The Eventful 3 Day Hike

Last week I hiked for three days through dense jungle, along beautiful ridges and slept in two very different PNG villages.  Papua New Guineans are very knowledgeable about the immediate world around them, generous and patient.  My hiking group got to experience all of these traits first hand.  During the first day, while experiencing the “bush true” part of the hike, it began to pour rain.  I had been sick earlier in the week and had not yet fully recovered.  So while we were all soaked from a mixture of sweat and rain, my body decided that it was done hiking.  And this was not a choice because we were in the middle of the jungle.  For the last section of the hike, our guide carried my pack over his and the rest of my group helped pull me up the steep inclines while helping me balance down the slick and muddy embankments.  We were walking at a snails pace but our PNG guides patiently walked in front of and behind us.  Another Papua New Guinean even joined us because he was concerned for me.  A little later the same day, before we had reached our destination, this same PNG man sprang into action along with our PNG guide when another man in my group, Derek, slipped and cut open two of his fingers with a large bush knife.  The Papua New Guineans found the right tree, shaved some bark off, packed it into the cut to stop the bleeding and then wound the bark around to protect it.  Once we finally reached the village at the top of the mountain, we used a cell phone (yes a cell phone works in the middle of the jungle where there are no roads) to call back to find out how to get help for Derek.  Knowing Derek had to get stitches, our guide, two other PNG men and the leader from our group walked him back the way we came in order to meet other nationals who would then take Derek all the way back to our home base.  The rest of us stayed behind in the village to make dinner and visit with our village host family.  I went to bed early because I was still pretty weak but after a night filled with prayer, I awoke the next day ready for the next part of the hike.  Compared with the first day the rest of the hike was uneventful but I felt very well cared for the entire time.  The willingness of complete strangers to climb a tree to get you a refreshing kulau or to accompany Derek on the hike back through jungle in the dark and the rain so that he could get medical help amazes me.

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