Max and Tami Island

By: Josh Jones – Healing Seekers Sound Director and Photographer
Originally Published: North Carolina Zoo – Field Trip Earth


On our trip to Papua New Guinea we came across several individuals who gave up their beds and even some who shared what little food they had with us. But none were so accommodating and engaging in conversation as Max.

Max, a former national Rugby player, joined together with his family and community to build a sustainable hybrid of hotel and campground to cater to traveling tourists. The nice people in his village played music, and later danced in the dress and style of The Goroka Show for us. But the most amazing part of the stay with these wonderful people was the moomoo. Envision a pit dug out in the ground, filled with hot stones and banana leaves; then, an entire pig and potatoes are added and cooked for over an hour.

North Carolina Zoo - Field Trip EarthIn preparation for this dinner event, the people in the village chose one of their prize pigs to feed us. Since I have always been interested in seeing the killing practices of animals in other countries, I photographed the slaughter. Many people in the United States don’t know how animals are killed so that we can eat meat at dinnertime. The killing and cleaning process was swift, taking only about 30 minutes.

Later that night the community fed us the pig and vegetables they had prepared. For a few moments I forgot I was in another country. Max created an environment of friendship, family and community. I for one felt closely connected to the people in that Mid-Highland village. For me, travel isn’t about facts and tours of places everyone sees; rather, it’s about special connections made with individuals. People like Max should be rewarded for their efforts in education and creating opportunities for his community.

Tami Island

Celine Cousteau and her cameraman, Capkin Van Alphen, joined us on the first leg of our trip. We all visited a remote island previously occupied by Americans during World War II. Celene and Capkin went out to shoot some underwaster footage of sea life, so I followed behind with a snorkel.

I never made it as far out to sea as they did that day. I was completely captivated by the fish and other sea life I came in contact with the second I dunked my head under the surface of the water. Clown fish darted in and out of the reef while the suns rays created shafts of light in the water. Swimming through the water, I could feel sections of warm and cold water. With very little pollution or trash floating in the crystal clear waters, it felt like taking a step back in time. Seeing what things could be like when people respect and take care of their environment was eye opening. I would like to formally thank Celene and Capkin for leading me to water so I could drink in the scenery that lied beneath.

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