According to legend, on the remote island nation of Papua New Guinea (PNG), the Asaro tribe of the Eastern Highlands were once defeated in battle by a fierce enemy tribe. Forced to flee for their lives into the Asaro River, the tribe waited until it was safe to return to their native homes. At dusk, they slowly rose from the muddy river banks and returned to see what was left of their village. The enemy, seeing them rise from the river covered in dried clay, believed them to be evil spirits, and they fled in fear of their ghost-like appearances.
Realizing this new power, the elders of the Asaro tribe cunningly decided to create a new battle dress code: warriors were to cover themselves from head to toe in dried clay from the Asaro river and create elaborate masks with scary features, using pigs teeth and tusks to accentuate ghoulish features. The tribe would don this elaborate costume to raid neighboring villages by slowly moving into enemy territory in the misty, early morning light, walking down from the mountain like evil spirits. Not surprisingly, villagers were easily frightened away by the Asaro’s specter-like movements and appearances, allowing for an easy victory.
Because of their famous battle costumers, the tribe soon came to be known as the “Mudmen,” a name that tribal members still claim proudly to this day (though they no longer use their costumes to scare and raid neighboring villages!). One such man is Espional.
Espional was born and raised in Papua New Guinea. A native to the Asaro Mud Men tribe, his fondest memories of his childhood were simply spending time in his village, fishing, hunting, and going to school with his friends. “I love where I live,” he admits, “because of the many cultures and traditions that I have. I’m very proud of that.” As one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, Papua New Guinea is full of numerous villages, most of which are revolve around farming. Like all of the PNG villages, Espional’s is unique in its legends, customs, and traditions. Espional’s passion and love for his country, and especially for his particular village, eventually led him to apply for a tourist job: “I saw an advertisement for a position in the daily newspaper, and I applied and got the job!”
Today, Espional welcomes tour groups from all over the world and has the incredible opportunity to show them the beauty and diversity of the cultures and traditions of Papua New Guinea. “My goals for my future were to build a home, have my own tour company, and have a guest house for tourists to come straight to my village and enjoy our lifestyle.” Now, he says, his dreams have come true: he is not only building a new home, but he just registered his very own tour company! “I love being a tour guide,” Espional shares, “I love sharing my village with travelers who come visit my country.”
Come travel through the amazingly diverse and naturally beautiful Papua New Guinea with Espional, and you will be in for an adventure of a lifetime!