Wamena – West Papua – highland first contact place
When missionaries began to penetrate the Baliem valley, it was necessary to build an airport which would provide them with supplies. This is the reason why the Indonesian village of Wamena was founded.
Today, Wamena is a city which provides Papua with contact to the rest of the world. The road which would connect the Baliem valley to the shore, has not yet been built. Wamena, with its large airport, became a strategic place for providing supplies and keeping the whole area in contact with the world. All the cars, building machinery, oil and petrol came to Wamena by air – in large by Hercules planes, or transport Trigan planes, or by planes of other cargo companies. In the city itself, many brick buildings sprang up, and several hotels and a modern Christian church were not long to follow. There are large shops, and a lot of cars on the streets.
Only occasionally will you meet an almost naked native dressed in only a koteka. These are a reminiscence of the old, but paradoxically very recent times. Wamena is also the most important business centre and place where aborigines from different tribes meet to trade with one another. In many cases they have to walk for a week to get to Wamena. Therefore, the old Wamena full of aborigines is definitely a thing of the past. The time-machine has steamrolled the small city, and soon it is going to do the same thing to the Baliem Valley and rest of Papua.