Typical of the parking lots we would spend the next few days circling
We checked out of our safe & clean hotel and the hotel driver took us to the bus station looking for a bus to Mt. Hagen. We were looking for a big bus, not a PMV but he explained that most busses travel overnight. PMV’s go during the day. There wasn’t any at the first bus stop so we headed downtown. He asked around and he explained the only bus going was leaving at 3 pm which would get us in at 2 or 3 am. Ahhhh no thanks. Mt H has the craziest warnings and we are not supposed to be out after dark, arriving at a bus station at that hour did not sound wise. We would gladly skip it altogether but there is no other way; well we could fly to Port Moresby and then to Tari but that would cost a fortune. The hotel driver found us a PMV he assured us would be safe and we loaded in. It then continued to circle the rutted, pot hole filled parking lot looking for more passengers. We obviously weren’t leaving until full.
A few minutes into the merry go round a couple of guys stopped us and talked to the driver then crawled in and started arguing with the girl that had been lying in the back seat (we thought sleeping). She eventually got out, and another passenger explained “run away” to us. Oh, how lovely. Thirty minutes into the ride we hadn’t left the parking lot and I was getting dizzy. We just kept going round and round and round while the driver’s helper (a lot of countries the bus drivers have helpers that collect money and try to drum up business by yelling the destination out the door) called Hagan, last chance, Hagan, Hagan, Hagan, last chance…apparently they didn’t understand the meaning of “Last Chance”. On one turn I got to witness, along with the other 50-100 people milling about, an older man steal cigarettes from a young boy (about eight years old) selling them. The young boy was clearly upset but the man just got mad and hit him in the head a few times until he finally wandered off. About ten minutes later the kid was back, and we got to see him chuck a rock about the size of a cantaloupe at some other man. Sixty five (yes 65) minutes in we were still circling. I had to pee by now. Finally the last two seats were filled but they had to go to the ATM first. The van pulled over and everyone, but us, got out for a cigarette. James turned to me…remember that Friends episode with Ross and the awards show. Yup! This is it!
The one thing our bus didn't pull over to buy. Although on a later trip we would be next to a bag full of live pig. 40 Kina is about $20 CAD.
The smokers finally got back in and we started off, I was confused because we didn’t have the two ATM people. The driver started to look for them…driving around. Finally another passenger spotted them. Standing under a tree in the shade having a cigarette. OMFG! Would everyone just in the f@ck*$g van! Finally we were off…well after we stopped for gas. Then at the market 10 minutes out of town so everyone could buy coconuts. I wish I was joking. The bus station where we circled the lot for over an hour had a market next door with coconuts! I know, I saw them there yesterday. But nooooo, we had to make a stop here?!? A 30 minute stop at that. I love to travel. I love to travel. I love to travel. “sigh” Hot, soaking wet with sweat and having to pee – and after being in the van for about 1.5 hours – we were finally off. Now only 12 more hours to go.
The trip turned out to be very interesting and I didn’t end up reading or watching the IPOD the whole time. I dozed a bit but it was hard in the van seats; nowhere to rest your head. I also had a few good hours of entertainment – James! The rest of the passengers behind us also enjoyed it. James hadn’t slept well the night before and couldn’t stay awake or asleep so he just bobbed around, back and forth until he’d go too far and his head would snap up. I found the head cracking off the handle rest in front of him extremely funny but after a few good cracks got concerned. We all know how hard his head is and I was worried he’d break the handle and we’d get charged for it.
We were traveling on the Highlands Highway (also known as the Okuk Highway) which is the main highway in PNG (and it will turn out to be a mostly rough, dirt/gravel road with washed out/muddy areas caused by rain) and runs from Lae, on the coast, in a north-easterly direction towards Madang (where we started). From Madang it heads inland to the highlands.
The day had a road trip feel to it. There were nine people on board, seven passengers, the driver and his helper. There was music playing and everyone was singing along. Anytime anyone wanted the van to stop they’d whistle. And stop we did, so many freakin stops. Not long after the coconut stop the lady in front of me whistled when we rounded a corner and she saw people selling stick brooms and fresh coconut juice. We stopped and everyone, but us, piled out. Some bought stick brooms and everyone had a fresh coconut juice. Then we were off again until someone whistled. The next was a fresh, cold water spring. Beside the spring was a smart lady selling whole grilled fish. We declined both but everyone else filled their bottles and climbed aboard with stinky grilled fish. There were even road side attractions. Pigs, goats, waving naked kids, men standing in the middle of the road holding a 6 foot long white snake, men with painted faces carrying large machetes and police road blocks. Ya know, the usual North American road trip stuff. The only way to get through a police road block seemed to be with a money filled handshake. We passed two of these today and I have no idea what the road blocks were for other than so the police could collect some cash. They’d ask everyone, but us, to get out and give a quick search of the van, check the driver’s papers and send us on our way. The other big difference was the betel nut chewing. Everyone, but us, chewed it all day, endlessly. They crack the Betel nuts into their mouth, dipped a mustard bean into white powder (the same we saw them carrying at Ahe, made from coral or shell) to chew with the Betel nut. But this whole process creates a lot of dark red saliva. GAG! Being stuck in a van didn’t seem to be a problem; they just used an empty coke bottle. GAG! Sometimes they’d spit out the window but when we were going fast it would spray on the windows. GAG! Everyone, but us, spent the day chewing and spitting into bottles until they were nearly full. GAG! Then they’d toss them out the window. GAG! I have to take a short break from blogging so I can go barf.
The scenery was beautiful. The roads were lined with tropical plants, flowering bushes and trees. There were wild for-get-me-not bushes, poinsettia trees, daisies and bright yellow marigolds that would rival Uncle Elton’s. Some of the plant life was planted in front of houses, buildings and up walk ways but most just grew wild. Then there were the wide open barren fields and mountains and then the thick vibrant green jungle areas. We passed small wooden huts in the middle of nowhere and tiny villages full of them. Sometimes we’d pass a small market and would see hundreds of people milling about selling their home grown fruit & veggies and homemade items.
The ride was long and we passed things that were somewhat similar to parts of Indonesia and East Timor but then completely different. It had me thinking of the questions we were asked last night. Has the novelty of travel worn off and do we still feel any culture shock? No and yes, kind of. The novelty of entering a new country and seeing all the different people, customs, clothing, religions, and beliefs is as exciting and interesting as it was last February…as it was always for me. I sometimes get tired of the “travel” but never of what I am seeing and doing. Even after spending so long in Indonesia when we got to Papua I took note of the differences. We’ve also been traveling fairly remote for the last few months and being the only tourist (white person) on a bus, boat, whatever is still fun. I will never tire of the joy I feel when young kids see us and get excited. We are as different and unusual to so many people we met along the way as they are to us. It does make me laugh thinking what they must think of us when we are scruffy and dirty. Really? That’s not what I see on tv. We don’t so much feel culture shock. We’ve been in Asia for about 2.5 years (James has only been back in Canada for 6 days since April 2009) and it’d be hard to shock us. We’ve seen a lot. But we are still surprised at a lot of the stuff we see. Sometimes the customs, clothing (or lack of), food choices, or the crazy way things are done is surprising. But I think for me it’s more of a never ending curiosity and interest in everything that keeps me going despite cockroaches, mice, rats and lack of creature comforts. As I sit in my PMV full of hot, sweaty people crammed shoulder to shoulder on a road that is comparable to East Timor roads (yes, that bad) on my way to god knows what…I wonder if I’m not just a little bit crazy.
Typical rest stop.
As the day went on we dropped a few people off and stopped in a few villages to pick a few more up and by the time we reached Hagan it was all men and me. I was a bit nervous. Didn’t someone say not to be in a van full of men? One guy asked us where we were going and the driver and the rest of the men didn’t know the hotel we were taking about. They told us not to worry, they’d look after us. I was worried. They decided to go to the police station and ask for directions. I started to worry more. We pulled up to the police station just as it was getting dark. One guy jumped out and went into the station and a policeman came out. He came over and talked to us. He knew the hotel and would give us an escort there. Huh? So, with the van still full of passengers, we started to follow the police van. As we turned a corner a guy raced by with another guy chasing him WITH A MACHETE! Our police escort sped up to catch up and as the cop opened his door the guy being chased ran to him. Our van pulled up behind and everyone leaned forward to see what was happening. I grabbed James’ arm and hid my face. Needless to say a few choice words were circling my brain. I think they began with an F, but I hate to swear in my blog. There were two other policemen in the back of the police van and James said they got out and grabbed the two guys. The machete guy got two good punches in but didn’t get a chance to hack his prey. The two guys and the two policemen jumped into the back of the van and our parade took off again. I was speechless. The guy behind me smiled shyly and said “domestic dispute”. Yeah, right. We followed the police van into the hotel parking lot, it was about 4 blocks from the police station, and everyone got out. Well except the bad guys and the two officers guarding them. Everyone in our van shook our hands, everyone loves to shake hands in PNG, and we thanked them for their help. Then the officer walked us into reception.
