A few closing thoughts on Easter Island as we now sail westward.
As the most isolated island in the world, you should consider putting Easter on your bucket list but would recommend arriving by air vs. sea. There are 20 cruise ships each year with the destination on their itinerary, but for every ten ships, only two are able to make landfall successfully. So each year, sixteen ships simply ‘sail-by’ and if you have a good telephoto lens on your camera, you might be able to snap a decent picture of a few Moai statues. We’ve beat the odds the past two years as we’ve been able to transport some passengers to shore but as you’ve read, not without incident each time. The uplift & swells around the island are relentless – the winds in the Pacific have nothing to slow or obstruct them.
Again, I would recommend traveling to Easter Island via air. Flights arrive on a weekly basis from both Chile (from the east) and Tahiti (from the west). There are a handful of commercial hotels on the island – nothing extravagant, but they appear clean & safe. I will warn you that while the crime rate is extremely low (no place for anyone to run) the residents are very passive, indifferent, and do nothing to promote tourism. Their demeanor is such that you feel like you’re in the way – little to no eye contact is made with tourists and very few greetings. If the Chilean government & citizens were serious about revenue generation, they would invest in some type of safe harbor port to properly accommodate cruise ships. The annual revenue potential to the economy is huge and could go a long way to help improve the infrastructure on the island.
We are now sailing toward Tahiti – roughly 2,200 miles west, & scheduled to arrive in 5 days. We have an interesting ‘sail-by’ of Pitcarin Island (should arrive tomorrow morning) and as I understand it, several local island families will be boarding the ship for a day to interact with passengers and sell their native goods. We’ll be attending a lecture later today to learn more and as we do, I’ll share the information with you. The history of Pitcairn is said to be quite interesting but at this point, I know nothing.
OK…now I feel foolish! If my geography and history teachers are following this blog (and I believe one of them is) I’m sure he’s laughing about now – I KNOW, I SHOULD’VE PAID MORE ATTENTION IN CLASS, AND THE ‘D‘ GRADE I WAS GIVEN WAS WARRANTED!!
Pitcairn is the very tiny island in the south Pacific where the infamous Mutiny on the Bounty concluded. The lecture we attended earlier today was fascinating – let me share my notes with you.
The Pitcairn Islands (officially four) are named Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie, & Oeno – are a group of islands in the southern Pacific that are the last remaining British overseas territory in the Pacific. Pitcairn Island itself was named after Midshipman Robert Pitcairn, a fifteen-year-old crewmember who was the first to sight it. In 1790, the mutineers of the Bounty and their Tahitian companions, some of whom were actually kidnapped from Tahiti, settled on Pitcairn Island and then set fire to the Bounty. We were told they were trying to find a place to hide from the British Navy, and they say that the wreck is still visible underwater in what is now known as Bounty Bay. The ship itself was discovered in 1957 by National Geographic explorer Luis Marden. I’m rambling here, but the island is only 2miles wide X 1 mile long, & located about 1,200 miles from Tahiti. Like Easter Island, it’s out in the middle of nowhere! There are currently 57 residents on the island – that’s it – and all residents are descendants from the mutineers (nine generations) who threw Captain Bly and several dozen others off the Bounty. They say it’s the least populated jurisdiction in the world, although it’s not a sovereign nation. The largest population it held was back in 1937 with 233 people, but through emigration to New Zealand, the population has dwindled to what it is now.
The people on Pitcairn receive mail FOUR times a year from Tahiti – that’s it! They have no TV, no Radio, but apparently DO have internet. They receive TWO shipments of food & other supplies each year, all by sea. There’s no doctor or dentist on the island – if they get seriously ill, a special boat has to be dispatched from Tahiti, and again, that’s 1,200 west. The few children are sent to New Zealand for education.
We learned today that we will be off-loading a special shipment of supplies from Lima, Peru – primarily water & rice. We also found out that our plans to have the majority of the islander’s board our ship has changed. Apparently, 23 people (35% of the population) have contracted the H2N3 flu virus – the same flu strain devastating North America at the moment and is said to be highly contagious. They believe it was brought to the island on a passing cruise ship 6 weeks ago. They said we’ll still be dropping the shipment of goods from Peru – apparently into to one of their longboats pulled alongside, and since it’s a one-way operation, no cross-contamination is expected. This is disappointing – the residents spend much of their time making baskets, hats, & other handmade goods that they sell to cruise ship passengers – this is apparently one of very few sources of income for them.
We are expected to arrive mid-morning tomorrow. Our goal is to get a few photos of the island from the ship, and hopefully some shots as they off-load the shipment. I will post the following day. Weather continues to be good – a few rain showers, but primarily sunshine and calm seas. All is good!