Traditions, people and plastic trophies

A pretty random assortment of cargo this last week flying out of Timika, thanks mainly to the anniversary/birthday of the mountain town of Ilaga which happened over the weekend. In the days leading up to the celebrations, I’ve been flying some pretty random things including a whole planeload of plastic gold trophies for their local football tournament.  

Trophies to Ilaga

Although they don’t weigh very much, thanks to being made of plastic, they don’t half take up some room! One of the trophies was nearly five foot tall and we simply couldn’t get it into the Porter along with all the others which ranged from simple kiddie sized ones, to some seriously elaborate, multi-layered monstrosities to cheapen up even the most tacky, laminated wooden shelf in one’s home. That super-sized one ended up flying there on a Twin-Otter in the end.

Trophies to Ilaga

Along with all the trophies were a few plastic trees, some fake plastic grass and a load of baskets filled with yet more plastic grass. Then there was the PA system with tannoy speakers so large I ended up dismantling them and stacking the large bullhorn trumpets on top of each other and sticking them in the passenger side foot-well for the flight. I guess it was to be a heck of a party!

Tribal dancing at Ilaga
Tribal dancing at Ilaga

Of course no celebration would be complete in Papua without the obligatory tribal dances that welcomed every aircraft arriving in Ilaga on the Saturday. I assumed this would be reserved for VIP passengers flying in from all over the region but it didn’t seem to matter who you were. Even if the aircraft was merely a cargo flight with just a pilot and a planeload of frozen chickens, these guys were all too happy to swing into some funky dancing to a rhythmic drum beat from what appeared to be a cheap Casio keyboard. Got to love the mix of traditional values and modern tech!

Splendid local chap

Aside from the happenings in Ilaga, I had plenty of other fun cargo to take to various other local villages. Very often passengers purchase pets when back in the larger towns like Timika to take back to their villages. Dogs are the most common as they’re used to hunt pigs with but chickens and kittens also make an appearance quite regularly; the former for eating the later for company (I hope!).

Kitty cargo
Cute cargo

Whilst animals are, on the whole, pretty placid once the engine’s going for some children (and adults) it’s a little too much to handle. This poor little chap spent the entire thirty minute flight from Alama to Timika crying is eyes out. There’s only so much noise my ANR headset will cut-out sadly…

Someone doesn’t like flying!

Going back to traditional values and modern things, the locals have very much taken to many modern conveniences we all take for granted such as soda drinks, instant noodles and cooking oil. In fact, on the subsidised flights we actually provide a box drink, a pack of biscuits and a couple of sweets to suck for take-off and landing; you don’t get that sort of service included on your Ryanair or AirAsia flight!

Father and son

I’ll leave you with this photo of one of the villagers in Alama who, as you can see, has the traditional hole through the inside of his nose. It seems even despite all the modern influences, some traditions haven’t been lost thankfully.

Papuan traditions
Matt Dearden

Matt Dearden

English born professional pilot, writer, blogger and columnist. Currently flying the Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter in Papua, Indonesia.

You may also like...

2 Responses

  1. Trophies says:

    Corporate gifts are very popular in Singapore. The gifts show our thanks to our clients.

    • Matt Dearden Matt Dearden says:

      Yup, I’m well aware of the customs out in this part of the world when it comes to gifts; it’s almost expected! I just enjoy the fact I had a plane-load of the things to take up to a small, remote village. Not my everyday cargo that’s for sure!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *