To get to Rondon we travel about 45 minutes to Hagen town, turn down an unmarked road, cross a wooden bridge, and then another 45 minutes up a dirt road. The road has some rather precarious looking drop-offs. I imagine that the next good rain will wash it away (again). As we wind our way up, there are glimpses of the mountains above and valley below. Friendly locals smile and wave as we pass through their village. Children offer flower boquets for just a few toea. They are so precious it is hard to resist!
The hotel is rather nice, quite luxurious for PNG. We missionaries don't usually stay there as the cost is out of our price range. (I did have the privilege of staying one night when I first came to PNG, thanks to Becky who was attending a conference.) The main hall is an interesting bit of architecture, a combination of modern and traditional materials. There is a lovely flower garden and fish pond just outside the main hall. The panoramic view of the Wahgi valley is breathtaking. Mt. Hagen sits so far below it almost looks beautiful. A 15 minute walk takes you through the rainforest to an orchid garden. The garden is still in progress, but even more lovely every time I visit. The orchids like to play hide an seek; each time I have seen new flowers that I haven't see before. It is a fun place to explore.
Last Saturday, some of our volunteers and a couple of missionaries tag-alongs piled into the blue turbo cruiser and retreated to Rondon Ridge for the day. We had quite an international group: Tom and Lois from Springfield (Ohio), Francine from Jersey (the country, not the state), Nick and Charlotte from England, and Graham and Elaine from Australia. The variety of English accents was fascinating! We briefly stopped in Hagen for ATM and market goods, then bounced our way up the mountain to Rondon Ridge. It was sprinkling a bit when we arrived, but that did not deter us from enjoying the valley views and orchid garden. Lunch was a choice of chicken, beef, or fish with "chips" a.k.a. french fries. Barramundi is one of my favorite kinds of fish. Ice cream with strawberries concluded the delicious meal. It was a lovely afternoon. So nice to escape Kudjip for a few hours!
On the way home we did run into a bit of an unexpected detour. We attempted to take the back way or scenic route home. Unfortunately we came upon a bridge that was impassable and had to turn around. Too bad we didn't BYOP (bring your own planks) for this outing. Oh, well!