George and Elliana in Papua New Guinea

George was looking out the front window, peering outside onto the green grass as a red robin flitted by. Suddenly his little sister giggled. George turned around to face her. “Oh Elliana!” he exclaimed. “Here, look at this plane.” And he picked up a wooden toy plane. “Whoosh!” He flew the plane up, up and away into the air. “We’re going to fly away into an adventure.” And sure enough they did.

They were going off to a tropical country with a beautiful coral sea and lush tropical rainforest. As George peered out the aeroplane window, his mother explained that they were going to a country called Papua New Guinea. He waved his hand to the sky as the plane took off! It lifted up into the sky far above the houses and rooftops below. Pretty soon, all he could see were white fluffy clouds as the plane glided through them. After a while, George got tired of sitting in his seat. He looked over at his mummy. “Would you like to colour, George?” she asked. He nodded. She took out some crayons and a colouring book and he started to colour a parrot. He coloured red wings, a blue belly and a black beak. “Look Mummy!” he exclaimed. He turned to Elliana. “Look at my parrot, Elliana.” It was a red and blue parrot. “Good, George.” said Elliana as she reached for the crayons. George smiled. He was happy.

After what seemed a long time, several naps and meals on the plane and many storybooks read, the pilot announced over the loudspeaker that everyone had to fasten their seatbelts and remain seated. George obeyed. He knew it was important. After a while the plane started its descent. He looked out the window and saw forests of trees with a large winding river flowing between. As the plane continued on, a large city opened up before him. There were houses, roads and cars. Here we are!” said his mother. “The capital city, Port Moresby.”

George and Elliana soon settled into their new home in the tropics. They had ceiling fans that let in the breeze. One afternoon as George was playing in the front garden, a little girl and boy stopped by. “Hello!” they said. “We were going for a walk with our parents. Can we play?” George’s dad smiled. “Of course.” he said. “But stay in the garden.” It was a huge garden with a lawn surrounded by a hibiscus flower hedge and dotted with tall trees. Suddenly, George heard a loud “SQUAWK!” “What’s that?” he exclaimed. Looking up above them they spotted red and blue feathers. “That’s the parrot I coloured!” he said.
“It’s an eclectus parrot. Girl parrots are always red and blue in colour.” said the little boy, Peter.
The parrot looked at them with a twinkle in her eye. She cocked her head and looked like she was saying, “Hello, new stranger. Welcome to my home, my country, my land.” She fluttered away.
“Look. She’s flying away. Quick! Let’s follow her.” said Peter. The parrot flew into the top of a neighbouring tree in the garden and they followed her. She started to preen her feathers. Then she suddenly flew off.
“Where’s she going?” asked George in excitement.
“She’s disappeared into the trees. We can’t see her in the leaves.” said Elizabeth, the little girl.  
They ran around, searching for a view of the parrot. Suddenly a grey furry thing glided from the sky. It startled George.
“What was that?” he exclaimed.
“A sugar glider.” said Elizabeth.
“It looks like a squirrel.” said George.
“It does.” replied Elizabeth.
“But it can fly.” added Peter.
The sugar glider took off again and floated to another tree. The children followed. It led them from tree to tree, around the garden. They ran after it, scrambling over the grass, pushing through the hibiscus hedge.
“Oh no! It’s disappeared.” George said. He was disappointed.
“No, look! It’s there, on that bush. It’s looking at us. Come, let’s follow.” said Peter.
They scrambled past the hedge. It was dark with dense overgrowth and leaves surrounding them, blocking the sunlight. Suddenly, they heard a sound.
“What was that?” asked George quietly. They saw nothing. They kept going. Then they heard a rustle in the leaves.
“What was that?” whispered Elizabeth. She held on tightly to her brother Peter’s hand.
“Stay close together.” whispered back Peter. They all stayed close together as they made their way through the bush. They pushed their way through branches and leaves. Suddenly, they came to a clearing. They found they had made their way to the backyard. There amongst the tress in the back, sunlight filtered through the leaves. They followed the sugar glider as it made its way through clumps of bushes towards the center of the clearing. There was a fluttering of brightly coloured wings and the children gasped.

For there in the center flooded with sunlight filtering through the leaves was the blue and red parrot. And beside it stood a green parrot, its mate. The children stood in silence, marveling at the scene before them. The sugar glider had led them to the pair of parrots. The children stood and watched in wonder, marveling at God’s creation.

Suddenly, they heard a call. “Children!” called Peter and Elizabeth’s parents. “George!” called George’s dad. “It’s time for dinner!” Quietly, the children backed out of the scene before them.
“Come and wash your hands.” said Elizabeth’s mum. “We’re having dinner with George’s family.” The children were famished. And they were excited to have mumu.


Mumu

Why was George excited to have mumu? Mumu is a traditional dish in Papua New Guinea where a huge pit is dug in the ground. Large stones are heated over fire to make them hot. Chicken, ibeka, sweet potato and other food all marinated in coconut milk are wrapped in banana leaves and placed in the pit with the hot stones. The pit is covered in earth and allowed to cook for several hours. Afterwards the food is dug up, the banana leaves removed and the food is served! George especially enjoys the ibeka and Elliana enjoys the chicken. Try an oven-friendly version below!

Ingredients:

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 lb swiss chard, or spinach these are similar to ibeka, a leafy green
3 sweet potatoes, quartered
1 can coconut milk
salt and pepper

1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
2.  Wash the swiss chard or spinach well. Rub salt and pepper over the chicken pieces.
3.  Lay the swiss chard or spinach leaves on the bottom of the casserole dish and sprinkle with salt to taste. Salt and pepper the sweet potatoes, then place the sweet potatoes and chicken over the layer of swiss chard (or spinach).
4.  Stir the can of coconut milk to mix the cream and the milk. Pour the can of coconut milk over the swiss chard, sweet potatoes and chicken.
5.  Cover the dish with tin foil. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes or so to cool the dish. Remove the foil, and dish onto plates for a family dinner.

from: George's grandparents



    Eclectus Parrot facts:

    • Males are green with red and blue wing feathers and a yellow beak, while females are red with blue and a black beak. This unique feature once made people think that each bird was a separate species.
    • Eclectus parrots are found in tropical rainforests in the Pacific region and their range is from Indonesia to the Pacific Islands and Australia.
    • They feed on seeds, nuts, fruits and nectar.
    • They have a loud screeching call and can mimic some human language.
    • Their habitat is threatened due to deforestation, which impacts their home and breeding.


    Find out more about Eclectus Parrots from the Government of Queensland, Australia here.

     

    Papua New Guinea facts:

    • Papua New Guinea (abbreviated and called PNG) is a tropical island above Australia and just below the equator.
    • The capital city is Port Moresby.
    • One half of the island of New Guinea forms West Papua which is a part of Indonesia.
    • Papua New Guinea is home to diverse flora and fauna, some of which are unique to the area. Some examples are sugar gliders, Papuan Black snake and tree kangaroos.
    • The Great Barrier Reef begins near Papua New Guinea and is the largest coral reef in the world and the only living thing that can be seen from outer space.
    • There are over 700 languages in PNG due to the isolation of tribes as a result of the dense tropical rainforest. The main language is Pidgin or Tok Pisin which is a mix of German and English and local dialects.
    • The mountainous area with thick tropical rainforest in Papua New Guinea is referred to as the highlands.

    Discover more about the wondrous land of Papua New Guinea through your own research!

    You can share in the adventure by trying the recipes above.  We would love to see your culinary adventures on The Open Road's Instagram!

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