Our power stayed out until Monday afternoon. Monday morning our generator broke so we were exceedingly happy that the power was restored. In the end the power company moved the cable that was hitting the corner of the building.
On Tuesday we woke up early and hit the road at 6:00 am to drive to the PNG border. One of our great MAF guys drove the car. We arrived at the border at 7:50 and had to wait for the Indonesian immigration officials to arrive. They zipped in on their motorbikes at 8:05 and Hugo and our MAF immigration guy headed in. Finally at 8:40 we drove to the actual border. It’s an imposing metal fence with armed soldiers guarding it. We walked through and went to the little PNG border post and filled in our arrival cards. By then we had to use the washroom rather urgently. The border officials were kind and let us use theirs. The sink was non-operational and there was no paper of course. In the meantime a taxi driver came and offered to take us to Vanimo. We paid extra to charter him. The taxi was a minibus with working ac (yay!!) and no seatbelts (not so yay…). We rocketed at speeds up to 100 km/hr along a two lane road hacked through the jungle. It was a spectacular drive along the coast and through the jungle. Our driver dropped us off at the Consulate at 10:45. They close at 12:00. PNG is one hour ahead of us here in Papua. The consulate was a rather unimpressive building. We were required to remain outdoors and speak to the official through an opening below a window. We had to fill in seven visa applications by hand. As it happened, Mikah’s telex (permission letter) hadn’t made it in. There are electrical and internet issues in Vanimo and the official was spectacularly unfriendly. We used a satphone to call our MAF people in Jakarta and they requested the telex be resent. In the meantime we were sweating and a tiny bit frantic. Then at 12:00 the locket was abruptly shut and locked. We were asked to leave and so we headed to the beach to eat our lunch. The beach while beautiful was rather trashy and seaweedy. Hugo needed to go to the bank to exchange money and I didn’t feel comfortable sitting on the beach with the kids. We were a bit of an attraction with our white skin, different colours of hair, and large backpacks. So we headed to the Sandaun Motel Cafe. They had a working toilet and sink, and expensive cokes and chips, amazing. At 1:55 Hugo returned unsuccessful due to a rather lengthy lineup at the bank and we made our way back to the consulate. This time we parked ourselves in front of the locket window and pleaded with the official to check for the telex again. He helped other folks in the meantime (including an Argentenian nun) and we left Mikah’s application and passport on the shelf in the window. Finally he told us to apply for a visitors visa for her. We got out the form and gave him the funds. A little while later he came to the window and said that he could give her a longer visa but we needed to pay the extra. Not sure what this meant exactly, but feeling a sense of desperation, we handed over the cash. Soon he came out to us with all our passports and Hugo signed for them. In the end he gave us all the same visa. Whew! Our original taxi guy had come and waited for us to be done and we piled in and headed to a foreign money exchange. We were able to exchange the necessary monies and we zipped back to the border. This time there were moments where we were going 120 km/hr. I asked the driver how many times a day he does the border run. “Around 6 times,” was his reply. He knows the road well. There were a few one lane railing-less bridges, and one spot where there was no bridge so we drove through the water. We arrived at the border with about 15 minutes to spare before closing. Amazing! We were met by our MAF driver and we headed over to the Indonesian immigration building, got our passports stamped and headed home. What an experience!
Then on Thursday we went to the immigration office in Jayapura where we were fingerprinted and photographed for our new visa. So thankful to have that done again!