights the After a late lunch, we visited the to be found anywhere in the world. ‘first supper.’size of the country. John Cutts met ‘Sekolah Papua Harapan.’ Operated on Like me, John is in his mid-late 50s;us at the airport amidst the usual a voluntary basis by John and other Finally, after some late evening unlike me, he looks about 35. He mustPapuan hustle and bustle. Sentani is missionaries, it provides a place for packing we had a good, but very hot, be the fittest man I have ever knownnot exactly Heathrow: it was just like Moni children to come from their night’s sleep. due to working and trekking in thea shed beside the airstrip. Bags are villages to get an introduction to the interior. His hard regime has madethrown off the plane onto hand carts outside world. They learn reading, him very strong, not a body-builder’sand there is always a wild scramble muscle bound physique but just lean writing and arithmetic, and gain someas the passengers try to retrieve and without an ounce of fat. Lean, but experience of town life. Probably nonetheir belongings. definitely not mean. of them would ever have seen a car orJohn and Joy Cutts are based in a sealed road before. Inevitably, the Just the day before John and Joy hadSentani, which is about 15 kms from traditional village way of life will be been to Papua New Guinea to get aJayapura. Like many other Papuan opened up to the wider world so this new visa. The land border had beentowns, there is something of a ‘Wild experience of town life helps them closed due to political tensions. ByWest frontier’ atmosphere. General and their families to prepare. some miracle, their paperwork was instores, workshops that make pretty order, and the visa was obtained. After a brief late afternoon nap,well anything, board-built houses we went to our favourite spot inwith tin roofs and people and dogs We were also about to discover a prob-wandering around everywhere lem with our Surat Jalan (permits issued downtown Sentani, the Manna Houselooking busy and fierce at the same by the police to travel). Foreigners need Restaurant. It serves excellenttime. There are, as in many places in these permits if they intend wandering Chinese-style food, and we go thereIndonesia, lots of motorbikes as they off the beaten track in Indonesia and for what we call our ‘last supper,’are cheap and easy to use on the pot- there are some specific security con- although hopefully not in the strictlyholed roads. cerns in Papua due to separatist groups. 16 17
  8. 8. John and Joy Cutts outside their house in Sentani. Manna House Restaurant where we have our ‘last supper.’ iThe main street of Sentan ountain.perched below Cy clops M 18 19
  9. 9. Friday, 17 April (in Timika) breakfasts for the jungle meet their logistical organiser, Ian around Grasberg back in the 1980s, treks. All this Cherry very Watson. Ian showed us the biggest the current mine would probably notAt 9.40 am, we took the 50-minute efficiently had bagged up drill core shed I have ever seen, like have been created. Alex and I met withflight from Sentani on the north coast for us and delivered to an aircraft hangar, and we browsed Dave before the trip and we knew heto Timika on the south coast, and flew the airport. through maps and satellite photos of would be keeping a watchful eye onover the Moni lands in the middle of Freeport’s extensive exploration areas. our progress as he always did in casePapua. On arrival, we stored our bags We then hired a local of emergency. Thanks the Missionary Aviation Fellowship Kijang taxi and dropped The exploration teams are covering(MAF) hangar in preparation for John and Joy in Kuala large and remote areas, and every day Then we returned to the hotel andMonday’s flight to Pogapa and Kencana for the shuttle vehicle to have to face huge challenges with swam in the tropical hotel pool. Tothen checked in at the Rimba Hotel Tembagapura where John was to logistics and diverse tribal groups finish the day we watched a film and(formerly a Sheraton) amidst many speak to a church group. The towns that have a very different perspective had an early dinner in a desertedbig military brass assembled for of Kuala Kencana in the lowlands on the world. It is not work for the hotel. No beer was on offer due toa conference. and Tembagapura in the highlands faint-hearted, but exploration is what local elections and the effect alcohol were built by the American Freeport makes mining companies. Were it not has on how Papuans express theirAround midday, we shopped at mining company to support their for the determination and persistence political opinions!Cherry’s store for supplies for the massive copper and gold mine in the of explorers such as Dave Potter, atrip to the interior. Cherry’s is like a We went to bed at around 10 p.m. and heart of Papua. The mining operation dear friend and fellow geologist, whogeneral store in a Wild West town, enjoyed a good night’s sleep. is one of the engineering wonders of led and championed explorationselling everything for the explorer. the world and the current GrasbergThe amiable Chinese lady who runs pit is at an elevation of over 4,000the store provided us with sacks of metres and perched just below therice, tins of biscuits and sugar, boxes Carstenz glacier.of instant Indonesian noodles, andmost importantly, John’s oatmeal, Alex and I then went to Freeport’swhich provides him with his power lowland exploration office, to 20
  10. 10. Explora tion Core Shed, Core, and Gr asberg Section 22 23
