Monday, February 9, 2009

Polynesian Adventures

Sunday, February 1
Big day today! We’ll have a talk about Pitcairn Island (the Mutiny on the Bounty story!) Then we’ll sail around the island for pictures. Red alert is on because of the rotavirus, so the islanders (48 in all, representing nine families descended from the mutineers and the Polynesians they brought with them) will not come aboard; they are too isolated to take a chance. They will come along side for supplies however. The water is so blue here, tidi-bowl blue! The island is part of New Zealand which gives them aid for their grade school and the doctor on the island. The children have to go elsewhere for high school and college. We actually get the Superbowl here! Ron has a great time watching it in the theater-area even if his team doesn’t win.
Monday, February 2
Happy Groundhog’s Day—hope the groundhog didn’t see his shadow where you are! He surely would see it here! I spend the day on the pool deck reading. We are very careful about the sun—it is fierce here! Ron attends a lecture about our ship and its navigation system. There is a lecture in the afternoon about Polynesian native culture which is very similar throughout the South Pacific. There are three cast—the chiefs, the kahunas (priests) and the rest of the clan members. Sex is pretty open as extended families live in the same large hut. It is taboo to have sex with children before puberty, but they play at it. Once they have their rites of passage, they are considered adults. Sex is encouraged with several partners, since pregnancy is believed to occur only by having sex with the same person repeatedly—or if a demi-god hovers over a female. The birth of girls is good since they will have the responsibility to care care of aged parents. If no girl is born by the third or fourth child, this boy will be raised and clothed as a girl, an umu. The chiefs are permitted to have sex with anyone over puberty, including the umus. I leave dinner early to catch the navigation lecture on the tv, then go up on the track and do my walk after sunset. It is a beautiful evening—reminds me of Hawaii.
Tuesday, February 3
There is a station on the tv that shows our heading, miles traveled and the current weather; we’ve gone 4808 miles so far. This will be our last day at sea before Tahiti! I wimp out after 20 minutes on the track. It’s just too hot at 7 am! Ron does 4 mi—what an animal. When we go to breakfast we are allowed to serve ourselves—a sure sign the red alert is over. Last day at sea before Tahiti; I go to a lecture on black pearls which Tahiti is famous for. They put a small piece of shell under the mantle of the oyster, then hang them from long ropes in the sea. Indonesia has gold-colored pearls and Japan raises white ones in cages. We play trivia with two nice couples from the UK before choir practice. There is a lecture in the afternoon about the Polynesian migrations which began in Southeast Asia, and consisted of three waves in the early hundreds AD, each one beginning where the last on left off. This explains the similarities between groups located on isolated islands great distances apart—such as the fact that most all seem to be patriarchal with many more taboos for women than men. Polynesia is generally located if you draw a triangle from New Zealand to Hawaii to Easter Island and back to NZ. The natives were able to travel the great distances because they developed great rafts with outriggers and sails; they could hold hundreds of people and their supplies. There is a wonderful presentation in the theater tonight about “South Pacific,” Including a featurette of the making of the movie (with Rossano Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor) in Kauai, a bit of the Broadway play with Mary Martin and Enzio Panza, and a “60 Minutes” piece with Diane Sawyer interviewing James Michener on location where the original story was placed. Michener was stationed in the South Pacific during WWII and the location and people inspired his first book “Tales of the south Pacific” which launched his career as a novelist. Some of the themes in the book, the play and the film were very controversial for the 1950s—single American girl having an affair with a widowed Frenchman with half-Polynesian children, and an American serviceman’s affair with an Asian islander. There was much pressure to leave these storylines out. I loved it! I am pumped and get my two-mile walk in before bed.
Wednesday, February 4
I wake up early and head out for a cup of coffee on deck 9; we are just sailing round the end of Tahiti (404 sq. mi and 170,000 pop.) into Papeete harbor—very clean, green and busy! We go into Papeete a couple hours before our tour and pick up some postcards, a tank top and a Coke--$20—a bit pricy. It is going to be a hot day! Our tour is wonderful. Eight of us in the back of a 4-wheeler Jeep head thru town, then stop at the bay where Captain Cook first landed—a great view. Then on to the Papenoo River and inland to the crater at the river’s source. 300” of rain a year contributes to this large source of fresh water with trout and eels in it! (The guide fed the eels bread and they darted out on the bank to grab it!) We take a dip in a pool of the river (no eels!), and one of the guides dives from a vertical wall of rock into the pool. It’s a rough ride into this national park area, and Teva, our guide, makes several stops to show us African tulip tree, miconia (an invasive plant here), and Polynesian hibiscus; (the flowers start our cream-colored, turn pink, then fall off in one day; and the leaves were used by the natives to cook and serve food). The On our way to have a swim at Lafayette Beach, a black sand beach, we see a mango tree heavy with fruit, a frangipani tree (plumeria) and a man carrying a breadfruit (about the size of a green kittenball). We get into a traffic jam, get slowed down by fire engines and a re the last couple on the ship before she sails. I never want that to happen again! After dinner we see “The Bounty” with Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins; it was filmed mainly on Moorea, across the water from Tahiti, and some on Pitcairn island!
