CHAPTER III. SKETCHES OF PAPUAN LIFE.
Journey inland from Port Moresby—Evening with a chief—Savage life—Tree houses—Uakinumu—Inland natives—Native habits of eating—Mountain scenery—Upland natives—Return to Uakinumu—Drinking out of a bamboo—Native conversation—Keninumu—Munikahila—Native spiritists—Habits and influence of these men—Meroka—Kerianumu—Makapili—The Laroki Falls—Epakari—Return to Port Moresby.
In 1879, I made a long journey inland, in a north-easterly direction from Port Moresby. I visited many native villages, and explored the mountainous country along the course of and between the Goldie and Laroki rivers.
The reader will get some notion of the country, the natives, and their customs, from the following extracts taken from a journal kept at that time.
July 15_th_, 1879.—We left Port Moresby at half-past seven, reaching the Laroki at half-past eleven. We crossed in shallow water near to where the Goldie joins the Laroki. We had eighteen carriers, four of them women, who carried more than the men. After resting awhile at the Laroki we went on about three miles farther to Moumiri, the first village of the Koiari tribe of Port Moresby. On entering the village we took them by surprise; the women shouted and the men rushed to their spears. We called out, Mai, mai, mai (Peace, peace, peace), and, on recognizing who we were, they came running towards us with both hands outspread. We met the chief’s wife, and she led us up the hill, where there are a number of good native houses. It was shouted on before us that foreigners and Ruatoka had arrived, and down the hill the youths came rushing, shaking hands, shouting, and slapping themselves. We were received by the chief under the house, and there we had to sit for a very long time until his wife returned from the plantation with sugar-cane. Our carriers chewed large quantities of sugar-cane, got a few betel-nuts, and then set off on the return journey. We are now thirteen miles north-east from Port Moresby, 360 feet above sea-level, the thermometer 84 degrees in shade. The people are small, women not good-looking, and children ill-shaped. The Goldie runs at the base of the hill; the natives get water from it. The houses are very similar to those inland from Kerepunu. On the door hangs a bunch of nutshells, so that when the door is shut or opened they make a noise. Should the occupants of the house be asleep, and their foes come, they would, on the door being opened, be woke up. Spears and clubs are all handy.