[I’m recounting the important parts of the past month for posterity. Or something.]
As you might remember, Monday, March 14 we took a flight out of Houston to LA, and then travelled on to Brisbane overnight. One hop across the international dateline, and boom! It was Wednesday. (And I got to fly business class, which, on a 13-hour flight, is freaking magical.)
Our first order of business (after getting a shower and some coffee!) was to head to the office that was processing our PNG visas. Here we handed over our passports (a scary thing to do in a foreign country, in my opinion) and the stack of paperwork verifying that we had jumped through all their hoops (AIDS test, vaccinations, TB test, criminal background check etc.)
And then we waited.
Brisbane is a truly fantastic city so obviously I was rooting for this part of our adventure to take however long it needed to…I’d heard some people say it took them as long as two weeks. But no such luck for us. As promised, our passports were ready to be picked up the next day and we confirmed our flight to Port Moresby for Friday morning.
Thursday night we ate dinner at the fabulous little restaurant on the West End, Tukka, where they serve all sorts of crazy stuff like possum and crocodile. And thanks to that month we spent here last year, we have friends there now too! It’s no USA, but Brisbane sure is great.
We got up Friday morning, repacked our bajillion suitcases (we had to live out of whatever we took on the plane with us until our shipment arrived overseas) and headed to the airport. It wasn’t until we were through security and waiting at our gate that it really started to sink in.
Also we were flying there on the world’s tiniest commercial aircraft. It was crowded. And smelly.
The first thing that struck me was how truly bad the airplane smelled (to be fair, I’ve since flown with another airline that operates out of here and their plane smelled just fine.) Anyways, it smelled BAD. A friend of ours who’s been to POM for business had warned us about this—that deodorant just isn’t customary here—but still, it’s something you’re not used to.
I was almost in tears before we took off. It was the closest I’d been to wanting to blurt out “Wait! What are we doing!?” But I just tried to breathe. And I’m pretty sure I had a glass of wine too. Always helps : )
We’d been told beforehand to not be wearing any flashy jewelry, have a nice handbag, basically do anything to invite theft, so before we left I had zipped my purse into an obnoxiously large orange tote that I used as my carryon. I was an idiot and the only bag I brought with me was the Louis Vuitton I’d saved all my pennies for and had bought just a few weeks before we left. Smooth move, Jenn.
Because the plane was so small we walked out on the tarmac to get into the airport and wow was it HOT. We had only traveled 3 hours north (southern hemisphere now, north = hotter) but it was definitely a very noticeable difference. We made our way into the airport (it’s quite small—maybe 7 gates total?) and to the long, hot line for customs.
I’d packed an entire massive suitcase full of things like shampoo, conditioner, the Clinique stuff I’m addicted to—and was a little worried some of it might get confiscated or penalized for duties, but it was smooth sailing.
After making it through getting our bags checked we headed out and were greeted by someone from the company, where we were told we’d get the scoop on what happened next.