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19 November 2014 / leggypeggy

Nifty camera makes for a great introduction to an Asaro village

Asaro village

A simple photo captures smiles and delight

After a couple of whirlwind days at the colourful and frenetic Goroka Show in Papau New Guinea, we were off to stay a couple days in an Asaro village not far away.

Asaro villages are known for their mudmen. Historically the Asaro tribesmen covered their bodies with the local clay to create the impression that they were spirits to fear. Now they do it to entertain. But before I introduce the mudmen and the magnificent performance they gave us, I want to share the welcome we got from the villagers themselves.

Asaro village welcome

Not your typical welcome clothing

A huge group turned out to greet us. Men, women and children—in various states of cultural dress or undress—rushed forward to make us feel welcome. It was a warm and impressive gesture, matched by an impressive and ice-breaking gesture from Milly, one of our fellow travellers.

Milly had the foresight to bring a nifty quick-developing Polaroid camera that she used to capture candid shots our welcomers. She took plenty of pics that were printed in an instant and shared with our hosts, and it was apparent that many were ‘seeing’ themselves for the first time.

She said the camera was pricey, and so was the film, but believes they are well worth it for the goodwill the pics foster and the smiles and thanks she gets every time she hands over a pic. She wasn’t alone. I think all of us enjoyed seeing the pics being shared around.

After the hellos it was time to climb the hill to the village. We’re talking vertical here, and it took the decrepit among us about 40 minutes to get to the top. Our hosts, who are used to the hike, carried all our suitcases and backpacks. One fellow traveller got very special treatment. Fred is retired and his legs are giving out. We walked together for a while, but he stopped for a long rest about a third of the way up. He shooed me on and said he might wait until we all came down again later in the afternoon to for a side trip.

The villagers coming up behind us weren’t going to have any of that. You can imagine our surprise when Fred arrived at the top about 30 minutes later—covered in smiles. He’d been carried up the worst of it. And he didn’t go down again until the end of our stay.

And what a stay we had. Every minute was busy with a nature walk, mudmen performance, mock wedding, battle dance, cannibal pantomime, agricultural and craft demonstrations, and lots of food including a special feast. I promise to write about all of them.


Leave a Comment
  1. suchled / Nov 19 2014 10:16 am

    I wonder what would happen if we treated our tourists with the same kind of welcome.


    • leggypeggy / Nov 19 2014 11:19 am

      Some of the Aboriginal welcomes are along these lines. It would be wonderful if they could be more widespread.


  2. CuriositytotheMax / Nov 21 2014 6:57 am

    Such a wonderful post – thank you!


  3. Sy S. / Nov 21 2014 2:47 pm

    LP, the photo “A simple photo captures smiles and delight” is an excellent one… can be entered into a photo contest, a real winner!
    Sy S.


    • leggypeggy / Nov 21 2014 9:37 pm

      Thanks Sy. I liked it too, which is why I put it first. So wonderful when a moment is actually captured.


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