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Inside the Crocodile: The Papua New Guinea Journals by [Nicholson, Trish]
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Inside the Crocodile: The Papua New Guinea Journals Kindle Edition

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Length: 289 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Language: English
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Product Description

In the wilds of the most diverse nation on earth, while she copes with crocodiles under the blackboard and sorcery in the office, Trish Nicholson survives near-fatal malaria and mollifies irascible politicians and an ever-changing roster of bosses – realities of life for a development worker.

With a background in anthropology and a successful management career in Europe, five years on a development project in the remote West Sepik province of Papua New Guinea more than fulfils Trish Nicholson’s desire for a challenge. In extreme tropical conditions, with few only sometimes-passable roads, travel is by a balus – an alarmingly tiny plane, landing on airstrips cut with grass knives and squeezed between mountains. Students build their own schools, babies’ weights are recorded in rice bags and women walk for days, carrying their produce to market.

Physically tested by dense jungle and swaying vine bridges, Trish’s patience is stretched by nothing ever being what it seems and with ‘yes’ usually meaning ‘no’. Assignments in isolated outstations provide surreal moments, like the 80-year-old missionary in long friar’s robes revealing natty turquoise shorts as he tears away on an ancient motorbike. Adventures on nearby Pacific islands relieve the intensity of life in a close-knit community of nationals and a cosmopolitan mix of expat ‘characters’. Local women offer friendship, but their stories are often heart-breaking.

More chaos arrives with Frisbee, the dog she inherits when the project manager leaves, along with other project expats. Tensions increase between local factions supporting the project and those who feel threatened by it – and stuck in the middle is Trish. Her emotionally engaging memoir Inside the Crocodile is full of humour, adventure, iron determination and... Frisbee the dog. It is beautifully illustrated with colour photos of Trish’s time there.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 11495 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 178462442X
  • Publisher: Matador (25 June 2015)
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B010G81A3Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #278,036 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating travel memoir of cultural enlightenment, personal growth and adventure. 12 September 2015
By Kathleen Pooler - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Before I read Trish Nicholson’s travel memoir about her time as a development worker in Papua New Guinea, I have to admit that I knew very little about the country and its people. But the idea of an experienced social anthropologist and business professional taking on a five-year development project in this remote area of the world intrigued me on several levels. How does one leave the security of a well-established career and travel to the far reaches of the earth, into unknown and underdeveloped territory, to put skills to the test? And how does one survive in another culture without the amenities and social networks that seem to be necessary to not only survive but thrive and grow.

The author takes us unflinchingly into her experience—not sparing any details about the rugged terrain, fraying vine bridges across rivers; tiny, rickety, old planes that land in between mountains and carry her even deeper into uncivilized places ;and corrupt local politicians who thwart her efforts to bring organization and progress to the area. The reader is immersed in a culture where students build their own schools, babies’ weights are recorded in rice bags and women walk for days to sell their produce at markets.

Against the backdrop of this cultural immersion, is a personal story of close friendships forged by a common purpose to bring change and improvement to this underdeveloped area. One of my favorite characters is Frisbee, the dog who steals Trish’s heart and provides a source of comfort to her. We feel her pain when due to her required travels she is forced to leave Frisbee with a friend.

Trish captures the human experience with humor and passion. Her writing is descriptive and engaging. I was right there with her as she faced one obstacles after another—bouts with malaria, the extreme weather conditions, irascible politicians, saying goodbye to close friends, working with the locals to build a school. Interspersed throughout the text are quotes from the locals in their Pidgin language, which brings the reader even closer to the experience. A glossary is provided for quick and by the time I was halfway through the story, the foreign words were flowing.

The author answers the questions I posed in the beginning. Through this story, I learned that Papua New Guinea is considered to be “the most culturally diverse nation on earth”. Her vast experience, combined with her resilience and amazing spirit of adventure helped her to not only reach her goals to bring change and progress to a remote region of the world but also helped her to grow personally. It is in this transformation that this story which stemmed from her daily journaling, is such a worthwhile and inspirational read. She delivers on all counts—cultural enlightenment, personal growth and adventure. I highly recommend this fascinating travel memoir to anyone who enjoys reading about another culture and wants to enter into an adventuresome experience.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and absorbing 18 August 2015
By Bargee - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
This account of Dr Trish Nicholson's five and a half years in Papua New Guinea in the late eighties and early nineties is absolutely fascinating. Using her extensive diaries as the basis of her narrative, she takes us from a chilly wind-blown Scotland to her arrival and consequent culture shock in tropical, humid Papua New Guinea. Nothing daunted, however, she uses her great people skills plus the help and friendship of fellow expats such as Jim, PNG colleagues like the marvellous Clarkson, Vero and Martha, and Frisbee the Hound Dog to find her way in the maze of PNG life and bureaucracy. Her job was to reorganise, restructure and give training to the Department of Personnel Management in Sandaun as part of a project financed by the World Bank. However, this was not a challenge for the faint hearted. So many personnel lived in remote areas, and the records were such a mess, it even involved paying staff who were already dead!

