Of Canoes and Crocodiles
Paddling the Sepik in Papua New Guinea
Of Canoes and Crocodiles is a story of adventure in the remote and threatened landscapes of Papua New Guinea. In 2018, Tony Robinson-Smith and his wife Nadya Ladouceur bought dugout canoes and paddled down the Sepik, the country's longest river. Traveling with local guides and staying in their villages, they ate smoked piranha and sago pancakes, heard tales of river gods and sorcerers, marvelled at Rainbow bee-eaters and cat-size flying foxes, sank in a tropical storm, got lost in mosquito-infested swamplands, and hid from pirates in mangroves near the sea. As the narrative follows the bends of the river, Robinson-Smith incorporates into its flow descriptions of crocodile initiation rites, village "big men," the barter system, raskolism, and sing-sings. He reflects on clan loyalty, colonization, Christian missionaries, bride price, the environmental impacts of foreign logging and mining, and the joys and fears of following the current down a long, snaky jungle river in a volatile Melanesian country.
About the Author
British Canadian travel writer Tony Robinson-Smith is the author of Back in 6 Years: A Journey Around the Planet Without Leaving the Surface, a memoir of his travels by sailboat, bicycle, merchant truck, bread van, and outrigger canoe through fifty-five countries and across three oceans. He also wrote The Dragon Run about the 578 km marathon he and his wife Nadya ran with ten college students and a stray dog across Bhutan to raise money to send local village kids to school. Tony has written travel tales for The Globe and Mail and Druk Air's inflight magazine Tashi Delek. He is a regular contributor to the American online travel magazine Perceptive Travel. In 2018, Tony and Nadya spent three months in Papua New Guinea, paddling dugout canoes down the Sepik River and hiking in the highlands in search of elusive Birds-of-paradise.
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