Clive, little Clive and I rested the next day and enjoyed the beautiful gardens and setup at Panam. At night the generator was switched on as people converged to watch the Eel films by Clive Porabou. People agreed in solidarity with the no more mining message. The following day Thomas and the boys took us to the waterfalls and the Pangara River.
They had told us about the waterfalls but I had no idea what I was about see. It was up to an hour’s walk down the track and we came to another beautiful village of which Thomas was Chief. It had the same style of beautiful labyrinth gardens with coconut husk raised beds.
We got an interview with village women landowner about the setup and why it was important to bring tourist in to share this amazing place and protect it from the threat of further mining. So we walked down a steep slippery track and arrived at another garden setup overlooking the amazing waterfall. When we got down the bottom I was awestruck at the beauty of the crystal clear water and vibrant waterfall.
It flowed from the main pond into a steep crevice of deep pools. The kids excitedly jumped in the main pool and attempted to swim against the flowing force of the waterfall radiating out into the pool. The older boys jumped in and managed to get under the falling water and then clamber up the almost vertical rock face defying gravity as they got into a position many metres above to jump back down into the deep pool.
I jumped in and had a go as one of the boys helped me up the steep slippery rock face. Without his help I would not have climbed up there on my own, but the jump back down into the pool was a real buzz. After swimming and playing a while we walked down to where Thomas would meet us, past many food gardens to the Pangara River. The Panagara River is the second largest river in Bougainville as it flows up from the South.
We swam in the rapids of this huge river as Thomas and his daughter washed the Tapioca, Singapore and sweet potato harvested in their nearby garden. When I realised they were about to carry their 20kg bag of washed vegies up the steep slippery slope to the village I was very impressed at the strength and determination of these village people whose work ethic is amazing and as tough as they come.
I would like to see most of the people I know in Australia try and do this daily task without whingeing and complaining all the way up the hill. Our Stay at Panam Village Nagovis was an amazing experience, when I left Katherine gave me a traditional bed matt made from local plant material, which is great because the floor I sleep on was getting hard. The Family of Thomas his wife Katherine his sons Dennis and Jeffery are wonderful people doing amazing things for their community and for the greater cause in Bougainville. I would love very much to visit their guesthouse in the future and highly recommend any tourist visiting the Autonomous Region of Bougainville to visit the Alewora project, Panam Village Nagovis.
Contact Thomas Simba on +67573128181 to book your Stay at “Alewora” Panam Village, Nagovis Central Bougianville.
Story By Daniel Jones for Eel Films and Mekamui News 10/1/2013