  11. 11. Saturday, 18 April, Timika if we were somewhere in the English the hotel restaurant, an offer we fessed it made her feel sick. That’s the home counties, but it bears repeating readily accepted. way the ‘cookie crumbles,’ but it was aWe got up at 9 a.m. My mobile phone that all these amenities were built by great evening.had died overnight, so I spent the The company was great, but the food Freeport to attract employees to livemorning in Timika getting it sorted was shocking. Alex had ‘white grease’ We went to bed with the alarm set for and work in this remote place. It ob-out. Alex stayed at the hotel relaxing chicken Teppanyaki which she put up 5 a.m. for the weigh-in at MAF and the viously the pool… good for her. a good show of eating or at least push- flight to our final destination, the little After our meal, it was back to Ian’s ing around the plate, but later con- community of Pogapa.I found a Nokia shop, got a new compound for a surprise, but veryphone and got all the numbers trans- welcome, rum and coke nightcapferred. Yes, even in Timika, a placenot far from the middle of nowhere, and then back to the hotel to watch Desp ite bein g near the middle of now here, some more films before turning inthere is a mobile phone shop that around midnight. the Nokia phone shop gave grea t ser vice.provides great service. A good night’s sleep for me, but not The technicians wer e excellen t and the wholeBack at the hotel, after some moretough hours by the pool, we went to for Alex who wasn’t feeling well. job was a lot of fun and done in one hour. I hoped it wasn’t anything serious.the gym to loosen up and much toAlex’s delight, torrential rain started Sunday, 19 April, Timikato pelt down just as we were outsidegoing back to our room. We got up late and spent the day by the wonderful tropical pool. It’s aAfter a quick shower, we headed to hard life, all this jungle stuff!the golf club in Kuala Kencana withIan, but as there were many military John and Joy arrived from Tem-guards hanging around in the car bagapura mid-afternoon and Johnpark, we went to a nearby Chinese joined us at the pool, while Joy wiselyrestaurant instead. We were the only took a nap after their journey.customers, but the meal was good In the late afternoon, a friend fromand Ian was great company. Freeport, Joe Macpherson, invited usGolf clubs, hotels and restaurants to join him and his boss, Georgemake this part of the world sound as Macdonald, for an early dinner at 24
  12. 12. Monday, 20 April, Timika–Pogapa a high-pitched ‘Moni whistle’ from he is ready to leave. He isn’t yet ready The airstrips are generally constructed John at the reception desk, saying but I wonder if, having spent so much on ridges where flattish spaces can beAlex had a restless night, and when ‘let’s go.’ The Moni language is spo- time with the Monis, he ever will be? created, or wherever there are natu-she woke up she had a mild fever and ken by very few non-Monis, but John rally flat areas such as on the banks ofswollen glands in her neck. Fortunate- We eventually took off for Pogapa and Joy are able to change easily the larger river valleys. Minimumly, she is a fighter, and after two Pa- in the trusted Cessna 208 Caravan. between Moni, English, Bahasa and dimensions are only around 400 me-nadol tablets, we were up, showered, The 40-minute flight was thankfully ‘whistling.’ What a gift! tres long by as little as 20 metres wideand down to breakfast at 5.30 am. uneventful; the weather was fine and and the strips are generally steep, up At MAF, we checked in, with our Alex sat comfortably in the co-pilot’sAt the MAF hangar, a large, noisy, to an angle of 25 degrees. packs that weighed around 75 kg and seat. The scenery below was spec-and very agitated crowd was block- also took with us some 75 kg of relief tacular. We flew over mountains and Up slope, there is usually a jungle-ing the way to the building. A plane supplies for Pogapa, which would wiggled our way up many valleys and covered mountain, and down slope, ahad crashed the day before at the come in useful following the recent across narrow mountain passes. steep drop to a jungle-covered valley.village of Ilaga in the interior, kill- landslides that had devastated many Landing is uphill to slow the aircrafting all eight passengers and the two Without the network of jungle air- of the food gardens in the region. down, and take-off is downhill to aidpilots. People in the crowd wanted to strips that have been constructed over acceleration. The plane then hurtlesgo and recover the remains of their The food gardens are planted on hill- the past decades, many areas would over the edge, falling well into therelatives. Our flight was delayed so a sides, and bear some resemblance to still be inaccessible without weeks, or valley below before gathering enoughsmall group could fly to Ilaga to see, allotments in Britain, but at a very even months, of hard walking. speed to pick up altitude. For obviousbut not recover, the remains. MAF much steeper angle. As landslides had Everything gets in and out via these reasons, the weight load needs to bepolicy is not to fly human remains; destroyed their gardens, the people airstrips: medical and food supplies, carefully calculated and passengersif they did, sadly there would be so were now desperately hungry and fac- teachers, missionaries, equipment, need a strong stomach, but above all,much demand that other air traffic ing the task of replanting from scratch. government officers and the sick (if complete faith in the pilots.would grind to a halt. By now, the crowd at the airport was they are lucky enough to be able to get The more remote airstrips are builtSo, we went back to the Rimba ho- even more agitated and trying to get to a strip and get a seat). Even now, by the local tribes using only muscletel for a second breakfast and called more and more people onto the flight many villages are over a week’s walk power and very simple hand toolsAmy, John’s sister, in the US. Amy, to Ilaga. Many had not taken ‘no’ for from the nearest strip, and flights are which can take many years to com-too, has spent much of her life in an answer, and were warming up to infrequent and often aborted due to plete. At most, there is a very limitedPapua and knows the terrain well. She throw rocks at the building. We kept bad weather. window to get in and out before thereckoned the current leg of the trek well out of the line of fire. MAF is a non-profit missionary or- cloud mass builds up and the lightfrom Tomosiga to Bugalaga would be During the seemingly endless wait ganisation that services many remote planes can’t see to land.our greatest challenge so far. Com- for the flight, John encountered a tribal areas. It uses a variety of lighting from someone who had grown But we landed safely, on time, on the member of a rival church group that fixed-wing planes and helicopters.up here and like her brother was steep grass airstrip at Pogapa. was trying to have him thrown out of The skill and dedication of the pilotssuper fit, that was a worry! Indonesia. This ongoing saga worried who daily put their lives at risk to help Our real journey was about to begin.Joy suddenly jumped up and said John very much. Papua is his home others is extraordinary.John was impatiently calling us. I had and there is so much more he wants toheard nothing, but Joy could hear achieve with the Moni people before 26 27
  13. 13. ika Getting r eady to lea ve Tim r the in the Cessna Car a van foJohn, Joy and Alex enjoying theirsecond breakfast at the Rimba Hotel. flig ht to Pogapa. 28 29
  14. 14. Alex took the co-pilo t’ sea t for s the40-minu te flig ht from Timika to Pog ap a.The remo te and mo un tainous jun glescenery below was breathtaking andpr ovided a pr evi ew of the kind of ter rainwe were going to be cr ossing on foo t inthe next few days. 30 31
  15. 15. AIRSTRIPSThe jungle airstrips are remarkable.They are built by the local tribes peopleusing only basic hand tools. Constructionis a village affair involving everyone;men dig, women and children removethe dirt and those too old to workprovide moral support. Landslides frequently hamper the progress of work and 32 completion can take decades. 33
  16. 16. In TheInTerIorMonday, 20 April, Pogapa (continued) ing Homeyo landslide of August 1984. Three weeks after this forced move, Having done that and settled in, Alex John and Joy’s home had been de- Joy gave birth to another daughter, and I took off into the surroundingPogapa is at an elevation of 1,980 m. stroyed in the night and most of their Jenna. John then built a new house country and walked for an hour orI checked my Garmin GPS with the worldly belongings had been swept at Pogapa in only four months en- so to the nearby Government school.MAF instruments and all tallied. away. Joy was pregnant with the sec- tirely from local timber that he cut The air was cool and clear, the viewsIt pays to be careful in this part of ond child but they and their young himself. Not one to sit idly by, at the were spectacular and along the waythe world. daughter, Jaime, got out alive. They same time he also organized con- we met an old man quietly plant-The village has around 2,000 inhabit- had to move from Homeyo to Pogapa. struction of the Pogapa airstrip. ing coffee seedlings beside a shadedants who mostly live in small wooden It is a frightening tale of the power of stream. This was Alex’s first experi- The house is beautiful. It is built on ahuts that huddle around the sloping nature that shows how resilient the ence of the interior of Papua. grassy slope overlooking the lower partgrass airstrip or on the steep slope Cutts family are to have stayed here. of the airstrip. A balcony on stilts at the Alex was still not feeling well, so afterbelow the airstrip that runs some 300 In John’s words: “It is only our faith front of the house provides a place for an early supper of greens, rice andmetres down to the wild Kemabu in God and our sense of His purpose John to meet and discuss issues with chicken curry Alex went to bed. ForRiver. The people are predominantly for us that has kept us here.” the Pogapa villagers. The Cutts’ home this to hit her out here was a real testMonis who live a subsistance lifestyle Just imagine it being pitch dark, in is very much like a Swiss ski chalet. of character. I slept on Alex’s flooron a staple diet of sweet potatoes and the middle of nowhere, having no just to keep an eye on her, although Iyams. There is very little contact with John fixed the water supply to the communication with the outside am sure she didn’t need it.the outside world. house as the pipe bringing water world, with a young child to look after from the mountain had been cut by We both had a good night’s sleep inAs we were unloading our supplies, and suddenly your house slides away the locals, as often happens, so they the cool mountain setting under twoJohn told us the story of the devastat- in a torrential downpour! can get fresh water without walking blankets. to the Kemabu River. 34 35
  17. 17. We landed uphill on the grass airs tripat the village of Pogapa. On the right isPogapa Pone (Moni for mountain) coveredby some of the steep food gar dens thatpro vide the stap les of sweet pota toesand yams. On the lef t is the 300-meterslop e dow n to the wild Kemabu River. The Cessna departed and we had ar rived in the inter ior. 36 37
  18. 18. The wooden house with its sloping tin roof is like a ski chalet. Upstairs areJohn and Joy’ house sits on the slop e at s four bedrooms and athe base of Pog apa Pone abo ve the low er bathroom. Downstairsend of the airstr ip. John cut the timber is a kitchen with a wood burning stove,and built the house over 25 years ago a gear room and ain 1984 when their previous house in the living/dining room withvillage of Homeyo was des troyed in the a fireplace. I t canmiddle of the night by a landslide. be pretty cool in the evenings in Papua. 38 39
