The wild, wild east

We’re on our way to a gold mining site in the eastern bush, but last night an UNPOL truck wrecked the bridge.

There are supposed to be three boards on the right, and the two that remain are a little wobbly. The creek looks fordable in our land cruiser. We think.

We would be wrong. This would be us at a 45 degree angle in the creek bed.

A nearby village joins the show.

And here I am putting my PhD to good work.

We eventually reach the mining town. By town, of course, I mean three huts and a bar (under construction).

We are rewarded, however, with a grizzled old Kiwi named Richard. He’s been mining these parts for forty years, and now sells rice for gold to the ex-coms panning in the hills. He laughs with his tougue sticking between his teeth, and has clearly been out here a little too long.

The ex-coms make a meagre living. If they’re lucky, they’ll get 3 grams of gold a month–maybe $60 in all. Richard sells the gold for them overseas, but makes his real profit selling them rice: $50 a bag in cash or twice that in gold nuggets.

Why would anyone pay twice the price in gold? Cash is hard to come by, but only in that it’s a few hours walk away. Richard’s explanation: “they know if they get the cash they’ll blow it on booze.”

This may be a job for a commitment savings device. Time to call Super Dean?