By Evan Osnos, Chicago Tribune
Outside, shirtless children romp on streets without cars. Barefoot men hover around women sitting on the ground selling betel nut, the green seed that is Asia's answer to chewing tobacco and stains teeth the color of oxblood. It's a typical afternoon in this South Pacific capital.
Inside, Abel has the big couches and heavy air conditioning of an American McMansion. In a country where most people live in huts, his house is audaciously out of step.
Abel, head of the Surfing Association and the scion of an influential family, is a brawny father in his late 30s with a shiny shaved head. When he talks, he likes to pummel the surfer stereotype.
"Twenty years ago, people in Papua New Guinea called us surfer bums," he said. "But we are proving to our critics that, as surfers, we can build an industry that is sustainable and creating jobs."