Margo Weinstein

Chapter Six: Safer in Port Moresby

Post-9/11 Travel in Papua New Guinea

This chapter is about risk. I agreed to join an exploratory kayaking trip to untouristed areas along the Tufi coast and in the Trobriand Islands of Papua New Guinea. Then, on September 11, 2001, the world changed, as did our risk assessments. I felt safer in crime-ridden Papua New Guinea than in my office high in the Sears Tower (as the Wall Street Journal noted when it quoted me in a story on adventure travel after 9/11). So I went.

On this exploratory trip, dim dims (white people) paddling kayaks up to a village was still a welcome surprise, not a biweekly event. The resulting interactions with the local people were amazing, until they become overwhelming. Needing a break, we paddled to the solitude of a deserted island only to be stranded by a deflated kayak and rescued by the people we had fled. Despite the risks I took on this trip, on November 12, 2001, I was safely paddling my kayak in the Solomon Sea when a commercial flight from JFK crashed moments after takeoff, killing all aboard. What did that mean, other than that I was fortunate? Should I be more careful because you never know what might happen? Or should I take more risks because you never know what might happen? The answers and my risk calculus changed completely when I had a baby.

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