It comes back, received in the same manner -- by village drumbeat -- and carries on down the road. Everyone in the village has a signature drumming pattern that's too complicated for me. When I use the garamut, I just beat out some nonsense, and they say, 'Oh, that must be Justin trying to reach the chief!'" We've never seen anything like it in our 20 years traveling together. Usually we let serendipity be our guide, but this time we signed up with Justin and, yes, a cruise line. Not an oversized floating resort but an expedition cruise that promised authentic experiences in the hard-to-reach spots of Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific. Tauck World Discovery chartered a small luxury ship, the Orion, to carry 85 guests and 75 crew members on a 12-day trip, using Zodiacs to maneuver to shore. Still, this is a guided, planned itinerary without much room for serendipity. I'm skeptical. It's clear we're part of a cruise when I look at us, so different from the Watam revelers. Outsiders on Papua New Guinea are simply, not maliciously, called dim-dims. Dim as in witted, and we rate a double -- our faces all zinced up with sunscreen, large floppy hats, baggy clothing mostly in the khaki shade, dark, googly eyeglasses. I start to feel we have no chance of a genuine welcome beyond this show for the cruise people. But what a show it is. A gigantic, thrumming dragon soon appears, its scarlet-faced head created with a clutch of pandanus branches, feathers, paint and shells. We follow the dragon along an immaculate path into the village proper. Thatch houses for the families of Watam's seven clans flank both sides of a common area, which is more like a grassy thoroughfare. Here the dragon disassembles into a score of men, each embellished with body paint, shells, bones, tusks and feathers, dancing up a storm. They sing. They soar like birds. They rattle like serpents. Their skin carries the scent of sweet red dye and coconut oil. We're experiencing this thanks to Justin, an amiable soul with a Santa Claus frame and a heart to match.