Instead I arrived in a cloud of nausea and stomach cramps. I didn’t care where I was, just as long as there was a bed to lie down on. This was not how it was supposed to happen.
|Our Plane To and From Wamena|
We smooshed into the plane, my knees jamming into the seat in front of me, and I closed my eyes attempting to block out the world, if only for the short plane ride.
45 minutes later I woke with the plane bouncing down on the runway and squinted bleary eyed out the window. No deep meaningful thoughts only, Oh, the sun is so much brighter here. What a headache. The plane stopped and we shuffled along with the other passengers to disembark.
A Papuan man helped Isaiah down onto the tarmac and Ben and I followed with the hand luggage. Walking over to the airport terminal building, a small tin roof covered structure with chain link fence walls, I thought the mountains seemed so far away and ominous, much more distant than our close and faithful mountain at home in Sentani.
Spotting our expat friends we walked over to say hello. A “Gourd Man” stood just in front of our friends waving and giving me an enthusiastic toothless smile. “Selamat pagi, Bapak.” I greeted him with a nod and weak smile in return.
After seeing so many pictures and videos of this type of traditional dress it was still a shock to see a man standing there with nothing on except a gourd somewhat covering his privates and a feather wreath in his hair. “He’s not a real gourd man” my expat friend remarked, “He’s a professional for the tourists.” I managed another smile, thinking if I had felt better I might just have paid for a picture with him anyway, and we wandered off to find the luggage.
|Baliem Valley and Wamena from the air|