Towards the end of our time living in Papua New Guinea, it became evident that we could not leave without having made a visit to the notorious Asaro Mudmen. A small tribe from a village just outside Goroka in the Eastern Highlands Province, they rose to fame by defeating other tribes by smearing their bodies in mud and wearing terrifying clay masks when at war. The story goes that they were once attacked by another tribe and hid by the Asaro River until evening. At dusk they decided to make a run for it and hope for survival. But when the other tribe saw them rising from the river banks glowing pale from the white mud they'd come in contact with, they fled in terror believing the Asaro tribe to be spirits. Therefore, they decided - with great success - to play up this image.
Papua New Guinea - commonly known as PNG - is a large island off the coast of Australia that I had both the privilege and misfortune of living on for three years. I say privilege because it was an extremely beautiful and fascinating place, but also misfortune because of the violence of the culture and high crime rates. PNG is regarded as one of the least explored places in the world, with over 800 languages and head hunting and cannibilism that persisted into the 70's (and though now illegal still occurs intermittently even today). So how in the world did I end up there?