Thankfully they had a room and we checked in. We asked about PMV’s to Tari the next day; there was no way in Hell we were staying here any longer than we had to. The lady at reception explained their driver didn’t show up until 8 am and the PMV’s to Tari left around 7. Np, we’d walk, it was just two blocks away. Both the policeman and the lady said NO. It was not safe to walk around by ourselves. Even in day light? Yup, even then. OMG! OMG! OMG! We finally arranged for the night security men at the hotel to walk us when their shift ended at 7 am. We were shown to our room and I sat on the end of our bed in a state of shock. Well, I don’t think I’ve ever had shock before but I imagine this is what it feels like. Where are we, what are we doing here and how can I get out. On top of everything I’d walked in poo and was tracking it all over our room. Great, just great! The room had a kettle and free coffee packets so I made one. At least if anything else happened I wouldn’t have to deal with it and a lack of caffeine headache.
James distracted me by suggesting a walk to the hotel bar and restaurant. They actually had cheap draft but I wasn’t in the mood. Yeah, I was in rough shape if I was declining a beer. We went back to our room and I had a cup of chicken noodle soup while I watched some really weird old movie with Keanu & Drew Barrymore in it. It took my mind off the last few hours and eventually I crawled into bed.
The road getting worse and worse
I was pretty much awake before our 6 am alarm…I’d been up most of the night. I couldn’t get the machete chasing man out of my head and it stormed all night again. It’s not a pitter patter that I would normally love but shake down the hotel rain and thunder (again). I still lingered in bed while James made the pb sandwiches for the day. Today we will finally be in Tari. Tari is in the Southern Highlands where traditional cultures still thrive. The Tari Basin, in particular, is where people have retained their traditional ways, grass skirts and all. It’s also home of the famous wig men and their intricately decorated wigs. We are both very excited and hope to see a trace of the original PNG.
We met the security guard from the night before in the reception and he gave us our room key deposit back and introduced us to the two guards that would be our escorts. They would accompany us to the bank machine (we’d opted to carry less money and use machines) and then to the bus station. We were still doubtful we needed to be escorted but weren’t going to argue after last night. At the first bank the machines were down so we walked a bit further and found one that had working machines. I was a bit nervous, if we didn’t get money we’d have to rely on VISA; something not many budget places take. This was the last village with bank machines for a few days. At the bus station we started asking for a PMV to Tari, well our new friends the security guards did. We were the only tourists (white people) and a huge crowd started to form around us. They weren’t being aggressive, they were just curious and trying to help. One PMV offered a ride to Mehndi about half way to Tari, but our security gave him a push. Guess he didn’t like that idea. A guy in a fancy white Toyota Landcruiser (more expensive than we’d ever be able to own) offered us a ride but the security guards said NO! Finally a PMV pulled up and our friends said it was safe to go. Maybe an escort was a good idea.
This body cavity search brought to you by Jesus
We climbed in with the other 2 passengers, the driver and his helper and 27 bushels of Betel nuts. One of the guys was a Betel nut seller and was heading to Tari with his nuts. The van was full so we got to leave… kinda. We stopped for gas then a chip shop (that was so tempting but it wasn’t 8 am yet) then were off. The road trip vibe I felt yesterday was the same but with only 6 of us we had less stops and less betel juice bottles. The roads were quite a bit worse and the rain (the night before and on and off all day) didn’t help. We saw two tractor trailers that had slid off the muddy road and lay in the ditch. I can’t even begin to imagine how they get them up and out. We didn’t go through any police checks but had a liquor check (the southern highland province is supposed to be a “dry” area) and a tribe check. Sometimes a group of guys from a village or tribe on or near the road will set up their own road blocks. This one had a big boulder in the middle of the road and most of the men were holding large rocks. I think the driver bartered a bit with the rockless man who had a fistful of cash until they agreed on an amount and the driver paid him. Then they rolled the boulder out of the way and we cheerily went on our way. Seriously everyone waved and shouted goodbyes. I think I missed something. If you were stopped on the 401 by a “gang” from Kingston who wouldn’t let you buy until you paid…would you be happy?
