A few weeks after my expedition on Umboi Island, David Woetzel and Garth Guessman arrived in Papua New Guinea. It’s now been ten years since our two expeditions in 2004, but what we learned from interviewing natives—that still needs more publicity, for few Americans have heard about our discoveries in cryptozoology. Consider the following quotations from Searching for Ropens and Finding God (fourth edition):
Guessman and Woetzel left California October 17, arriving in the city of Lae on October 19, Papua New Guinea time, where they met missionary Jim Blume and his wife . . . According to Blume, in a wide area of Papua New Guinea, many nationals give similar descriptions: bat-like wings, long body, tail with a flange, pelican-like bill, and a “comb” (more rounded than horn-like) on the back of the head.
Guessman and Woetzel arrive at an airport in Papua New Guinea
Interviews by Blume suggest that the bioluminescence may relate to secretions that seem to drip from the creatures as they fly, like “sparklers” falling to the ground. The secretions are said to burn human skin, even with serious burns. . . .
Rather than take a ship, as I had, those three [David Woetzel, Garth Guessman, and Jacob Kepas] flew to Umboi Island in a small plane, searching the landscape as they passed over the center of the island. Because the pilot had no interest in zigzagging, they flew directly to the northern coast which they followed to the air strip at Lab Lab.
Here the three ropen investigators met Peter Ake, magistrate of Mararamu Village, and the four men took a banana boat along the northeast coast. Kepas interprets between English and Tok Pisin, but Peter also interprets between English and the local dialect of Kovai.
Stopping to refuel at Kampalap, they learned that villagers occasionally see the ropen as it leaves a cave, most recently three weeks earlier. . . . The creature flies to a promontory north of the village, landing and waiting on a tree top before flying out to the reef. . . . Guessman, Kepas, Peter, and Woetzel continued on the banana boat northwest, leaving it near Aupwel, where they were greeted by many local villagers. An older man, Patrik Sual . . . told the investigators that he sees the ropen once a month, only from a distance; it flies from mountain to mountain.
The three men not only came close to ropen habitat, they became close to the villagers, becoming officially adopted into three families. They were honored as they received new names: Guessman was named Bok Sigil (Bok is a brown eagle, Sigil means “cliffs”); Woetzel, Ropen Lailai (Lailai is the tallest peak of Mount Sual); and Kepas, Ropen Barik (one of the major mountains of Umboi).
David Woetzel (left) and Garth Guessman (bottom)
Bono, the crater lake of Mount Sual on Umboi Island
Page 97, continued
On October 23rd, Guessman, Woetzel, and Kepas hiked up Mount Sual with five men and four boys; they descended into the caldera, setting up camp fifty meters from the shore of Lake Bono. Their lookout post, near the bushes six meters from the shore, gave a panoramic view of the lake, but after a grueling climb the first night of observations tested their resolve to stay awake. . . . On the third night, rain stopped observations. Previous ropen sightings suggest these peaks, including Mount Sual, harbor one of the creature’s resting spots. Unfortunately these three nights at Lake Bono gave little rest for man, none for the ropen. Disappointed, the men returned to Arot on the fourth day, sliding down the muddy trail in the rain. Two days later their luck would improve.
Thank you to Garth Guessman and to David Woetzel for allowing us to learn of their expedition through their photos and the records of their interviews, only a small portion of which can be included in this post.
The last leg of our journey took us through the villages of the western coast and down to the government station of Bunsel. While at Bunsel we met some folks that explained to us their traditional belief that the Ropen feasts on a particular kind of large mollusk. We had heard reports from other villages about these clams (some of which are reported to litter mount Bel). But the villagers were able to show us some of the shells, as big as 5 feet (1.5 m) in diameter!
Let’s compare the words of four witnesses: three natives on Umboi Island and one British biologist on the mainland of New Guinea. Each describes flying lights: on two sides of Umboi and on the mainland to the west of Umboi.