  19. 19. Tuesday, 21 April, Pogapa near John’s house where the five- Alex’s stay with Lois and Mary, had hindsight had we stayed a little longer year-old pupils were being taught been arranged by John, and she was in Pogapa for Alex to become betterJohn and I got up early and went to the mathematics and singing. going to help them in their various acclimatized she would undoubtedlymarket to buy vegetables and we also nursing activities while John and I have managed the trek successfully…managed to pick up a beautiful tradi- We then walked down to the Kemabu did our trek. But, when we arrived in and no doubt better than I did!tional net made from local bark string River for a wash. Well, what a walk! Papua, Alex had decided she wouldand coloured pink by native dye. One hour scrambling down, a brief My satellite phone was not working like to join us on our trek. wash, and then nearly two hours well, but eventually I got through toNets are string sacks that carry all climbing back up, with two hair- Sitting on the pig fence after the Ke- Vivien in Jersey and left a message toimportant possessions. They may be raising crossings of a swinging vine mabu ‘wash walk,’ Alex was starting to say we were both OK. I had hoped tosmall, equivalent in size to a super- bridge thrown in for good measure. have doubts. She was worried that if get news about Kate, who was aboutmarket carrier bag or larger, like a she had to do more than three times to have a baby, but this reassurancecement bag. They are carried by plac- On the way back, we stopped at a what we had just done, every day for would have to the handle over the head with the pig fence for a rest and a chat. Alex’s a week, she wouldn’t make it.bag trailing down the back. A net will original plan had been to stay in a vil- We all had a good night’s sleep withnormally contain shells in a smaller lage called Tomosiga with two Cana- Back at the house, we talked through the alarm set for the inevitable pre-woven bag (currency), some tobacco dian missionary nurses, Lois Belsey Alex’s concerns with John and Joy dawn start.and leaves for cigarette papers, betel and her colleague Mary. and in the end Alex decided to sticknut (a mild narcotic), some cooked with her original plan of staying with Lois was a nurse and midwife fromyams, taro, or sweet potatoes (food), Lois and Mary in Tomosiga. It was Ontario, who had been living with theand even babies. And that is about it, obviously a tough but very mature Moni people for over 30 years, anda Moni is ready for the journey ahead. decision on Alex’s part. was fluent in their language. BeforeWhen we returned Alex was still in coming to Indonesia, she had worked Later on, towards the end of our timebed but feeling much better, so we in Vietnam, but had been forced to together in Papua, we did that veryvisited the small kindergarten school leave in 1975 at the end of the war. same walk without any problem, so in 40 41
  20. 20. MONI NETSEver yone has a net and some have several.The nets may be huge and car ry ever ythin gfrom firewood to food to babi es or they maybe smaller and car ry tobacco, traditionalshell money, betel nut and a packed lunch ’ of ‘cooked sweet pota to. Traditionally, they aremade locally from nati ve bark string butmodern, brig ht colo ured nylon versions arebecoming mor e common. 42 43
  21. 21. Alex looked very much at home owi th the kinderg ar ten children whwere very smar tly turned ou tin their blue uniforms. Thr ougho ut aour time in Papua Alex acted asmagnet to children. 44 45
  22. 22. A bridge across the Kemabu. These bridgesare of ten the only way to cross the fast-flowing rivers in the interior and they takea bit of getting used to. One has to walkdown towards the middle of the bridge andthen up again towards the far bank swayingall the way for good measure. 46 47
  23. 23. Af ter the walk do wn to the Kema bu,I t was a relief to be back in fr on t ofthe warm fir e in the living room of Johnand Joy’ ho use. Still no t feeling s well,Alex talked abou t her plans wi th Joy andaf ter a lot of discussion, she de cided tostay in Tomosiga ra ther than ac comp an yJohn and I on the tr ek. 48 49
  24. 24. Wednesday, 22 April, to Tomosiga hanging over the hills. As they say ters! The price was 200,000 Rupiah Moni Bible that had originally been in Papua: “What’s inside a cloud? A per day per person, equivalent to translated by John’s parents.Bad weather delayed our departure to mountain.” The flight time was only about 20 US dollars.Tomosiga until around 1 pm. Following a sermon by Pastor Simson, around 30 minutes, but the same dis- After dark, Lois and John held a some of the men in the congregationWaiting on the airstrip, we were tance would have taken up to a week church service in the little wooden stood and made speeches. They allwatched by a pair of young identical on foot. church. It started with beautiful Moni sounded positive, despite the harshtwins, not often seen in these parts. Lois and Mary met us on the partly chanting and people drifted into the tone of the Moni language, and manyUntil recently, one of the twins would completed airstrip at Tomosiga and church until it was filled with about of the dialogues included reference tohave been killed by being buried we went to their small compound 150 villagers. Alex sat on a low log John and his parents. The Cutts fam-alive, as the Monis believe that one of area. Lois was staying in a single pew surrounded by children and ily has long been a central part of lifethem is the devil disguising himself room hut and Alex would stay with women carrying babies in their nets. throughout much of the Moni a child. Fortunately, for this pair of Mary in a two-room hut only a few She looked very comfortable. Mentwins the belief is changing, courtesy Looking at the congregation, the metres away. They shared a private and boys, wearing gourds, sat sepa-of teaching by the missionaries. thing that struck me was the intensity outdoor toilet, which was a real lux- rately from the women. The men had of the clear brown sparkling MoniOur wait on the airstrip also unfortu- ury. The little church compound was left their bows and arrows outside as eyes in the lantern light.nately drew the attention of a Java- very homey and like a village within a a sign of respect.nese policeman stationed in Pogapa. village. This would be Alex’s home for After singing, clapping and shakingHe questioned me at length about the next few days. hands, there were readings from theour reasons for being in Pogapa and Alex set up her room and after a mealwas obviously very suspicious about of fresh sweet potatoes and greens we M ONI E YESsomething. As foreigners, I think, he went down to the ‘nearby’ river for afelt we might have been journalists wash. That was another one of John’sthere on some secret mission. We ‘nearbys’ and after the climb back weweren’t of course, but he didn’t seem were dirtier and sweatier than whento trust our reason for being there we started.which was simply to experience theMoni life. In any event, he let us go Next on the agenda was to hire sixon our way. porters to accompany us. John reck- oned the trek would take five days,Our pilot, Gunther, eventually flew but the porters thought seven wasus to Tomosiga the long way round more likely. My bet was on the por-via Bugalaga, as bad weather was 50 51
