Papua New Guinea (PNG) has always been near the top of our list of highly biodiverse hotspots on Planet Earth. With over 5% of the world’s biodiversity, including more than 800 species of coral, 750 species of birds, and 20,000 higher plants, PNG is home to countless species of life which are found nowhere else in the world. A great additional lure for Healing Seekers involves the diversity of its cultures. With over 800 languages, it is considered to be the most heterogeneous country in the world. It is also is home to at least 40 un-contacted tribes.
Papua New Guinea’s rough and rugged terrain has made it difficult to build roads and therefore, access to many regions is almost impossible. Reliance upon small planes, dirt air strips and small boats is the norm. Tough and dependable off-road vehicles are mandatory for any land travel. This complex terrain continues to provide isolation for many indigenous people, not only from other indigenous tribes but from much of the outside world. Yet, like everywhere on Planet Earth, slow encroachment of western civilization is creeping into the cultures, the land, and the traditions. Change is inevitable, and yet in situations concerning indigenous cultures and pristine environments, one must be especially careful as the consequences may be devastating. Healing Seekers strives to better understand our role as we serve others, careful and aware of the responsibility entrusted to us as we continue to place high priority on reciprocity with conscious collaborations.
Our team traveled immensely, traveling for days to get to the areas we had planned. It was without a doubt the most time we have ever spent in SUVs, boats, and planes. Our journey included many hours in off road vehicles, including 10 hour drives on some of the bumpiest, pounding, jarring roads. We had 5 hour boat rides sitting in the bottom of an aluminum skiff, crossing a section of the ocean with spine shattering blasts from the rough seas tossing the boat. Somehow we continued to laugh and soak up the experience. When we did arrive at our destinations, what we discovered were some of the most beautiful people, exciting treatments, and outstanding traditions. The permission to capture it all with spectacular footage was a most beautiful privilege.
Our Healing Seekers team was very honored to be joined on this expedition by our friends, Celine Cousteau (conservationist, film maker and granddaughter of legendary oceanaut, Jacques Cousteau) and Capkin van Alphen (underwater diver extraordinaire, videographer, and Cousteau crew member). To explore and discover with Celine and Capkin made the journey and our project even more special. (And I was personally thrilled that for the first time in my life I did not get sea-sick on any water voyage, especially since we were with Celine and Capkin. )
We learned so many things, like the fact that the villages in PNG do not have the typical medicine man, medicine woman, or healer like we have encountered in other areas of the world. Instead, a village may have one person who only treats one or maybe two conditions or diseases. This is more likened to our doctors who specialize, rather than having a family doctor who treats many different things. It was quite a pleasant surprise.
This trek, like past expeditions, included little sleep. We not only spent many hours and days traveling, we also lost many hours awakening at 3 and 4am to catch our small planes or to get on the road, and then there were the hours lost fighting off certain critters throughout the nights, such as rats and cockroaches. Although our love for nature and the natural world continues to grow, we still prefer not to sleep with certain life forms.
Expedition Team: Esteban Barrera, Director of Videography, Co-Producer, still photographer; Josh Jones, Sound Director, Co-Producer, still photographer; John James, Team Scientist/Researcher, second unit sound, still photographer; Amy Greeson, Team Leader, Host, Researcher.