MAY 1995. AT an open-air market in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, brightly coloured bilums (string bags) hang from the wire perimeter fence and the concrete benches are laden with organically grown produce – oranges, sweet potato, peanuts, coconuts, cabbages and local greens. Clutching a handful of coins, I walk gingerly through the market. People say it’s dangerous, but I’m weary of the constant barrage of security advice. Surely it’s not so bad. Anyway, I want to buy some fresh limes.
It is only 9am, yet I can already feel the sweat soaking into my shirt. I admire the displays of fruit – with modesty and pride, the women arrange their produce like still-life paintings. The nests of peanuts are tied on the stems with twine and perfectly spaced in neat rows. The oranges are in small piles, sprinkled with drops of water. Knobs of garlic, like tiny fat moons, are laid out in delicate sequence on a banana leaf.
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