It was 1am in the morning and we had finally arrived in Lae Morobe Province after traveling 11 hours from Madang Province across the rugged Madang Ramu Highway on a Toyota 15 seater PMV named “Tear Drops”. I had seen better days when we clocked 4 hours. This trip had taken almost 11 hours. The Madang Ramu Highway had deteriorated into a bush track.
Anyway, I was on my return trip back to the Mine Site where I worked and came to Lae, Morobe Province which is my point of hire and to catch a Plane back to Porgera. You can just imagine seated in a fully loaded 15 seater Public Motor Vehicle with stinky passengers and a loud drunkard preaching non-stop over the mobile phone to his folks back home. He was a big, white bearded person with a pot belly and a deep voice. I was feeling tired, fatigued and all I wanted to do right then was to stop over and stretch out.
After dropping off some passengers around the safe zones in Lae City; to my surprise, the drunkard School Principal suddenly started bossing the driver of the bus to visit places around Lae city so that he could catch up with his friends with the possibility of getting more grog. One of those places was way outside the safe zone especially at 1 am in the morning. The driver obediently followed instructions because he had been bribed a share of the beer plus he had drank 7 cans of beer along the way.
There were four of us remaining on the bus apart from the drunk man . We agreed to sleep it out in the bus for safety sake until day break and then transit. However, to our amazement, we headed right into Nawae Block and onto a bush road with shrubs and tall grass ushering us into the dark. Nawae Block is a settlement known for breeding notorious criminals. Recently there were ethnic fights in the area and we had only learned of the 62 inmates breaking out of Jail at Buimo Correctional Services earlier during the day. If those inmates needed a place to hide, this was a good place and what a better opportunity then a bus that they could get away in.
Thoughts of being robbed at gun point and being slaughtered in the bushes started to creep in. I was not afraid, maybe it was the fatigue. I was preparing for a fight and if something did happen, the first person I was going to hit was that loud mouth school teacher.
To cut the story short, we devised a plan with the driver to abandon the drunken school Principal and drive away. The plan was successful and at 3 am in the morning I was safely stretching inside the bus on one of the seats. I can still remember the expression on the drunkards face when he realized that we were deserting him. It looked something like this: