A stupid statement to make to seventeen million mosquitoes who all have but one ambition: to crawl in my ears.
I slipped again, and my knees were so battered, I didn't even feel it, it was more like permanent pain. If it were possible, I was wetter than I had been an hour ago, when the rain actually stopped. I wish I'd rationed my rations better - ha! Good one!
The Kokoda Trail - what a misnomer! The Kokoda Maze of Trails is more like it. I'd followed so may tracks in the past week or so I was no longer certain that I was still in Papua New Guinea, every hill, every ravine was the same as the one before, and it hardly ever stopped raining.
Yeah, I was warned about walking the Track alone, and yeah, I knew I should have let authorities know I was leaving, and yeah, I was about to scratch my balls out because of crutch rot, but, hey! Where there's life, there's hope, or so I told yet another huge python who eyed me off as a potential snack.
I topped another rise, saw another valley, same old story, shrouded in a mist and about to be rained on. It was an impossible green, like a sweaty emerald, but there was one difference in this valley: I could hear a voice!
I moved quietly towards the sound until I could make out the words.
"Half a leak,
Half a leak,
Have a leak on wood,
All in the belly of Brett
Rode the sick undead."
Tennyson? Out here? Bastardized, into a pidgin poetry? I slid as quietly as I could to get closer.
"Oh snatch! A way in Bertha's bloom
On the shell press nope. On Derris tomb
Butt - on thy turf shell roses rare
There leaves thee - or least of thy ear."
Byron? In the middle of the jungle in the middle of Nowhere. Incredible.
I moved forward and stood on an impossibly beautiful Bird of Paradise which flew straight at my face, shrieking loudly. I fell on my butt and slid down the muddy track, bursting through ferns until I tumbled into a clearing.
Natives, obviously as drunk as Lords, sat in a circle whilst one swayed in the centre, obviously reciting his translation of the classics. They stared at me open-mouthed, and I had a sudden flash of a cannibalism story I'd been told in Lae. I spoke one of the few pidgin words that I knew:
To say I caused a stir would be like stating that Bradman could play cricket. Small black, drunken wiry-haired New Guineans gathered around me, jabbering loudly, touching my skin, obviously amazed at a visit, from a white man. One of them handed me a bottle of whisky. real whisky. I sat on a fallen tree took a huge swig, and passed out.
I woke in a grass hut, on a dirt floor which I'd obviously swallowed some of, as the taste in my mouth was hideous. I took a swallow from a gourd of what I hoped was water, and drank sparingly in case I was wrong. A voice intoned outside the hut:
:"I want canned ale, three knights at arms
A lone and pale Lee Lloyd ring,
The sludge has with her on the lake
Anode burrs sting."
I knew my Keats, despite the interpretation. This was a mystery and a half. I crawled under the back wall of the hut, and crawled up the hill away from the men. I crept for what I hoped was far enough, then headed at speed away from the clearing and the natives. Men who could do that to poetry were capable of anything! I crashed through the thick undergrowth, up yet another hill, over the top and then - I saw a plane.
What was left of a plane. One wing was gone, and half the other. The fuselage had broken in two, but the two pieces remained almost together. I approached and was almost overcome by the stench of whisky. Broken glass was everywhere, and some sodden pages. I picked up a page. Walter de la Mare leapt at me from the page. Illocical, and illegal.
I had come to Papua New Guinea looking for adventure, and I'd found a mystery.