Goroka itself is pretty much as I expected - quite beautiful but quite poverty stricken in the non-university areas. Lots of settlements and people just standing around on the streets not doing anything, or selling food or cigarettes at streetside stalls. Everyone stares, but the people are so friendly though - they wave and says hello even though they have no clue who I am. On my first day I went to one of the settlements and loads of small children were pointing and shouting "White Meri!! White Meri!!" at me. White Meri means White Woman - they don't see many white people in the settlements.
Fresh food here is SO cheap. We go to the street markets for fruit and veg most days - you can get a huge bag full for around 20 Kina, which is about A$6. The avocados are about the size of my foot and sooo tasty and cost about K1 (A$0.40) each. An enormous cabbage will set you back about K2 (A$0.80); kao kao (a white sweet potato) for 50 toia (A$0.20) per pile and a hand of bananas for K1. I'll be quite happy to never see another piece of kao kao for some time once I leave here... I've totally overdosed.
Grocery items are where they slug you though. A box of Nutri-Grain will set you back 36 kina (A$10). Chocolate is also really expensive and limited to Cadbury’s, plus it's all locked away in a special section of the supermarket near the doors (bit like the cigarette counter in Australia) and the area is surrounded by guards. Go figure.
Cheese is a rarity (and expensive - K19 or A$8 for a 250gm block of Mainland), the meat is dodgy as all get-out and your choice of chicken is either a frozen one, or you go to the outdoor market, pick a chicken and take it home to kill it. Luckily our house meri is more than happy to kill and pluck the occasional chicken for us when we want one.
Tonic water is also a rarity, but we discovered some at the local restaurant where we go swimming on Sunday mornings (yes, a restaurant with a pool in the centre!), so we buy as many as we can carry and usually have G&Ts on a Sunday afternoon.
Items readily available in the supermarket? Drum kits and guitars. Seriously. They’re right at the checkout, so you can pick one up like you would a bar of chocolate at Woolies. Sachets of pre-mixed Nescafe, sugar and milk (although why you’d drink that rubbish when you have amazing fresh ground coffee on your doorstep is beyond me). Twisties. I never knew there were so many bloody varieties of Twisties. Two-minute noodles. Again. WTF?!?
Six packs of the local beer are "packaged" into plastic bags - just tied up into regular red plastic supermarket bags. No fancy packaging here! The only wines available are Jacob's Creek and Penfolds (and it's about A$25 per bottle!). Ugh. But when you're in need of a glass of wine, you learn not to be too picky.
I’ve learned to drink my coffee black – it’s such good coffee that it’s not so bad really. Rice and almond milk are non-existent up here and the only soy milk available is So Good, which is DISGUSTING, so I am now a long-black aficionado.
There are huge second-hand clothing stores (well, warehouses), which are full of all the charity shop rejects from Australia and is where everybody buys their clothes. I spent K9.50 (A$4.15) and got a skirt, three tops and a jumpsuit - all designer and in great condition. Insane. You have to sift through some crap, but it's worth it. I have a strong suspicion that I'll be coming home with a suitcase full of new/old clothes!
Not shoes though. The secondhand shoes are festy.
And on that beautiful thought, I'll leave you.