When in Papua New Guinea, get yourself to any village and let the locals take over. I visited two very close but very different villages in the Western Highland Province of the country – a short flight from the capital, Port Moresby.
We were led to a small clearing in the bush and promptly informed that it was lunchtime. Knowing what was to come, a slight sense of unease mixed with excitement washed over.
Emerging from the undergrowth a large 4 year old pig knows what’s in store. He is pulled unwillingly towards the makeshift fire pit, forcefully held down and struck repeatedly on the crown by a tree trunk. His body flops backwards into a ball and It’s all over surprisingly quickly. He is washed and then placed over the fire where his hair crackles until it is dry and perfectly singed.
The hair is then removed using a wooden stick scraping every inch of the body over the naked flame.
The animal is then placed on banana leaves next to the fire pit, ready to be dissected. With little more than an axe, internal organs are removed and the headless body is strewn out on the ground. All the while stones are being piled on the fire to be heated for the next stage.
Nearby a hole is dug and the ground is laid with more leaves. Hot stones are placed alongside fresh meat, herbs and sweet potato. A cover is secured and it is left to roast for at least an hour. A hike and swim in a stunning waterfall passes the time before the whole village sits down to lunch. A feed surely fit for a king.
This is what’s known as a “Mumu”. Papua New Guinea’s traditional method of cooking for big celebrations.
The very next day it’s a different Papua New Guinea village and this time there’s a school show in progress and everyone’s invited.
Big day out
The place is awash with colour and noise. It’s a school event but it seems everyone from the kids to the teachers and extended family are in on the act. We (a group of 8) are the first foreigners to visit the village and are lavished in warm smiles throughout the day. We are led to the front row to view the show’s parade and speeches. Offerings from bananas to beer are showered upon us. Anywhere you try to walk shouts of “good morning!” follow and your hand is constantly shook. It is the world’s greatest welcome and it’s all 100% genuine.
Welcome to Papua New Guinea.
Come see it for yourself. Get in touch if you’re interested in visiting Papua New Guinea – firstname.lastname@example.org