Photo Essay: Out to the Ocean
The stars were still out when I met Bruce, my Papua New Guinean guide at the front door. We walked mostly in silence as dawn approached. We turned off the road and walked between a river and huts with thatched roofs. Plenty of canoes waited around on the beach.
Bruce found a boat with a big outboard motor for us to take. About a dozen of us got in. A pregnant woman saw me and sat cross-legged on the floor, without thought and without effort, so I could sit on the bench. Some coconut logs spanned the river; at least one pair was used for a bridge.
We came out to Sissano Lagoon. It’s separated from the Pacific Ocean by a strip of land maybe fifty meters/yards wide.
The market wasn’t open yet, so I went to look at the ocean and found one of the most beautiful beaches of the world. Waves came in almost big enough to surf. Numerous people walked out of the mist along the beach.
The market wasn’t open quite yet. I had told Bruce that I missed swimming on the way, and he asked if I wanted to go in. I hadn’t expected to. I didn’t have my solutions for my contact lenses with me. My clothes would be wet with salt water. I knew Bruce would watch me, but I wasn’t sure if someone could come get me.
I went in anyway. A wave slammed into my legs, so I floated, marking the direction of the tide. It was strong. So I swam a little and floated. Three Papua New Guineans watched me from the shore. I waved and they waved back. I swam some more and the tension came out of my body. I didn’t swim long, but I didn’t want to risk the tide, and came in to shore feeling much better.
The market had started. I bought a big smoked fish, plenty of bananas, kaokao (think of a cross between a potato and a yam), tapiok (think tapioca made into a cake without any sugar). I could have got a smoked eel, and if I had recognized it for what it was at the time, I might have. I bought some small doughnuts for Bruce and tried one myself. It wasn’t very sweet.
We waited a little while for the boat to go back. We went back across the lagoon, up the river, back along the path, and back along the road. I already missed the winds that blew along the coast.
Finally, after coming back home, I had lunch.