Our guide Chris is from the Karawari region. He is also a Yoakim and a master carver from his village Manjamai. He’s been able to provide pretty unique insight to the region since his grandfather was a Yoakim warrior and cannibal. It is not everyday that you get to hear those stories. He explained that the Kamangabi, the local “art,” is actually used as a guide to help the warriors figure out the location of the enemies. We bought one from our guide’s village – his uncle was the master carver that made it. It is that intimacy with the artist that makes this area so unique.
We visited two other villages (both with basketball courts I might add) – one, Gonmai, another Yoakim village, along the Gonmai River, a tributary to the Karawari, and then a Karim village, Yimas, a bit further down the Karawari. The Karim welcomed us with a dance dedicated to helping them with the fish catch. It was kind of indescribable in words, but hopefully the pictures below do it some justice.
Gonmai was fascinating. It was probably the most remote place that I’ve ever been. They had a newly built Haus Tambaram, or Spirit House, that they were completing as we were there. The columns were being painted and there was even scaffolding on the outside. It was beautiful. They had an absolutely breathtaking Garamut drum inside that our guide offered to help me negotiate, but Ms. Cupcake made me decline. It weighed 50+ pounds and would have cost a fortune to ship, but it was one of the most beautiful pieces I have ever seen. What a mistake. All I can think about it is how badly I wish that I’d purchased that drum.
|The garamut drum in the Haus Tambaram|
We are off to the Sepik on the Sepik Spirit cruise tomorrow. It was the part of the trip that I had been most looking forward to. However, coming to the Karawari was extremely unique. It is partly the same as the Sepik region we will see tomorrow, but also very different with its Kamangabi and cannibals. Chris put forth a lot of passion in guiding us – explaining the local culture, finding the 12-wire bird of paradise and a beautiful hornbill at 6am on a deserted river bank and ensuring that we bought the best Kamangabi. It is very, very important that I know where to find my enemies – like Ms. Cupcake for making me leave the drum behind.
|Woman fishing. Women spend so much time in their canoes that they have little fires that they use to cook food on board.|
The evening ended with Jack, our extremely dedicated and lovely waiter at Karawari Lodge, bringing us a few glasses of his patented lemonade with a secret ingredient. While we sipped on our heavenly drink, the Karawari Bamboo Band, a band from the Karim village of Yimas that we visited earlier in the day, played PNG tunes on PNG instruments. They banged on bamboo with flip-flops while wearing their Karim dress and beating their kudu drums. It was awesome. It was the perfect end to the day.
|Karawari Bamboo Band|
|A kookaburra dancing to the music|