So we were off again until someone spotted a roadside treat – kangaroo! The guy beside James saw it and got excited. The driver stopped and backed up until we were in front of a shack with a huge chunk of tree kangaroo on a grill. Two of the guys jumped out and picked their desired pieces and jumped back in. They had big pieces of it wrapped in ferns that they started to slice with very big knives (that I never even knew they had on them until this moment) and pass it around. It was very nice that they wanted to share, too bad I was puking just a little in my mouth. We politely turned it down and I stared out the window trying desperately to go to my happy place. It’s not like I’m a vegetarian or anything but it looked pretty gross and smelled even worse. Staring out the window I didn’t see James’ reaction (and after living/traveling in Asia for almost three years we are getting pretty good at keeping a straight face) but later he admitted he too almost threw up. It was cooked whole and they ate it skin, paws and all. I think they pulled the nails off but I couldn’t keep track and stay in my happy place.
The trip today, although long and I felt like a bobble head doll, was impressive. We passed Mount Gilwue, PNG’s second-highest mountain (4368m), beautiful valleys, ceremonial grounds and climbed 2900m over the Poroma Valley where the road leads to Tari. We weren’t actually headed to Tari but 45 minutes before it, up in the mountains that overlooked the Tari basin. It was rugged, harsh and green. Everywhere you looked there were gardens on the steep cliffs and small round wooden huts dotted the mountains. The temperature had dropped and was refreshing and crisp. I was trying as hard as I could to take in the beauty and the fresh air and forget the scary, scary, scary stuff we’d seen and heard.
Not long after the tasty roadside snack we were pulling up outside Warili Lodge. I was nervous. We had made a reservation the day before and looked it up online. But some of the places we look up in PNG have web sites but the ones that don’t show rooms have turned out to be horrible. (I think there’s a travel hint there.) It was raining again and we made a dash in the front gates. Yikes! We were met by the owner, Steve, and he led us into the “kitchen”. It was a large, cold, dark room that had a tiny cook stove/fire pit in the middle. There were seats of all ages and states of falling apart lining the walls and a few tables at one end. One corner of the floor had green palm leaves covering a huge hole. Not a great first impression. He walked us in and we sat down. We talked a bit about tours and he was a bit cranky about giving us information. Guess people ask and don’t like the price so don’t do the tours. Isn’t that his job? I finally asked to see a room and freaked. (Keep in mind I am still a little shaken up by last night.) It was dark, dirty and gross. The window had no screening and there was no mosquito net. There were holes in the ceiling that had been plugged with toilet paper. The bathrooms were scuzzy concrete boxes off the kitchen and of course – no hot water. This was so much worse than Nabire even! Yeah, I know I am in the PNG jungle, a long way away from civilization but for $160 a night can I at least have hot water? The lodge was also right next to the road and our window was about 30 feet from it. All I could think of was someone coming in through it as I was sleeping. There was a lodge we just passed on the road that I’d found while doing research (Trans Niugini tours has a bunch of high end lodges in PNG) and it was expensive but would be safe, clean and … well anything would be better than this. Last night I told James how nervous I was and that if this place freaked me out we were going to the expensive lodge. Period. We had a little mini argument and returned to the kitchen to tell Steve we were leaving (James’ Note: By “we” she means James had to go tell the cranky guy we weren’t paying $160 per night for his shithole, particularly since the sign outside had a freshly painted price of one quarter of that). I guess he had kicked out a bunch of truckers for us and he was not happy. I told him we didn’t ask him to kick anyone out for us, to be honest I’d prefer not to be alone in this place. I tried to be positive. I told him it was because we had a rough night in Hagen and I was looking for more security. I was also worried that Ambua Lodge up the road would be full so I smiled and said if they didn’t have space we’d be back. He said not to bother. Oh.
So we bundled up and started the wet hike back up the hill. At Ambua Lodge we were greeted by the managers. They gave us the prices, told us about a few tours they could line up and showed us a room. Still not quite what you’d expect for the price but we took it. Well I did, James was still fuming. It was not even close to worth what we were spending but I’d be able to sleep at night and want to stay the three nights we needed to see the area properly. They offered us coffee and cookies (nice!) and we chatted about PNG, Canada, USA and real estate. Interesting.
