It was our last market day in Oro Bay, a Saturday morning, my mind was busy planning our next move and my body just wanted sleep but I thought we’d give the market a last go to get some much needed fresh fruits!
The market in Oro Bay is… well a typical PNG Market…
Let me explain. A large amount of mamas prepare their crops (all types of garden fruits and vegetables: squash, green beans, green leafies, kaukau/sweet potatoes, taro, cooking bananas and sweet bananas, coconuts, oranges, papaya, if you’re lucky pineapple…) and they also bake (that can be flat bread, fried flour balls, sago or fish).
The market is held in an open field on the side of the road and the grass is usually kept short by machetes and human power. The market in Oro Bay has been flooded or at least swampy half the times I’ve ever been. The mamas find a dry patch, sit on the ground and lay their good on a bag or a piece of tarp on the ground. Buyers walk through the mud from one mama to the next.
Markets are held Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Saturdays are the bigger market days. Some mamas walk down the mountains for many hours to come sell their crops and others to buy. Needless to say, on Saturdays, the town is filled with people from different villages.
I can’t remember what we got at the market that day… all I remember is one of my teammates wanting to get a coconut drink right before leaving. As we were paying for the coconut, I noticed a lady starring at us. I thought, “Of course, this is PNG… she must not have seen many white people!” As we were leaving, she walked towards me, extended her hand and said: “I am Leoni”, and as she pointed to her baby in her arms, I recognized Leoni and I said: “Baby Angelica!” She was so big and healthy and pretty!!!
Turns out baby Angie had a little cough and her mother took the opportunity of the market day to go to the Hospital and get her baby checked. Once they finished at the hospital, she made her way to the market. And such a good surprise for all of us as we met just a little over one year after baby Angelica’s birth!
(If you’d like to read more about baby Angelica’s birth, click Here)
Just a few days prior, I was booking our flights to Tufi and felt disappointed and sad that I hadn’t seen baby Angie. I was wondering if she had made it to her 1st birthday. Neonatal deaths are so common in PNG and the frightening possibility of her not making it thus far was very present in my mind.
Imagine the relief and joy in my heart to see baby Angie! Knowing that all the efforts during the birth, the struggles to keep her alive and all the prayers had not been in vain. Two days later, we flew out of Oro Bay, but my heart was settled, I was at peace. I knew that my little girl had made it through the first and most difficult year.