  25. 25. We had a long wait on the airstripof Pogapa for the helicopter to arriveas the surrounding hills were coveredin cloud. Alex spent the time surroundedby women and children, including a pairof identical Moni twins, while I passedthe time explaining our presence to thelocal policeman. 52 53
  26. 26. Tomosig a P og ap a to tan ce ht fr om same dis o p ter flig bu t the The heli c min u tes, airs tr ip 30 ek. The took only to a w e d ou t c o uld take up e n w as he on foo t en tly be d w in g sig a had r ec take fixe a t Tomo o uld no t for the r ain s and c p r oblem by hea v y w as no t, b u t ther e air cr a f er ior. cop ter. to the in t MAF heli r ther in e m o vin g fu W e w er54 55
  27. 27. Lois and Mary surrounded by a crowd of villagersmet us on the airstrip at Tomosiga. Af ter a quick lunchof vegetables, Alex set up her room in the hut that shewould share with Mary in the little church compound.Then, we hired six porters for the trip that wouldstart the next day. 56 57
  28. 28. Thursday, 23 April, Tomosiga– and most of the afternoon was spent place by a string under the scrotum have been plenty of food, judging byKumbugetadi, 9 hours. climbing a ridiculously steep drain- and another around the waist. They the size of their very fat pigs! age filled with large boulders and vary greatly in size, from a few inchesAfter a rough night’s sleep on Finally, some villagers took pity on fallen trees. But every time I fell, a long on younger boys to over two feetthe floor of the Camat’s (a local Govt. us, and provided us with some greens Papuan hand grabbed me in a vice- long in grown men and they alwaysOfficer) building, our temporary and tapioca for a reasonable price, like grip before I could do any seri- point upwards. The upper opening ishome, John and I got up at dawn and and we were very relieved to have ous damage. filled with a ball of leaves so that thepacked up our gear. I called home, at least some real food to propel our contents remain a mystery.and finally got through to Vivien. While the terrain was rough, the team onward for the following day’sFantastic news! Kate had delivered weather was fine, and for most of All the men were sporting bows march to the next village of Dapiaga,her baby at 7 a.m. the day before: a the day we were sheltered from the and arrows and chewing betel nut a rugged day’s walk away to the west.boy, Jack, weighing in at an impres- fierce high-attitude sun by dense and the women were bare breasted, As the village chief, Hasabudi, sat insive 10 lb 4 oz. Everyone was OK, but rainforest canopy. wearing traditional string skirts and the village clearing watching us, hisat that size it must have been a bit of a surrounded by their many children. The dry conditions made the treach- son stroked his arm gently and lookedstruggle for Kate. Grandchild number There were lots and lots of wild looking erous trails a bit more navigable and lovingly up at his dad who held himtwo was alive and kicking! pigs everywhere, and the atmosphere the thundering rivers that needed in a protective hug.  was a little dark and foreboding.Auntie Alex was also thrilled at the to be crossed were less dangerous. The villagers could be so tender andnews and we talked for a while about The day’s march provided a good Our team was starving after the gru- yet at the same time think nothing ofKate, James, and Vivien. As Alex left chance to get to know our six Moni elling trek. We had some dried food, demanding such outrageous pricesfor the gardens with the women to porters who would stay with us all but when John asked the village chief for basic supplies. Still, a quid is a quidcollect vegetables, I gave her a huge the way to Bugalaga. Two of them about buying some food from their and sources of income are few and farhug and said goodbye. were women and every bit as tough gardens, we were told they could only between in a place like Kumbugetadi! as their husbands, and were certainly part with a bunch of bananas, and itIt felt strange leaving Alex in Tomo- expected to carry an equal load and would come at the whopping price The central part of the village wassiga, in the middle of Papua. I would work just as hard, if not harder. of 400,000 Rupiah, or about 40 US small and bare, no more than 30m xmiss her very much, but we were to dollars!  Those are prices that would 30m and the few surrounding hutsmeet again soon. We arrived at our first stop, Kumbuge- make you blink in a supermarket back were all made of local rough cut tadi, in the late afternoon after a gru-We finally hit the trail at 7.30 a.m. home, but absolutely unheard of out timber with palm frond roofs. There eling nine hours on the trail. The small here in the jungle! John is not one were only four huts in all: the men’sIt was a very long, tough day. Many village of less than 50 people was one to be speechless under most circum- hut, two family huts for wives andsteep inclines and declines, as al- of the most remote villages we had stances, but this floored him.  young children and the Ugai, orways seems to be the case on day visited so far. The men were wearing dance house, which was very muchone of any expedition. Flat ground ‘koteka,’ the traditional penis gourds It was clear we were not really wel- the centrepiece of the village.doesn’t exist in the interior of Papua that cover the penis and are held in come in the village but there must 58 59
