Lawrence Maril, a young man from Ward 3 in Matupit Island in Rabaul district, East New Britain Province tells his story of what it’s like to live around and look after the Hot Springs and the Mt Tavurvur Volcano.
Lawrence said often very early in the morning the young boys from Matupit Island set out to go and dig at Rolova, a place close to the Mt Tavurvur Volcano to look for Guinea Fowl eggs (often referred to as Wild fowl eggs).
They dig to a depth of about 3-4meters deep to look for Guinea Fowl eggs and before any tourist would come to visit the Hot Spring and Mt Tavurvur Volcano, these boys are already there at the hot springs with about twenty to forty Guinea fowl eggs.
“We give these eggs to our mothers who then sell them for K3 and K4 to the local and international tourists who come to visit the Hot springs,” said Lawrence.
“We ask if they want it boiled, then we assist them to boil the eggs by placing the eggs inside the hot springs and letting it boil, when its cooked we take it out of the spring, and it is ready to be shelled and eaten.”
The hot spring is heated by an underwater volcanic vent, so they are careful not to burn their hands when handling the eggs in and out of the hot springs.
He added that the yellowish grown colour on sand around the hot spring area and towards the sea is sulphur, so they are really careful around that area too.
“Sometimes the visitors buy the eggs and take them back with them because one fowl egg is actually twice the size of a chicken egg.”
“The guinea fowl eggs have their season that starts from March right through but come November towards the New Year and the first two months, January and February are the months when we struggle to find these eggs because those are not the months for the hens to lay eggs.”
Lawrence further explained that the people of Matupit Island are like custodians to the Hot Spring and Mt Tavurvur, they look after that area and fend from the area.
“The money we collect from tourists and visitors coming into the area and the money we make from selling the fowl eggs actually helps us put food on the table and helps to pay for school fees and other bills also.”
He told PNG HAUSBUNG that for one visitor into the Hot spring area, they charge an entry fee of K5, and to climb up Mt Tavurvur they charge K50 per visitor and a tour guide will assist the climber up the volcano mountain, and all these money goes to taking care of their families.
They also have their wives, sisters, and mothers come and sell their handmade crafts like, earrings, necklaces, and other crafts near the hot spring.
Lawrence further detailed that, there are about 4 wards on Matupit Island and each month a Ward is assigned to take turn to look after the Hot Spring and Mt Tarvuvur and to come dig fowl eggs and sell them, so every month they rotate the wards and take turns.
“We don’t make much but it’s enough to sustain us, but we are lucky when there are cruise ships that bring many tourists.”
“Hot Spring and Mt Tavurvur is my life.”