The lodge doesn’t have tv or internet but does have a big screen tv we were told is for viewing a video on the history of the first white men to this area. We got excited and asked to see it. It was a familiar story. The white man comes to find gold, kills a few locals, takes over the land and gets rich. Oh yeah, and at some point buys teenage girls for a few shells. It was funny to hear the accounts of what the locals thought of the white man in their shorts and shirts (they didn’t think they pooed, couldn’t figure out how it was released when they were all wrapped up in neat packages of clothing) and the planes that eventually came. This only happened 80 years ago, 1930, so the explorers actually took video of it and some of the people in the video (and some we see on the side of the road even) are still around. I wonder if there are still pockets of still undiscovered tribes in the dense jungles of PNG?
We finally made our way to our room and peeled off our clothes and promptly washed them all in scalding water. I wasn’t going to say anything but… I don’t think many of our fellow PMV passengers use deodorant and they have a very distinctive, very strong smell. With my overly sensitive sense of smell I’ve had a few rough moments but today on the bus was like that Seinfeld’s episode with his car. That sounds really mean but it was stuck to us. We reeked. Not as bad as when you eat at Lone Star but close. Finally clean, and smelling clean, we crawled into our “electric blanket” bed. It’s a bit cold up here, maybe 15 degrees at night, and they don’t have heaters or insulation so it can get chilly at night. Electric blankets will be so nice to take the chill off. The hotel price includes breakfast and dinner so we reluctantly pulled ourselves away from the warm comforter and headed to the main building for dinner. The main building is like a beautiful ski lodge with big comfy couches full of pillows and wooden tables and chairs surrounding a fire place. It was warm and smelled like a Canadian winter. It was cloudy when we first arrived but it had a view of the entire valley that I couldn’t wait to see. Hopefully the clouds would lift tomorrow. The manager introduced us to everyone at the bar, and everyone who came in, and filled us in on the next few days. The hotel is very helpful. Dinner was fresh broccoli soup, roast chicken with gravy, potatoes, and fruit salad and ice cream. So delicious and surprising. We thought we’d get PNG food and had no idea what that would be. So far in 6 full days we’ve eaten out twice and both times we had pizza. We were very happy it wasn’t kangaroo. I wanted to linger by the fire but James convinced me to go back to our room. It was cozy, private and the electric blanket such a treat.
I slept amazing and woke up early. We didn’t have much planned for the day (the lodge asked for a day to get our full day tour arranged) so I snuggled back into the warm bed and gazed at the view. The clouds had lifted, most of the way, and the view was stunning. I was hit with a pinch myself is this real moment. I was deep in the highlands of PNG. Wow! I felt like I was cheating buried in my electric blanket bed in a fancy (considering where we are) Lodge but I was still here. Eventually we went up to the main Lodge for breakfast. It was pretty good and had a sliced ham type bacon. Delicious! The Lodge really had the cottage feel this morning. They are building a new building right beside the main Lodge and as we ate a saw was whining in the background. Are Blaine & Barry here? We wanted to see the Saturday market and were told it gets busy around noon so we went back to our room. We opened the front door that looked out over the valley and I tried to blog. The beautiful flower filled grounds of the lodge together with the mountains and valley in the distance was very distracting.
Before we left we spent a few minutes in the Lodge taking to a guy named John who was originally from Australia. He is a helicopter pilot and has been working and living in PNG for 6 years. Like everyone else we’ve met we picked his brain for information on this interesting country. He is based in Lae and he told us last night they had really bad riots. The girls in the office had to spend the night there because it wasn’t safe for them to try to make it home. We asked what caused the riots. A few things. Someone’s wife died in childbirth so a man hacked the doctor up. A twelve year old was raped and her “tribe” retaliated. And they don’t like Asians or Indians and had set a few stores on fire. So add it all up and you have people running around hacking each other up, burning houses and buildings down and looting. He also said he’d been robbed a few times and suggested we take precautions to be safe. We assured him we were. We also asked if it was really necessary for our escort today (no worries, we were taking it regardless what he said). He said that there is a good chance we could be robbed in broad day light on the road to the market. The Raskols don’t care who they rob, they just want money. James, for the umpteenth time, said it was sad that a country full of such friendly people was given such a bad name by a few bad people. I had to agree.
