One of the joys of traveling is watching your own expectations shoot rapidly up and down the scale depending on your surroundings. In San Diego “Rodney’s House” would be a cheeky little boutique hotel built around a homely bar, perhaps with occasional winking references to Only Fool’s & Horses to titillate homesick expats. Rooms would be $175 a night and would come complete with retro hairnets in the shower and bangers & mash for breakfast.
On the Sepik, “Rodney’s House” was a house. Built by Rodney. Out of sticks.
We were two days into our trip down the Sepik River, and our guide Josh (whose professionalism was deeply suspect by this point, but whose honesty, charm and enthusiasm was not) was wondering where we might stay the night. Fortunately his mate Rodney had a house nearby, so we slept there. On the floor. It was great!
Dinner was a gourmet feast of eggs (boiled in a kettle) with Kwik-Kook noodles (using water from aforementioned kettle) and tinned tuna. From our experience on the Inca Trail, we were half expecting our (hired and paid for) cook to rustle this up for us. Unfortunately “Cook” was one of many Sepik euphemisms, and there was a comic interlude when we looked at Josh, he looked at us, we looked at him, he looked at Lucy (being a woman and all) and we decided to prepare dinner ourselves.
We had a beautiful view of the river which runs through the centre of the village, with local kids as young as three paddling dugout canoes back and forth. It rained gently, so we read until dusk, at which point we retired to our mosquito net in the corner and pulled our travel towels over us for bedding. The local dugout makers had stopped adzing tree trunks so the village was quiet, other than the local boar-pigs trotting around underneath the house rutting and scuffling into the night. We breakfasted by the river on peanut butter and jam sandwiches, washed in the local waterfall, packed up our motorized dugout with our daypacks and a few local carvings and we headed off upriver.
We loved it. Five stars.