Celebrating Independence Day in PNG


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The main reason why I had booked a week stopover in Port Moresby was to attend the annual Hiri Moale cultural festival. As soon as I landed I met with my couchsurfing hosts who told me that the festival was cancelled and that Moresby was a dangerous city where you cannot leave the house without security, so I was about to ask my travel agent to change the flight to go rightaway,  but instead I gave it a chance and am so glad I did so.
It was not because of the city itself, which stank of garbage burned on every corner on streets that were colored red by all the beetlenut spitting, but I managed yo have a good time because there was a lot going on for the coutry’s 40th Independence anniversary and because I was staying with great couchsurfing hosts and in the nearby island village of Daugo.
The first day I went to the Nature park close to the city center where I got to see thousands of flying foxes, tree cangaroos, cassowaries, birds crocodiles and some aviaries with some quite fascinating birds. It was a place to find piece to read and relax.
The rest of the days were just walking around to see markets and watch the traditional dances from the different regions (probably a hundred!) that were on display at Ela Beach and at the University. People spend fortunes traveling to the regions of PNG and here I felt like I got the same experience as if I would do too as so many tribes were represented with their own unique dances. There was a so called snake dance that happened unannounced between the performances where a bunch of black painted children were running in a line completely naked making hissing sounds. Other dances were with topless women or men wearing nothing but a woven penis cup. Some of the dances were really powerful Warrior dances with spears, bows and arrows where the dancers would leap towards the audience in a quite convincing way, scaring everyone to jump at least a meter back. I am really glad for visiting the people and at the time that I went as I think it would be the difference between having a horrible week instead of the great seven days I had in Port Moresby.
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