Friday, 26 October 2012

"I hate Lae" days

They're pretty frequent up here. After a while, the dirt and dust and humidity and... well.. everything just start getting to you. The long-termers up here will tell you that the way to survive Lae is to get out often.

Well, I've been back 3 months now, and I haven't left Lae for that long. No Salamaua, no trips up the Ramu, nada.

So, my "I-hate-Lae-day" has been brewing for a while. The weather is getting hotter and steamier and sleep is becoming more difficult. It's the Morobe Show this weekend, and that means one thing.

More crime.

People flood to Lae from all over the Province and far beyond for The Show. And MANY of them come down for the rich pickings of lots of cars carrying 'rich' white people and their goods. Companies are transporting 'stuff' to the Showgrounds, and guards and police alike are caught up with security for the myriad of things going on.

Which means carjackings and kidnaps increase.

This is probably only one week out of two that I get nervous in Lae. The other time being Independence Day. I don't wear jewelry when I leave the house, I don't go to the main Market, I lock my doors (both car and house) and I keep my wits firmly about me.

But the one place I usually feel safe, even at this time of year, is my compound. 9 ft high steel fences topped with razor wire, 2 guard dogs and a guard will pretty much do that for you.

I KNOW it sounds like a prison, but it's not. It certainly doesn't feel like one. Beautiful tropical plants soften the fences, we have a huge yard, with a pool and a BBQ area, and we have the most spectacular view. It's a gilded cage for sure.

And a cage I occupy alone most days.

We have 3 units in the compound and I am the only wife and mother. After Vop and the Husbang  leave, along with the 2 single guys in units one and two, I'm here alone.

Which has never been a problem until this morning.

I get up, open the house for the day and hear the dulcet tones of a couple of 'two kina maris' (Tok for street prostitutes) screaming at each other.

In my driveway.

They're obviously drunk and trying to beat each other up. These women will fuck you up. They carry bush knives and home-made guns, and they pimps hide in the banana plantation across the road and with shoot at you or throw rocks if you try to disturb them.

 And my guard? He's hanging off the gate WATCHING THIS SHIT GO DOWN.

Now women ,as I have blogged about before, are 2nd class citizens in PNG. This doesn't just encompass local women, or poorer rural village women, I mean ALL women. If I ring up a service provider, say Telikom, I get respectful listening noises, but no action. I could ring them 35 times and be told "we're working on it/sending a tech out". But nothing, and I mean NOTHING will be done until my husband rings them and makes noise.

After all, I am 'just' a woman.

So, as I rub the sleep from my bleary eyes and stumble over supine dogs, I hear the commotion outside, and call for the guard. It's his job to 'rouse' this, to make it go away.

And. He. Ignores. Me.

I get a quick, dismissive glance over his shoulder. He confirms it's 'jut' me, and goes back to watching the fight. It wasn't until The Husbang came downstairs, with a nightstick and threatened to set the dog on him, that he tore his attention away from the fight.

I called him FOUR times, to be ignored every single one of them.

So, today, I am sitting here, locked in my gilded cage, waiting for the Police to show and move the hookers on, and for the Guard Agency to come by with a replacement guard. I have no alcohol, it's 90 fucking degrees out, with 90% humidity, the gen set is screaming in the background and I fucking hate Lae.

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