I applied for a job in Papua New Guinea recently. It would be a dream to work there, but it can be an intimidating place (in parts). New Guinea is the second biggest island in the world (after Greenland. No, Australia is not an island, its a continent) and has some of the richest marine and terrestrial biodiversity in the world. Papua New Guinea alone has more than 800 languages! But it is poor and corrupt and some areas have high levels of violence.
To prepare for the interview I read two books about the island. Savage Harvest, by Carl Hoffman, is the story of the death of Micheal Rockefeller and the author’s quest to find out if he had drown (as reported) or was eaten (as many suspected). Throwim Way Leg is the story of Tim Flannery’s (who has described more species than Darwin did!) early adventures and explorations of the mammals of New Guinea. He documented animals in areas no other scientist had been to all while battling tough field conditions, vermin, and disease.
Both authors describe how tough the island can be. But through all the stories of hardship there is an underlying beauty of the people and the landscapes that still attracts me. But, in the end, I don’t think I got the job….. so, it will just remain a dream. Good books though!