Imagine getting married above the clouds

Weekender

By MALUM NALU
Well, that’s exactly what happened at the beautiful Rondon Ridge Lodge, high in the mountains overlooking Mt Hagen and the great Wahgi Valley on Monday, Sept 18, when a young couple had their wedding.
The bride, a lawyer from Western Highlands, tied the knot with her sweetheart, a surveyor from neighouring Jiwaka, that memorable day.
I was privileged to have been invited to the wedding by the bride’s family and I must admit that I’d never quite seen anything like it in my life.
Soft wedding music, panoramic views of Mt Hagen and the Wahgi Valley, and flowers of every colour that radiated that day as if to join in celebrations.
Family members from the two neighbouring provinces converged on Rondon Ridge to attend a special wedding that united not only the two young people, but also their families, and Western Highlands and Jiwaka provinces.
It also united a country as I, a Morobean, felt very much a part of the Western Highlands and Jiwaka families that unforgettable day.
It reflected that marriage is something that breaks all barriers, binding two people and their families, irrespective of where they come.
Caring staff, delicious meals, fine amenities and beautiful views make Rondon Ridge a spectacular wedding destination.
The lodge team interpreted the bridge and groom’s red and white colour scheme with flowers, greenery, bunting and, of course, that ‘above the clouds’ backdrop
I spent two nights at Rondon Ridge Lodge and can say that it is one of the best in the country.
The lodge, 7100 feet above sea level, overlooks the spectacular Wahgi Valley from its mountain home.
It is the pinnacle of luxury in a remote and rural setting overlooking the valley and the city of Mt Hagen, where tradition and history is juxtaposed against modern ways.
Rondon has 24-hour, eco-friendly electricity provided by its own hydroelectric power plant.
This generates clean, natural energy from a nearby mountain stream.
Rondon Ridge Lodge is home to 185 recorded bird species including birds of paradise, bowerbirds, honeyeaters and parrots.
This is the heart of the Highlands with its coffee and tea plantations, and extensive gardens, which supply fresh fruit and vegetables to the rest of the country.
The area is inhabited by the Melpa tribe, well known for a society where ‘big men’ earn status by accruing wealth, and then giving it all away in a ceremonial exchange called ‘moka’.
Rondon Ridge Lodge, owned by Trans Niugini Tours, was opened in 2006 to provide a luxurious introduction to other TNT lodges around the country, and also as a welcome stepping stone to civilisation before departing Mt Hagen.
Its sister lodges include Karawari Lodge in the lowlands of East Sepik, Malolo Plantation Lodge along the North Coast of Madang, Bensbach Wildlife Lodge in a far corner of Western, and Lake Murray Lodge in remote Western.
The company also owns the nine-berth ‘floating lodge, the Sepik Spirit, which was commissioned and built in Lae in 1989.
In the foyer of Rondon Ridge Lodge are pictures of international celebrities and local VIPs who’ve visited this place over the years.
The most-famous person to have stayed here is the great Mick Jagger, frontman of the legendary Rolling Stones, who slipped quietly into the country in 2014.
Evening at Rondon Ridge.
The wedding is over.
A Western Highlands lass and a Jiwaka lad.
Bonding the two provinces.
Hope for the future.
As I sit here, marvelling at the panorama of the spectacular Wahgi Valley below, I reflect on our country which has just celebrated 42 years of Independence.
The sun sets over the ranges, turning them a mystical purple, as I sit there mesmerised.

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