Of Canoes and Crocodiles: Paddling the Sepik in Papua New Guinea (Wayfarer) (Paperback)
Of Canoes and Crocodiles is a story of adventure in the remote and threatened landscapes of Papua New Guinea. In 2018, Tony Robinson-Smith and his wife Nadya Ladouceur bought dugout canoes and paddled down the Sepik, the country's longest river. Traveling with local guides and staying in their villages, they ate smoked piranha and sago pancakes, heard tales of river gods and sorcerers, marvelled at Rainbow bee-eaters and cat-size flying foxes, sank in a tropical storm, got lost in mosquito-infested swamplands, and hid from pirates in mangroves near the sea. As the narrative follows the bends of the river, Robinson-Smith incorporates into its flow descriptions of crocodile initiation rites, village "big men," the barter system, raskolism, and sing-sings. He reflects on clan loyalty, colonization, Christian missionaries, bride price, the environmental impacts of foreign logging and mining, and the joys and fears of following the current down a long, snaky jungle river in a volatile Melanesian country.