  29. 29. the tr ail felt pr etty As alw ay s, the first day on ain, w ith the steep terr ro ug h as w e gr appled d sw in ging br idgesSociety is structured so that men That night, there was no dance andspent their nights around a fire in the we were allowed to sleep in the giant hungry le eches, full ri vers anmen’s house that they often share dance house on the trampoline floor,with some of their prized pigs. The well worn from the hundreds of feet for over nine ho tell stories late into the night that had danced for many nights inand sometimes through to dawn, past rituals. dozing off from time to time. The John and I camped in the dance roomwomen and children sleep separately and our porters slept in the kitchenin the family huts and deliver food to and kept the fire burning all night tothe men through the night to sustain provide protection from the spirits.their storytelling. John put up his mosquito net, but IThe Ugai is unusual in both con- didn’t bother. Malaria is common atstruction and use. It comprises a these altitudes and is by far the big-kitchen and a sleeping room with gest cause of death in this region, butearth floors by the entrance and the I felt lucky.focal large inner ‘dance room,’ with As we settled down, Chief Hasabudiits raised, bouncy floor made of walked into to our ‘bedroom,’ and see-young springy saplings. ing I had no mosquito net, shruggedPeople walk huge distances from and said: “No matter, the mosquitoessurrounding villages to visit this in Kumbugetadi always stay outside.”Ugai and often stay for several days. That night, he was proven right.At night, under the low light of a It rained most of the night andcouple of native bamboo torches, the Ugai roof leaked exactly abovethey sing and dance and jump up where we were sleeping. Weand down on the bouncy floor until moved, but not before our sleep-the small hours so the whole building ing bags were nicely moist.moves and shakes.At these ‘night dances’ boys and girlsmeet and greet each other, exchangegifts and, unseen in the dark by theirparents, set up liaisons and sexualencounters. This is the Moni versionof speed dating, and is one traditionalritual that does not sit comfortablywith the church. 60
  30. 30. The ‘Koteka ’ or penis gourd is grown locally and may come in various lengths and widths to suit all needs. Interestingly they always point upwar ds. Sometimes, a ball of leaves is stuffed in the top opening so that the conten ts which, apart from the obvious, may also include tobacco, traditional money and other valuable possessions, remain a myster y.62 63
  31. 31. The Villag e of Kumbug etadi is tin y. d I t is in the middle of no wher e an we pr obably the most remo te villag e re had visited so far. The atmosp he was dark and foreboding.64 65
  32. 32. The village chief, Hasabudi, tenderly held his youngson as he sat in the centre of the village watchingus as we arrived. He didn’t look too pleased tosee us, but nevertheless allowed us to sleep inthe ‘Ugai ’ (Dance House) which was very muchthe centerpiece of the tiny village. 66 67
  33. 33. Friday, 24 April, Kumbugetadi– Suddenly, my ‘wheels’ fell off. Kumbugetadi, 6½ hours I collapsed, shivering, dizzy, feverish We got up, damp but cheerful, at first and so weak that I could not stand. light, had breakfast, packed up our What on earth was going on? I had wet gear and set off at 7 am, feeling had malaria several times, but had fine and looking forward to the day. never experienced anything like this We set a good jungle pace that would in more years of jungle work than I get us to our goal by mid-afternoon.  care to remember. First was a one-hour descent that Five weeks previously, I had a bout of was so steep we had to use tree roots Dengue Fever and was hospitalised for steps and handholds. Leaches in Jakarta for several days. Maybe, I continued to pounce on us, as they hadn’t fully recovered. Whatever the had the day before, and sucked what reason was, my body just gave up. blood they could, until we discov- Should we try to press on or cancel ered them clinging to our arms, legs, the visit to the remote villages, and stomachs and where ever else they instead, figure out how to get a sick could grab a bite. Ripping them off man back to the village we had left left the spot itching and bleeding, that morning? helping the next batch of leeches to hone in on the scent of fresh blood. After a long and pretty emotional discussion with John, it was decidedWe rolled out our ma ts on the spr ingy At least, I suppose we served as part of the food chain. that we had to turn back and try tosap ling floor of the Ugai and apart from At the bottom of the descent, John reach Kumbugetadi. While it would have nothing tangible to offer it wasgetting wet under a leaky roo f we had , and I performed our morning ablu- tions before we crossed the main at least in the right direction towardsa reasonable and spr ingy night’ sleep s help. To keep going further into the river for the ascent on the other side. interior, further from help, could haveaf ter the firs t day’ gruellin g nine hours s It must have been over 300 metres put everyone at risk; not an accept- down and 300 metres back up again, able optionon the trail. probably about equivalent to down Of course, that was the only decision and up a couple of 40-storey build- ings—except there are no stairs in the circumstances, but I was furi- or handrails! ous, delirious and devastated all at the same time. In all likelihood, it felt like By mid-morning, we had covered I was giving up my only chance to some serious ground and were mid- complete the Moni Trail, and with only way up the next mountain to the sky. four days to go to the finishing line! 69