Thursday, February 5
A day at sea before Rarotonga . The ocean is a bit rougher today, with some short showers. I manage to get our wet clothes from yesterday laundered—there’s a line!—while Ron has his walk. I have a great workout at yoga, then we catch two programs on Polynesian dance and Maori culture. Choir practice is so fun today. Ron finally figures out how to get a picture off the laptop and up to the photo shop.I win 30 min of internet time in a contest.
Friday, February 6 (Ron writes today!)
This is not a happy day—Sue woke up with the diarrhea today, felt obliged to call the doctor and was put on a 24-hour quarantine. She was devastated. As Murphy’s Law would have it, today is a shore excursion on a glass-bottomed boat to one of the Cook Islands—Rarotonga. I told her I would stay with her, but she said to and have fun (sort of). The seas were quite rough, but the Captain got the ship positioned so that we could safely get the tenders loaded and to shore. We took a nice bus ride around the island, stopping a lush lagoon. At that point we picked up snorkeling gear and piled into a glass-bottomed boat, about 20 to a boat. Traveled about 20 min to a part of the lagoon that had large silver clams about 14” in diameter, mantas, and a large variety of reef fish. The two local boys that were running the ship were very educated and full of energy, and tod us about their history and culture. Then we moved to a secluded part by the lagoon and the boys made us a great lunch the native way—fresh-cooked albacore tuna, fried bananas and onions with salads and buns. Then the boys put on a sarong-tying demonstration—for women and men; the men were instructed how to do the three-legged dance with a rock hanging down in the middle of their sarong—use your imagination! It was a real funny and informative presentation. The island people are famous for their friendliness. We also got an explanation about their tattoos—very family-oriented. This is a more lush island than Tahiti. The one boy gave us his e-mail and said there are bed and breakfasts that are very nice also. I forgot to take my wallet, so had to take a second trip to town to get some souvenirs and mail postcards. Sue was pretty bummed. She had only the one episode which is good, but still she missed the day trip. (I spent the day playing video games. I should have been working on the blog but I was too disappointed to accomplish anything!)
Saturday, February 7—Happy Birthday, Lannie!
Back to normal today. Several days at sea now before Auckland, Tasmania (Australia).
Ron attends a lecture, “Spying 101,” by a British agent while I catch up on my log. We will have choir practice at noon every day we are at sea. We’re going to do two songs in a passenger talent show, and a half-hour concert this week-end. I spend the better part of the afternoon watching “South Pacific” in the Cabaret Lounge. I don’t think I ever saw it before. I love the scenery on Kauai. Moorea was the inspiration for Bali Hai in the movie. I do my walk in the cool of the evening, then we watch “Mama Mia” before bed.
Sunday, February 8
The seas are pretty heavy today and it’s overcast. We try to stay busy. You need “sisu” on a day like this. We try to stay busy. A little coffee and orange juice before church, then a nice brunch in the dining room. We visit with a couple from Chicago (he reminds us of Tony Coletta) and a couple from Holland. The afternoon lecture is about the aboriginals of Australia. The presence of Europeans in Australia resulted in 90% of the aboriginals being wiped out—mainly by smallpox and relocation to unsuitable lands. They were nomadic in the most part, within their area called an “estate.” They were very connected to the land they inhabited, and relocation was devastating. By late afternoon the seas have calmed and dinner is very enjoyable. I have pot roast—just like home!
Monday, February 9—Happy Birthday, Aunt Shirley
This day at sea dawns bright with calm seas. We breakfast on the fantail again. The highlight of the morning is “On Deck for the Cure,” a 5k walk on the track to raise money for breast cancer research. It’s really hot by the time we finish—a cool shower before choir, lunch, then I spend time reading by the pool while Ron goes to another lecture by the British agent about the “Rainbow Warrior Incident”—the bombing of a Greenpeace ship by French intelligence because it was interfering with a planned French bomb test on a South Seas island. I spend the rest of the day in our cabin blogging. I order in a tuna sandwich for supper, but Ron goes to the Bistro for supper Then to the Cabaret Lounge for the night show. We cross the International Dateline tonight and lose a whole day. It will be Wednesday, February 11, when we wake up tomorrow. One more day at sea before Aukland.

1 comment:

  1. You both are doing such a great job of reporting your adventures and taking the beautiful pictures! We feel like we are there with you! Take care and God bless,
    John and Dar