At noon the lodge drove us to the market with our security guard, who carried a three foot long machete at his side. They said we’d likely be okay but didn’t want to take the chance. There was no argument from me. We decided to be driven down and walk back up so were dropped at the far end of the market. Wow! How do I describe it in words. There was no real market, just people gathered along the road. On both sides there were ladies sitting under big umbrellas selling fruit and vegetables, chickens (alive and cut up), betel nuts, pop and cookies and little bags of popcorn. I was tempted by the popcorn but just couldn’t. Men were playing darts in a few areas or sitting in the shade talking. Lots of people were just wandering around talking and shopping. Quite a few were decked out in colorful scarves and head pieces (only men wore the fancy head pieces) and some even in their traditional costumes. Market only happens once a week, Saturday, and about 2000-3000 people from 6 different communities come. It seemed very social and a spot to visit and trade gossip. Like North American teens hanging out at the mall. James politely tried to capture it all and soon men, women and children were asking him to take their pictures. If we stood too long our security guy told us to start walking or a crowd would form around us. He didn’t seem to like that. Other than that it went smooth and was one of the most interesting markets I’ve visited. Markets really show what an area is all about and we got our eyes full.
The men enjoying darts while the women take care of business. James somehow got decorated by one of the men...they may be engaged now, we're not entirely familiar with local customs.
We’d walked to the bridge and back (the length of the market area) and back twice and decided to head home. It was getting a bit busier and we’d seen enough. The guide from the Lodge showed up just then and introduced himself. He apologized for not being with us earlier. We explained we weren’t expected. He then walked with us and we asked him question after question after question. The road, the same main highway that the Lodge was on and that would take you to Tari, took us up the mountain past neat tidy huts and overflowing gardens. We walked about half way back and then Steve suggested we grab a ride. It was dusty and how many huts and gardens do you really need to see? We passed a weird rock circle that we had drove past on the way down. This time though we were in the bed of a pick up so could see the road around the rock ring was dark red, blood red. We asked Steve what it was. He explained the night before a big work truck (dump truck or tractor trailer or similar) had hit a local truck filled to overflowing with people and in the accident a few flew off the top and died. He also explained that any truck after the accident last night had to have a police escort; the family/tribe members of the killed were looking for revenge and they didn’t care with whom. If not protected they would target the work trucks that followed. It was right in front of the sketchy place we were supposed to stay; another good reason not to be there.
A hut that wasn't burnt down
While on a gruesome subject we asked Steve about the burnt houses we saw on our way in the other day. We had passed about 10 or so huts that had been recently burnt to the ground. Steve explained that it was a tribal dispute over a pig, garden or women; he guessed. I later read an article where a government official in Port Moresby stated something like (I had to use the paper to keep my poo covered soles of my shoes of the mini-bus floor so couldn’t keep it for reference) “they” have been settling things between themselves for hundreds of years “this way” and will do so for hundreds more. It’s just the way the way they do things. He was referring to the riots in Lae but it’s obvious he really doesn’t care; it’s just another some Highlands tribal dispute. But the innocent citizens in these areas do not feel that way and wish their government would do something. It’s really sad.
Back at the Lodge we opened up our front doors again, enjoyed the fresh air and view and relaxed. I felt very safe (and guilty) from all the tribal troubles in my comfy hotel room. I can’t even imagine living in that fear. As it got dark I got cold so we went to the main Lodge to sit by the fire. They served popcorn before dinner…that James and I fought over. It has been awhile since we had it. We had another tasty dinner which included our first “local” dish of Como soup. Also called Pigeon soup. It wasn’t bad.
Today I found out what will finally make me throw an article of clothing away. Betel nut juice. At the market we walked across the bridge and James stopped to take a picture. I was busy gawking and not paying attention (as my mom has said to me a million times) and leaned on the rail of the bridge – right in a huge puddle of betel nut juice (aka spit). Eww, gross, gag! I rolled it up so it wouldn’t touch my skin when I really wanted to rip it off (it was one of my favorite have taken everywhere thin cotton long sleeve t’s that had holes from being zipped in a backpack and holes from a laundry tag) but I thought it’d be hard to explain to Steve and our machete carrying security guard why I just wouldn’t wash it. No way, I could never ever even think of wearing it. GAG! Dear Santa…