  34. 34. I staggered off into the forest to deal The reality was we either had to make I tried to clean myself up as best I dragged, they thought that anotherwith my feelings in private. From his the steep climb back to the ‘dark’ could in a stream and then rolled hunting party ahead of them hadexpression, it was clear that John village of Kumbugetadi or else sleep out my mat in the Ugai, and tried to killed a big pig in the forest andunderstood what was going on and out for the night. Sleeping out would sleep. The Ugai was dark and the high dragged it down to the river to cleanhe waited patiently on the track, chat- probably not have been fatal, as apart smoke-blackened ceiling kept it rea- it in preparation for cooking. Whenting with the porters. from snakes, there are few dangerous sonably cool. they found no pig entrails by the creatures in this part of the world, but river, they were puzzled and couldn’tAfter about fifteen minutes, having After a while, the room filled up with being under cover from the rain at figure out what had happened.gained some sort of control, what seemed like the whole village, night had many obvious advantages! Now, they had their answer.I returned to the group and apolo- led by Chief Hasabudi. Hasabudi I was the ‘dead pig.’gised for my awful performance. So once again, we set off at a means ‘Empty Power’ or ‘Powerless.’ crawl, across the river and up the A strange name was given to him byIt was time to turn back! mountain that at that point looked his parents to protect him from evilTogether, we set off in silence back insurmountable. spirits and the devil. Many Monis be-down the steep path to the river. The lieve that a horrible name will protect The return journey took over threeMoni porters were a lifesaver and their children from the devil. hours with many stops, sometimes I shall never forget Kumbugetadi,supported and held on to me all the every few metres. I certainly would The villagers were very concerned wild, remote and untouched, butway, but by the time we reached the not have made it at all, but for the about my survival and they sat and sadly, in my mind, it will always beriver, I was beaten. Moni hands that pushed and pulled chatted around me so that I would not the place that ‘may’ mark the end ofWhile John and some of the porters me along the slippery, winding, be alone. I felt very secure surround- the Moni trail, at least for me.watched over me, the others climbed vertical path. ed by tribesmen with their bows and What would happen next? That wasback into the forest with their bush arrows, bare-breasted women and The hours dragged by as I swayed like the 64-thousand dollar question. Weknives. When they returned, they many curious children, but rarely had a drunken sailor on a rough sea, but somehow had to try and make it backwere carrying stacks of large leaves I felt so ill and sick at heart. by late afternoon there were signs of to Tomosiga over the next few days,and ferns which they made up into a human habitation and it was with as there was little food in Kumbuge-bed on the riverbank. great relief that we finally inched tadi. How would the fever play out?As I lay there willing myself to re- our way into the village and made a I would have to be carried, so planscover so that maybe, just maybe, we beeline for the dance house… Home were made for six men from the vil-could turn around and head back sweet home! In the early evening, a travelling lage to carry this oversized ‘wild pig,’ atowards Bugalaga, John lifted my feet I knew that I would be told ‘I told Moni hunting party arrived in the vil- task they performed often. A stretcherfrom the river and placed them on you so’, going to Papua so soon after lage. They had walked along the same would be made and four men woulda rock out of the water. I will always dengue, but I had done this kind of path as us and when they learned carry while two men caught theirremember that gentle gesture. thing for much of my working life what had happened, they looked at breath, and then they would rotate.No luck with the mind over body as a geologist and wasn’t worried. me and roared with laughter: As fortune would have it, it rained allstuff and after two hours on the side Trips like this are not to be given up ‘So that is the dead pig!’ night long and the fever developedof the river, the shaking and vomit- lightly, and nor is an opportunity to They explained excitedly that when further. Not a highlight of my careering started. complete the Moni Trail. Still, we live they had seen the damage to the and night is always the worst time, and learn, regardless of the advanced paths, where I had fallen and been when fevers generally spike. age we reach! 70 71
  35. 35. The ‘Dead Pig ’ passed out on a bedof leaves by the river. Af ter a We went straight back to the Ugai to restcoup le of hours, we had no choice and hope for a recovery. Chief Hasabudibut to continue the struggle towards and the villagers stayed close to keep anKumbugetadi if we wer e to arri ve eye on things.before dark. Soon a hunting party arrived and joined us 72 in the Ugai. 73
  36. 36. Saturday, 25 April, Kumbugetadi– It was a staggering sum of money in ing betel nut and watching intently. eat your rectum), to Aga ndola sigigaWolambimbuta, 6 hours these remote parts of the jungle, and Why was he here? pa nua (I will eat your sore red rec- when John told me of the ‘generous’ tum). If the greetings go that far youIt was a great relief to see some early Ignoring Hasabudi, we greeted the offer, I bolted, or more accurately know you are really good friends!light. As I was still a mess, we decided gathered villagers in the traditional rolled, off the stretcher as John toldto stay in Kumbugetadi for another Moni way. It is difficult to compare ‘I will eat the chief that we would somehowday, but eventually concluded that it your breast,’ let alone the more make it without his help, even if we The Moni ‘handshake’ is not like ours.would be better to try to push on intimate Moni greetings with ‘The slept out in the jungle.  