In the Highlands the production of high-quality tea is being promoted. The heavy rains are good for this crop. Many highlanders work on these plantations, and so they are becoming part of the new economy. It remains to be seen if this is a good thing, or if it will mean the destruction of their traditions, as in so many other places. Coffee, of the arabica type, is also being strongly developed. Almost along the line of the equator, these highlands display a savage ferocity, chaotic landscapes which hide a sublime beauty. The subtle beauty of the queen orchid along the tortuous path of the furrows etched deep into the land. This is a country of villages and of village people, who communicate by means of echoes and who grunt in greeting. The women are in charge of the pigs, the true wealth of the highlanders. Sometimes, when they are breast-feeding their young children, the women will also suckle the young pigs. Fire has always been very important for these mountain peoples. They know how to light one whatever the circumstances, and though now they can easily get matches or lighters, the Eneca show us how to light a fire in a matter of seconds, using just a few pieces of dry straw, a fine strip of bamboo and a splintered trunk. Today they have gathered together to prepare MONO. This is an ancient recipe, and they all take part. It is a ritual, and the traditions must be strictly adhered to. They make a large fire, and place stones on it to heat up. These stones will later be placed in the hole they will dig in the ground, and there the food will be cooked. Meanwhile, they get the food ready: they cut the squash, peel the yam and the sweet potatoes, clean the ‘grim’ – a type of vegetable, similar to spinach – and remove the leaves from the corn cobs. The ‘monos’, the main ingredient, are small, sweet bananas, which they scrape with a bamboo cane knife, shredding them into small pieces. Once cooked, this pulp will be of the texture of a thick bechamel sauce. Once they have finished digging, the hole is lined with grass and banana leaves, so that the food does not touch the soil. Then, they place the red-hot stones in layers, separated from the food with banana leaves. Yet another use for bamboo is to carry water from the river. The underground oven needs enough humidity to ensure that the food will be cooked without burning the leaves. This region of the Highlands has always been self-sufficient. Before there was any contact with the outside world, the million natives that lived here got all the food they needed from the land. They traded among each other, either by barter, or using the kinas, shells of mother of pearl, made into crescent shapes, which still today are very valuable. They wear them around their necks at the ceremonies and dances. Of lower value were the toras, circular seashells with a hole at the centre, which were threaded to make necklaces. The official currency of PNG is now called the kina, divided into one hundred toras. Bamboo is their most important raw material. They crush and peel the canes, then weave them together to make the walls and the floors of their houses. They also use bamboo to make their bows and arrows. Over twenty varieties of this flexible cane grow here, and it is also used to make kitchen utensils, knives and even musical instruments, like this one, very similar to a Jew’s harp. Each man takes care of his own weapons. From when they are children, they learn to make spears, bows, axes and different types of arrows, like this one with three tips, which is especially good for hunting birds. The string of their bows is also made from bamboo. A fine strip, slightly more than one centimetre in width, is softened over the fire, and then fixed to the ends of the bow to give the necessary pressure. Two hours later, and the primitive pressure cooker has done its job – the food is ready. Taking care not to burn themselves on the still-hot stones, they take out each layer of leaves, with the different foods ready to serve. The food is shared out equally, following strict protocol. No one gets more, no one less – that could lead to serious conflict.