P-MAN VIII Update #4
17 February 2006

When we woke up this morning, it was raining. Hard.

Undaunted by precip, we pressed on with our plan to pick up our guide up in Ibobong, and head back over to the execution site in Ngatpang described to us by Chief Techitong yesterday. He seemed a bit surprised that we'd consider a long jungle hike in a driving downpour, but was willing to help anyway. We met him along the Compact road, in a place that made it clear that we might be talking about something other than the site that Techitong had described. In fact, it was clear that he intended to take us to the site that's considered to be General Sadae Inoue's jungle headquarters. After a brief discussion, we all decided that he had no idea where the site described by Techitong might be.

Well, okay - none of us except Pat had seen Inoue's headquarters (I missed it by one day when I had to depart a day early in 2000), and Pat had in mind an area there that he'd been wanting to explore in greater detail, so we decided to go on in and take advantage of the chance to use this guide, who had been the one who took Pat and Chip and Pam Lambert there in 2000.. The site is about a 45-minute hike under good conditions - fairly dense jungle, fording a few small streams, lots of up-and-down. Today everything was super muddy and swampy and slippery, so it took closer to an hour each way. Although the jungle is a pretty noisy place during a rainstorm, we didn't even have to look around to keep track of each other as we moved along - only had to listen for that regular "splort - splort" sound as people's boots almost
got sucked off by the mud.

We explored two areas that Pat had been wanting to look at, without success. One was a depression on a ridge that in some ways fit an execution site described in records of a war-crimes tribunal. A careful examination of this site turned up no evidence that it was an execution site. The other was a cave whose entrance was overgrown with roots and vines that looked like closely-spaced bars on a jail cell. The roots and vines were even more of an obstacle today than they had been when Pat first saw the place in 2000, but a flashlight revealed that not far inside, the whole cave had collapsed - so even if we could have hacked our way in, there wouldn't have been any place to go.

After the wet, harrowing hike out (we were hard pressed to remember any time in our lives when we'd been wetter or muddier, or slipped and fell more often), we ate lunch by the car and planned to return to Police Hill to explore several places that we didn't get to yesterday.

Muddy but happy after a long, slippery hike and lunch by the car. (L-R: Dan O'Brien,
Don Shuster, Pat Scannon, Mike Olds, Joe Maldangesang. © Reid Joyce 2006

Back at Police Hill, we covered the margins of the jungle that we hadn't seen yesterday, and made a wide sweep across the lower hill just below the police station, again without success. We still have some areas around Police Hill to explore, but decided to call it a day at about 4:00, when one last torrential rainstorm moved through.

Pat figured we hiked about 7 miles today, and didn't even get extra credit for all that slippin' and slidin'. Did I mention that it rained?

- Reid