It is performed by crocking the indexback towards Tomosiga in case things weather is quite chilly today’ in an finger and putting it firmly betweengot worse. A hush fell over the village as we English village, or with ‘G’day you old the crocked index finger and second set off like a troop of ants, with the bastard’ in a small Australian town.We went for the plan that six people finger of the person being greeted. meanest-looking, most muscular por- Lots of room for misunderstanding aswould carry me tied onto a simple Both participants squeeze hard, and ter, Lukius, given the job of being my cultures mix and certainly after livingstretcher made from two poles and simultaneously pull their fingers minder and main source of strength with the Moni, the words ‘Hello, howsome rice sacks. When the stretch- away, producing a loud clicking and propulsion. After an interest- are you?’ and a cursory handshake willer was built, I tested it for size. A tight noise, similar to the sound we make ing start to the day we were lurching now forever seem rather, and I would have to keep my legs by clicking the thumb and second along the trail by 8 a.m.and head well tucked in and hold on finger together. As we were making our polite ‘eat mypretty tightly. After around four hours and many breast’ greetings, Hasabudi shouted This is repeated many times while collapses later, with a lot of pushing loudly to John. I didn’t understandMy bottom had just touched the slapping ones chest with the other and dragging, we came to a small a word, but it sounded bad. In anystretcher when Chief Hasabudi, who hand and saying ‘Amakane.’ Amak- ridge-top village. With five huts, it event, I didn’t have much fight lefthad been watching the proceedings, ane does not mean ‘hello’ or even was not unlike Kumbugetadi and once in me, so we would just have to faceapproached us. He demanded one ‘how are you’ as one might expect. again there was much betel nut chew- whatever was coming.million Rupiah per man for carrying It means: ‘Eat my breast,’ and is the ing, many gourds, bows and arrows,the stretcher to the next village, and ‘least intimate’ of all the vivid Moni To my great relief, Hasabudi broke bare breasts and pigs everywhere.that was less than half of the way to greetings. With increasing familiarity into a big red betel nut smile, spat anTomosiga. In total, he wanted six mil- Chief Hasabudi, the ‘six-million-Ru- the greetings become more colourful. impressive red betel nut spray thatlion Rupiah or around 600 US dollars. piah man’ had taken a different path The familiarity scale moving swiftly must have travelled a couple of me- and arrived before us, and he now on through: Aga ba nua (I will eat tres and said he had just come alongGood timing and Hasabudi had cer- squatted on the edge of the grassy vil- your faeces); Aga ndolapa nua (I will to check that we were alright and hetainly picked up the smell of a com- lage with his bow and arrows, chew-mercial opportunity. 74 75
  37. 37. didn’t want us to be angry with him. enough but, as he explained, to helpWhat a diplomat! cure her, the villagers had slashed her open many times around her kidneysWith the best smiles we could man- using their bamboo knives to let theage we assured him that we were ‘bad blood’ out. Our companion wasnot angry with him, although from in no doubt at all that having hadmy viewpoint I am not sure that was ‘proper’ medical treatment she wouldentirely true. Nevertheless, it was a now be fine.relief and we rested and chatted for awhile and then pushed on. We had heard of many cases similar to this on our travels. Generally, theBy early afternoon, after many more husband is not punished in any waybone-wrenching ups and downs, or even regarded as having donewe arrived at Wolambimbuta, a very anything wrong. By Moni tradition, abeautiful and safe village of a few wife, who has been bought and paidhuts and a little church set around for by pigs, shells or whatever, is hera central grassy area. The village husband’s possession and he can dowas all but deserted as everyone had with her as he pleases.gone to Tomosiga for a pig feast. Thevillage was surrounded by rich gar- Our new friend was himself travellingdens and we ate very well on papaya, with two of his wives, his sister andsabi (Moni asparagus) and jambu (an several of his children.Indonesian fruit). We had a reasonable night’s sleepSitting outside the church where we on the wooden church pews. Fortu-would sleep, an old man with a bird’s nately, we had draped our tarpaulinbeak through his nose and a very im- over the entire building in case ofpressive gourd came and sat with us. rain, which of course did come. This was not like rain in England; it wasHe explained that in the hilltop vil- made, I laid on i t When the stretcher was torrential and deafening, and felt likelage we had passed through earlier, a n came the six million the entire annual rainfall of England ready to be carr ied. Theman had beaten his wife so badly that had fallen on the little church in for tha t plan!he had nearly killed her. She was leftbarely conscious, badly bruised and one night. Rupiah pr ice tag. So much set of f on foot wi thwith internal injuries and bleeding. We had no choice bu t toThe beating would have been bad the task of dr ag gin g Lukius Igapa being given 76 me along the tr ail.
  38. 38. Lukius provided much neededsupport all along the way.Without his help who knows whatwould have happened.He certainly saved my bacon,or maybe even saved me frombecoming bacon. 78 79
  39. 39. This Moni gentleman hadcertainly mastered the artof creating a harmoniousfamily unit. He was travellingwith his two wives, severalchildren and his sister as wellas his bow and arrows just incase of problems. 80 81
  40. 40. With great relief we reached the colourful , village of Wolambimbuta af ter a challenging six hours lurching along the trail. We covered the little wooden church with our tarpaulin in case of rain. The low wooden pews that we slept on were quite a contrast to the dance floor of82 the Ugai in Kumbugetadi.83