In her task, I was often amazed at her ability to survive the mind-numbing procedural complexities combined with the sometimes petty and anarchic disregard for truth and transparency of those entrenched in the system. Fighting ongoing Malaria, dramas such as pay-back killings, vengeful jealousies and corrupt practices, it took more than Trish's strength to cope. Towards the end of her stay, she became dangerously ill with Malaria. Nevertheless, she builds wonderful friendships with her PNG colleagues and earns immense respect for her courage and pluck in tackling almost anything that comes her way. This includes a three day hike through dense and inhospitable bush that would have sent me scurrying for home about one hour into it, particularly the idea of crossing bridges made of rotting rope or vine over deep river gorges.

There are delightful side characters, such as Sebby, who gate-crashed seminars and scribbled on blackboards intended for training notes. Frisbee the fly-everywhere dog also adds a special canine touch to the story.

The book is quite long and very detailed, but this serves to underscore the chaotic situations Dr Nicholson, or rather 'Tris' had to unravel. I found it completely absorbing and was easily able to transport myself there into the time, period and place. I was also glad she provided a glossary of Pidgin terms at the end and enjoyed the photos that gave visual reality to some of the characters and situations. All in all, this is a wonderful journal, a great memoir and a riveting read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deeply rewarding read! 13 September 2015
By Stavros - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
From the cold climes of Scotland to the tropical heat of Papua New Guinea, social anthropologist Dr. Trish Nicholson, tasked with the job of assisting local staff in reorganising and providing training for the Department of Personnel Management in Sandaun Province, as part of a project financed by the World Bank, shares with us five and-a-half years of experience - from the frustrating, to the dangerous, to the enchanting.

This is a fascinating, colorful journey through a very different sort of life. The writing is replete with words and expressions particular to the region, such as wantoks: those of the same lineage, sharing the same language, or, tabus: in-laws, and many others, that lend the narrative a vibrant 'felt life' aura. This allows us, additionally, through the many incidents, progressions and reversals, to be transported into an exotic world few of us would otherwise experience.

It is a generous, entertaining memoir rooted in the love of place, language, and culture of the sort that we have come to expect of Dr. Nicholson. At times whimsical, often dramatic, Inside the Crocodile will linger in the mind long after the last page has been savoured. Highly recommended.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read on a complex and fascinating subject. 28 September 2015
By Ken - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ms. Nicholson's book is both entertaining and very well written. She quickly draws the reader in to the challenges and rewards of her posting in Papua New Guinea, bringing to life on the pages a fascinating part of the world.

What most impressed me about her book is the sensitivity with which she avoids getting caught up in the competing stereotypical narratives which tend to dominate such accounts: either the "wonderful Westerners bringing wisdom to backward lands" or "the terrible Westerners destroying the paradise they are visiting." Her vivid and unflinching accounts extend her sympathies in all directions, and end up giving an unusually balanced picture of the complex interaction between Western and traditional ways. Nicholson never preaches, but her book provides much basis for reflection. (I've traveled in PNG and have done development work elsewhere, so it was refreshing to read such a realistic account.)

But most of all, it is simply a very engaging read, written by an impressive lady. You'll have a hard time putting it down, as you wonder what adventure or setback she will encounter next. Strongly recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating, richly-composed look at life in Papua New Guinea 5 July 2016
By The Wishing Shelf Awards - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
This book was entered and was a gold medal winner in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards. This is what our readers thought:

Title: Inside the Crocodile: The Papua New Guinea Journals
Author: Trish Nicholson
Star Rating: 5 Stars
Number of Readers: 27
Editing: 10/10
Style: 10/10
Content: 10/10
Cover: 9/10
Of the 27 readers:
27 would read another book by this author.
25 thought the cover was excellent.
27 felt the pacing was excellent.
16 felt the best part of the book was the writing style.
11 felt the content was the best part of the book, in particular, the vast array of problems the author faced and how she resolved them.

Readers’ Comments
‘A thoroughly fascinating story. I have never visited that part of the world but now I’d love to. The writing style was perfect for a book of this nature: light with an excellent balance of pace and descriptive prose.’ Female reader, aged 45
‘By far the best book in this year’s Wishing Shelf Book Awards. An intriguing look at life in Papua New Guinea from the POV of a development worker. The author’s love of the cultures and the characters she meets shows in her writing. I’d recommend this to anybody interested in travel and understanding life in a different and often difficult country.’ Male reader. Aged 38
‘The book starts so well with the crocodile and talks of sorcery. And, from there on, it keeps getting better. I was sad at the end when she left but the last line of the book made me smile. A lovely read, warm and packed full of cultural richness.’ Female reader, aged 57

‘A fascinating, richly-composed look at life in Papua New Guinea. A Gold Medal Winner and highly recommended.’ The Wishing Shelf Book Awards

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