17 October, 2012
One good thing was that I got to drive the truck! All the kids from Ukarumpa International School (Secondary Campus) were coming back from their annual high school retreat, ("Encounter" for those of you who have been here and experienced it), and since the bridge was closed we needed a large vehicle to carry all their bags and stuff back. Some of the more adventurous boys asked if they could ride in the back.
15 October, 2012
So if you are following things that are happening in this area in other blogs, you may already be familiar with the Saga of the Kingston Bridge in Kainantu, and can go look at other stuff. For the rest of you:
What we locally refer to as the "Kingston Bridge" is a WWII style Bailey Bridge. Nothing wrong with that, Bailey bridges are a good design; strong and fairly easily built, They were designed to be erected while under fire in battlefield situations, but they were never really intended to be permanent structures. According to at least one reliable source in the Aiyura Valley, the Kingston Bridge has been there since 1962, if not earlier. I can tell you that int he 10 years that I have lived here, it has received very little maintenance, (cleaning, painting, that sort of thing), and as a result it is well and truly rusting away. In many places you can use a stick to poke holes through what were once thick steel beams and girders. Here's a typical example:
So what, right? So there's an old bridge that should be replaced, big deal, right? Yeah, actually it is kind of a big deal, as this bridge is part of the only way in and out for some major organisations in the Aiyura Valley, including, but not limited to: the National Agricultural Research Institute, Aiyura National High School, the Coffee Reasearch Institute, the Summer Institute of Linguistics main translation centre at Ukarumpa, and Colbrans Coffeelands, just to name a few. All of these organisations rely heavily on the Kingston Bridge, and in fact several of them need there to be a good bridge in place in order to get heavy trucks in and out of the area.
We have tried to come up with various solutions to the bridge problem, including the idea of building a ford, but local landowners are very careful with their land and have proven to be difficult to work with. They are also part of the reason why a new bridge has not been built yet.
So instead we and/or the local Works Department keep patching up this bridge, hoping that one day a way will be found to put in a new bridge. Recently, the local Works Department completed some major repairs on the bridge, but now, a week later, it is already starting to deteriorate again. So that makes me go "Ugh! The bridge!"
In other news, I am taking on more and more managerial duties at the workshop. Part of me doesn't mind too much, as management needs to happen and I don't have a problem making decisions when they need to be made, but part of me hates it, because there's still nobody else here to do the work I came here to do, (motorcycles/small engines), and so while I am being assistant manager of the workshop, motorcycle and small engine jobs pile up. Also being a mangerial assistant means that I get lots more phone calls and have to deal with the public more often than I used to, which means lots of interruptions during the day, which means that a 20 minute job can end up taking 3 or 4 hours. So that makes me go, "ugh. Management."
Ugh. Can I end this on a brighter note? Hmmmm. Heidi's 8th tooth is finally coming in! After months of having only 7 teeth, the missing number 8 is finally showing up, so that's nice. Oh, I've lost 75 lbs. now since January, that's nice, too. My goal is to lose at least 100 lbs., possibly more, we'll see how it goes. I owe a lot of credit to my lovely wife, who has managed to come up with a PNG adaptation of the South Beach diet. Thanks, dear!