Superiority complex. What is a superiority complex exactly? We had a conversation with a lovely couple as we were sailing away from Papua New Guinea the other day. It was a conversation about Papua New Guinea and the many trials it has faced in its time as a young nation. The gentleman was saying to us and his wife, “people walk around pretending to be better than others because they’re from places like Australia and The USA and The United Kingdom—when in actuality, they just got lucky. How true this is. NONE of us chose or were able to choose where we were born. Yet so many of us look down at others from foreign places as if they’re less than us. Because of what? That is the question to ask: Why do we think less of others based on where they are from, what their religion is, their socio-economic background, religion, skin color, sexuality—you name it. If it is indeed a fact that we cannot choose where we come from, why do we always blame people for it? In my view, we do this under the guise of an unfounded superiority complex. We had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in Papua New Guinea and what an interesting place it is. We were warned that it wasn’t nice. We were told the locals were hostile and of course that’s it’s unsafe and stricken with poverty. The roads aren’t paved. Dust covers my computer screen as I write because without air conditioning in our vehicle as it passes down a bumpy dirt road, the windows must remain open because it is quite stifling otherwise. There is no sanitation and it smells of burnt garbage, because there is nothing else to do with it. Rant coming: I’m so tired of Westerners comparing everything else to what they have. So many come to developing or impoverished nations and complain there are bumpy roads or there isn’t espresso or soy milk available. What do they expect? So many forget to remember the context. So many don’t even bother to put themselves in the shoes of the locals. There is a ton of poverty here. But who cares? Why are we constantly judging people because of what they DON’T have? It’s as if it doesn’t look like some glittering suburb of The United States, it’s not good enough. The locals were beautiful and lovely. They were helpful, friendly, and hospitable. They wanted to wave hello and give us a King’s welcome. They were giddy, even–at the sight of us. On our journey from the hotel to the ship, my backpack fell out of the van window. Yes- completely fell out. The transport van was stacked full of luggage from four entertainers. James and I having eight pieces of luggage to ourselves. We were driving around 30 miles an hour at this point. In the backpack had all of my medications, two passports which I travel with, laptop computer, hard drives, archived files of our shows technical elements. My whole life is essentially in there. Some locals selling rice and fruit on the side of the road spotted it and ran after the driver. The drive then stopped the vehicle, grabbed the bag from the locals hands and much Timmy surprise, handed it to me. I wasn’t even aware it had happened. These people have nothing but the clothes on their backs, a makeshift house and the produce they may or may not sell for the day. They could have not said anything, and kept the backpack-selling its contents for thousands of much needed Kina (the local currency). You would see this scenario amongst the more fortunate in New York, Los Angeles, London–any number of places. But here in the “dreadful” country, the locals were honest and eager to help me.
The rich, volcanic soil that is in abundance in Papua New Guinea makes for the freshest produce you can imagine. I found that guavas, coconuts, and avocados in particular were heavenly. We stayed at The Charming Kokopo Beach Bungalow Resort. We had beautiful meals of local fish and curry and vegetables. In the morning, they had a gorgeous breakfast spread and made the most delicious coffee.
One thing I did find unusual is the locals chew Beetlenut which stains their teeth and makes their mouths quite red. It’s outlawed to smoke and chew Beetlenut in airports, plans and public areas. For anyone who is curious- here is what it is and how to chew it. I know I’ve written many times about places and scenarios such as these. And to be honest most of these underdeveloped nations looks very similar. With all that said, I really wish people had the inclination to visit places and experience the beauty and culture firsthand before they decide to pass judgments. Most would rather sit at the Marriott they know in Hawaii and collect hotel points. What happened to peoples sense of adventure? Papua New Guinea is unique and should not be missed.