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Monday, June 23, 2014

If you don’t like the weather, just...

At home Julie’s almost first question each day is “what is the temperature”, followed by “what’s the weather going to be like today.” She starts each day here with the same questions. It doesn’t matter that we’re on the other side of the world without The Weather Channel, our smartphones or weather forecasts posted in the local paper. In fact I would have doubted that there was any weather service in the whole country of Papua New Guinea except that our Aviation department seems to get information from somewhere.

John Allen, our missionary friend in a remote village in Gulf Province who we visited on the way into PNG, had 610 kg of supplies that needed to be flown in today. Our pilots didn’t know if they would be able to land at his nearby airstrip because weather always closes in unexpectantly. John asked Jason to run to the top of the mountain separating his village from the airstrip and look at several distant mountains and report back by cell phone. Able to see these mountains clear enough and seeing that things were improving, Jason told John who convinced the pilots it was okay to head John’s way. So much for weather forecasting.


Typical early morning weather
So, where do I turn when I want to know what the weather is like? I turn and look in four directions (five if you count looking up). What I see invariably every morning are low, gray clouds hugging the mountains less than a mile away that form the Aiyura valley. The day either stays cloudy with no-so-high clouds, or it burns off into a beautiful day. Well, at least until afternoon when dark gray, angry clouds always appear suddenly over the mountains and everyone wonders if it will rain. You have to take a clue from the native when they carry an umbrella with them everywhere every day!

Actually, rain is considered good since each building’s potable water tanks collect rain water for drinking, cooking, showering and, if there’s enough, washing clothes (to keep them white). The alternative is using water from the nearby river, but it’s brown-ish and requires boiling before use.


So, if I don’t like the weather I’ve gotten used to the past month+, how about introducing the onset of winter when there’s no heating in the apartment? And how about trying to shower or wash dishes using solar heated water when there’s been no “solar” all week? And, just to make a change, how about a deluge that I have to walk to work in with streams running down the dirt roads, so that I arrive at work soaked from the waist down?

  
We're in a pretty active area (click to enlarge)
And, if you want something a bit different, how about an earthquake. We awoke around 4 am today (Monday) to a bed shaking, building swaying, 5.4 earthquake centered about 35 miles east of us.

Maybe it’ll snow tomorrow… (just kidding)