The East is a region renowned for its generous hospitality. It is a very welcoming part of the Globe. Extended families and community-togetherness have been the hallmark of this part of the world for centuries. Having travelled fairly extensively in the region for the past 30 years, I would certainly endorse this from personal experience. Papua New Guinea, which in some ways is my second home, taught me the finer essence of hospitality. It is not really possible in that country to be “stranded” or without somewhere to rest for the night. The location may be uncomplicated, rural and very straightforward but the warmth of welcome and generosity showed by those sharing their home and meals with you, are very special. Never to be forgotten memories.
Two incidents spring to mind. We had climbed up a 10,000 ft mountain and just “crashed-out” on a grassy bank in front of the village. Exhaustion had taken its toll. Although their food supply was severely limited that year, in fact, a whole harvest had been lost through cultural pressures, when we awoke – we were surrounded with beautiful, tasty, refreshing fruits of all kinds. Generous gifts expressing their hospitality. Soon we were refreshed and strengthened ready for the night of rest in their newly constructed bamboo, guest house, before descending the next day. We will always remember the fruit bonanza we had up among the clouds.
On another occasion, the public transport we were using, a pick-up with tube-frame and canvas for shade, made it over a couple of mountain ridges and then stopped just before a bridge across a rapidly flowing mountain river. Stops are frequent and always fascinating. A variety of reasons precipitate them – in this case, the owner-driver of the “bus” had noticed some animals for sale. Just the kind he was looking for over the past weeks. Thus, our journey was interrupted, terminated and re-negotiated at that point. He needed to do a U-turn with his precious cargo. We needed to wait for an alternative service to appear at some unscheduled hour. It was near to sunset and the possibility of such transport was remote. The local village community welcomed us for a delicious meal and rest. Instant hospitality – generously provided. Later on, a government truck with some shift workers came by. I was able to negotiate with them to take me further along the road to their transit camp, where hospitality was offered for the night. The next morning, I found a farmer taking a cow to market; it was a huge lifeless black cow – the most luxurious leather seat ever experienced to that point. Soon we were hurtling along a dusty road to the junction at the foot of a mountain range, where I needed to change transport again. Such generous hospitality is a daily experience in that country. “You are most welcome, any time” is a common phrase.