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Wednesday, September 10, 2003

September 10, 2003-Misma

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Bwagoia Town, Misma Island, The Louisiades

The big town in these parts is Bwagaoia Town on Misima Island. Most people just call the town Misima, dispensing with Bwagoia name altogether, but if you want to say Bwagoia, you say it "Baw Gaw Wah". Bwagoia is the customs and immigration clearance port mainly because of the substantial gold mine there, the operation of which results in a lot of traffic in and out of the country. But since it is a clearance port it is convenient for the yachts which come to Papua New Guinea to visit the Lousiades to clear in and out here. Actually, without the availability of Misima most yachts wouldn't come Papua New Guinea at all, or they would do it without checking in because there is no other port anywhere near. Going to one of the mainland ports, besides exposing yourself to a crime problem, means you'd have to beat upwind in the trade wind belt to get to the Lousiades, or if you stayed and cruised the mainland, then you'd have a beat back to Australia. Neither choice is to inviting to most cruising yachts. Anyhow, Misima makes the Lousiades possible for us.

The other side of the coin is that without the requirement to check in and out at Misima, most yachts wouldn't bother coming there either. They’d just bring what they expected to need from Australia, and when the food ran out they’d go back.

We, on the other hand, rather liked Misima despite the fact that it's pretty much a dreary place and the weather is generally bad and most of what we needed to buy wasn't available anyhow. But there are several stores there and we did find a lot of what we wanted. We restocked provisions with what we could, buying rice and flour and canned tuna, etc, the normal stuff you find in these island stores, plus beer and liquor. But the treat was fresh bread. We visited the bakery nearly every day for some small loaves which looked and tasted like out favorite "bollios" from Mexico.

Bwagoia itself is a few dozen buildings on a flat, dusty, piece of ground next to the brown water of an inlet on the east end of Misima Island. There are three beat up piers next to town usually with a few equally beat up island traders tied to them. The yachts anchor a 100 yards off, and dingy to shore. When you walk into town from the wharf you find it full of Papua New Guineans, mostly chewing Betel Nut and watching the white people. There is a produce market, where you can buy Betel, and sometimes some other produce, and there they laugh when you speak to them. There are some roads out of town and some businesses on them, but right in town there are two large Korean owned, general stores, with certain canned goods like tuna and spam, dry goods, a cooler for pop and butter and eggs, and a freezer for a small selection of frozen meats and a smattering of fresh produce. But you could also get bikes, a little hardware, clothing, batteries, film (although I never saw a camera), pots and pans, electronics, and probably a lot more that we never really looked into. For my part, I needed a new watch, having foolishly broken my last one trying to dry it out after snorkeling with it once too often. (Too bad too, because it had five alarms which I used to remind me of the five weather fax times every day). Well, anyhow, I needed a new one, which was impossible if I was looking for an exact replacement, but I did find some alarm watches for about $7. I bought two.
Plus there is the bakery, a couple of smaller general stores, three liquor stores, (but we only found two of them) a fuel depot, and a couple of second clothing stores.

Up the hill there are the government offices, a hotel (called a guest house) a hospital, the communications station with a massive satellite dish, the high school, a satellite TV company, a car repair shop. I think you get the idea. We took some walks around town, mostly on the dusty roads, or we hung out at the hotel where you could get a cold beer.

That’s Misima.

Click here to see all the photos From the Louisiades

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Misma, The Louisiades

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