Sunday, 29 January 2006


New Tribes! This is the strange, cult-like compound of several hundred religious americans down the road from Goroka. I've posted about them before, but only driven past their hideout. Yesterday, however, we drove INSIDE. For a garage sale.

It’s quite pretty; big houses on a hillside, views of mountains, no fences. The houses don’t look like much from the outside but the insides were impressive – polished light wooden floor boards, sloping ceilings, big kitchens, open plan living areas. We went past a sundae parlour (American style sundaes, but closed on weekends), and sadly were too early for the skate night (held in the high school gym that night for the kids; roller skates! Burgers and fries!). We went straight to the garage sales: three families had gone pinis (finished their time in png); they left behind whole households full of stuff for the next occupants, who had decided that they didn’t want most of it. (Note: this is the first ever garage sale I have heard about up here; going to one is not a typical Satuday activity.)

And what stuff! It was nice weird mix, just as you hope New Tribes will be. For instance, women’s pads for sale – not in original box but in a freezer bag?!! Gross. Freshly made bagels. A shelf of books under the title “For Christians Going Through Hard Times”. Battleship. A potato-cutting-chip-device (friend bought this). A grater (I bought this). Loads of kitschy ornaments, Tupperware, old scuba gear, crocheted rugs, Christmas decorations and a giant fake tree in a box.

Almost everyone else was a whiteskin, but we still felt self-conscious. “Everyone can tell we’re not Christians” someone said. And it was true. People stared as we drove up, stared as we got out of the car, and simply continued to stare. We were also the only people without American accents. “Hi you!!” women kept calling out. “Mom…” At one house there were two young men talking seriously out on the balcony; I stopped to re-tie my shoelaces (ever the sleuth) and listened: they were talking about a conversion! “So he came to me later, when the others had left, and asked me about the selection for heaven: being a righteous believer was the requirement, was that right?” The other guy made an interested sound. “Yes, he’s really a step ahead of the others, he’s thinking things through.” Hmmmm.

Other weird things: everything was priced in American dollars. They had to convert to kina when we wanted to buy stuff. (Um, we’re actually in PNG right now…) There were a few cars around, but people kept zooming up to the sales on motorbikes and golf buggies (left-hand steering) – oh and this thing (left; see the sale items purchased tied to the front and back).

I bought a souvenir, for US$1.

No comments: