Never could I have imagined a birthday quite like this one. We are at the Karawari Lodge in Karawari, Papua New Guinea. We are quite literally in the middle of nowhere. We are so far off the grid, that we flew in by chartered four passenger twin prop plane, which landed on a very short grass airstrip, and the only way to get out of here is a two-day trek by boats and cars through the mountains…as I said, literally middle of nowhere. We were met by a ton of the children from the Yimus Tribe. What they really wanted was to see for their own eyes were the pale faces and light eyes of Brooke and Brayden. Everywhere we went the children (truly hundreds of naked little kids, with no shoes or clothing) followed Brooke and Brayden around, just to see them or be near them. Sadly, we were so foreign to one little baby, that he chased after his mother hysterically crying and as our guide told us, we were scaring him, as he had never seen anything like us.
Today, we planned a full day excursion visiting more of the local villages, but not before my sweet little family crawled in bed with me, serenaded me and shared their birthday wishes for me. Already, my wishes had come true.
The villages of Karawari are said to be very peaceful with one another, unlike some of the other villages we visited in Tari. The Huli Wig clans are not feuding day to day, but do engage in clan wars over things like pigs. Uh huh…pigs (in fact 10 people died in a clan feud over pigs, just five miles from our lodge only 6 weeks ago). As Brooke mentioned, pigs are the main source of currency, since they provide families an abundance of nourishment. So, they are worth the clan wars…um, I guess.
However, if we are going to get down to the historical details of the clans, the Karawari were not always as friendly as they are these days. Just 50 years ago, the men of the Karawari villages participated in, and trained their boys as headhunters in efforts to gain more land, power and food. We also confirmed the frightening fact that as recent as only the 1960‘s, they engaged in cannibalism for sustenance…yikes! We’re thankful for fish, possum and birds to give them what they need these days.
Some of the other activities the villagers participate in are wood carving, jewelry making and weaving. Primarily, these villages live off the land and resources around them, but rely on sourcing cocoa beans, sago and fish that they use as trade with other villages. We were able to watch one of the “Fish Dances” they perform as a way to invite the Gods into their village to encourage the abundance of fish. The experience we had at each of these villages was unique and something that we all find unforgettable.
The night ended with a very special surprise birthday celebration back at the Karawari Lodge. Brad, Brayden and Brooke shared their homemade cards with me and shared with me their “favorite things about Mamma”. I’m a lucky gal to have these special souls in my life everyday and especially right now traipsing around the world, sharing the most amazing, life changing experience.
But, that was not all…Right after dinner, the lights went out and I actually thought the Lodge generator gave out, but it was the start of the party. Everyone there sang “happy birthday” to me and brought me a beautiful homemade cake. Moments later, after the lights went back on, the Karawari Bamboo Band came to perform for us. They are called the Karawari Bamboo Band, because the epicenter of the band is the drum set made from 5 sets of bamboo trees, hollowed out to different openings. One of the members of the band beats the bamboo with pads to make the music. There were guitarists, members holding large seeds on the end of sticks that made a cymbal-type sound and flutes made from hollowed out bamboo as well. These instruments made some of the most beautiful sounds I have truly ever heard. At one point, they called me into the center of them, crowned me with a beaded headdress, decorated my chair with bamboo leaves and serenaded me with the birthday song our guide, Paul had taught them a few days ago. It went something like this…
Happy Birthday, Brandy
Happy Birthday, to you, to you
Happy Birthday, Brandy
Happy Birthday, to you, to you
UNREAL! Such a special birthday. Thank you Karawari Lodge, our guide, Paul, our Epic Journeys amazing friend, Pedro, I am sure Sam had something to do with this and mostly to my beautiful family. I am grateful for your love each and every day. Here’s a video Brad pieced together of some of the magical night:
Happy birthday,Brandy! That looks like a celebration you won’t forget! Love and hugs to y’all!!
Now just how do you reply to such a birthday adventure as that…what an amazing day, Brandy…I couldn’t be happier for you…Happy, happy birthday!! Nania
Such a wonderful experience! Only wished we could have seen you dance to the music! Brooke would have been fantastic with her natural ability. Happy Birthday my dearest friend.
Love you all so much!
Feliz Cumpleanos a ti ???? and many more, have a wonderful time, te amo ❤️
Happiest Belated Birthday to my most amazing friend. As I was thinking about the Stroh’s adventure – as I VERY frequently do I logged on to StrohWorld to find this amazing video. It made my heart swell to see you so happy and loved – even in the middle of nowhere (but actually somewhere amazingly special as I learned from both Brooke and Brayden!). I wish I could have been there as a surprise guest – I’m sure I could play a mean bamboo drum….maybe a rendition of “What A Man” by Salt & Pepper in your honor? OK – I will stop….but just know I am thinking and constantly checking up on the Stroh clan sending very far away hugs and kisses. xo
Happy Birthday!!!! From all five of us!
Happy Birthday Brandy! We are thinking of you. I’m amazed… best party ever. love from angie (&joe)
Wow, what an amazing experience! This is a birthday you will never forget. I thought about you all day on your birthday and wondered what you were up to. I certainly never imagined this 🙂 LOVE YOU!!!