Posted: 200 Nautical Miles From Samoa
The Bucket List is getting shorter. We have been to a number of fantastic places worldwide. Right now we are in Oceania in the South Pacific and and traveling some 4000 miles from Tahiti to Sydney on the good ship, Seven Seas Navigator. That is more than the transcontinental distance across the United States.
If you ever want to feel insignificant, sail for two days without seeing anything nature or man made. There is a vastness in these perfectly blue waters that defies definition. You have the magic of the internet but you are 5-6 hours behind the rest of the madding crowd. I went to grab a transmitted copy of the Wall Street journal the other day and someone exclaimed it was yesterday’s ! Think about that. Who really cares?
Of course you can eat and drink yourself to ruin if you try but there is more than that here. I listened to a talk by a professor about the origins of Polynesia both from a geologic as well as cultural point of view. It seems these islands sprang in volcanic fury from the floor of the ocean and then that displacement created barrier reefs. Ironically over the millennia the tower of Bora Bora will sink into the ocean creating an atoll. Not global warming but Mother Nature down in the engine room cooking up another curve ball for humanity. Don’t mess with her.
On the cultural side, this is all part of an unending migration that began in Africa 130,000 years ago and has wended it way East and West and North and South in man’s quest for sustenance and wealth. This particular tributary of exploration originated in central Asia exploding onto Taiwan, the Philippines, Borneo and then to Polynesia. From there it moved to Hawaii and Easter Island.
The speed and extent of this was bound by technology of a sort. They had to build better boats, sail material and most of all mastering how to navigate into the wind. It is said that the change of direction in the trade winds over hundreds if not thousands of years brought new frontiers to be conquered and challenges to be met. I hope this does not sound too wacky but without the blare of news and far from the shenanigans of the titans of countries and industry, you get a totally different sense of what life is all about.
It is a bit sad to think about this paradise being center stage on the theater of colonization. Let’s just say you are fat dumb and happy on Tahiti or Bora Bora and this dude comes in on his sailing ship and claims your land for the king or queen of England or Spain or whatever. He will trade you wampum or better yet weapons so you can come into the real world. He will bring some diseases you have never heard of. You aren’t even who you think you are because you are now known as Queenstown or New Caledonia. What were you thinking?
It gets better. You are now part of an empire and must defend it from other thieves. We are going to build fortifications, bring troops and maybe even commandeer you. Lastly we are going to bring in missionaries to make all this legal. You are getting screwed but you can go to church on Sunday and thank God for it.
The Dutch but especially the French, Spaniards, and Great Britain had it nailed down. They would trade islands and territories like a Monopoly board. If you had a war, to the victor belongs the spoils. In the Spanish American War we got Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Philippines. I can’t make this stuff up.
Some “protectorates” actually worked out pretty well. Regardless of population they have been awarded independent country status. French Polynesia (Tahiti) has around 280,000 people, the Cook islands at 17,000 and tiny Tokelau with 1837 at last count. For the right price you might become president, king or queen or at least prime minister of Tokelau. Your embassy will probably be a two bedroom apartment in Queens but hey, who is keeping score?
The surreality of this trip is in how far you are from home and also being several time zones away. At the end of our journey we will be just shy of 10,000 miles from LaLa Land. Today were are six hours behind New York and tomorrow we will be 23 hours ahead.Somewhere along the line we are going to lose Wednesday or is it Thursday? You all are aware of just how screwed up I am to start with. This only makes matters worse. Have pity on my poor wife.
A good friend’s wife was operated on for lung cancer yesterday.We prayed for her. My fellow Georgetown alumni had a memorial service on campus at the Lauinger Library yesterday. Joe Lauinger C’67 was killed in Viet Nam 50 years ago to the day. I do not take lightly we are fortunate enough to make this trip. I am not unaware of the travails of the world. I think I will stop right now and just say thank you for all I have. I hope you do too.
Ted The Great
Polynesia (from the Greek words meaning “many islands”) is a large grouping of over one thousand Islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean.
The current population of Polynesia is 681,822 as of Saturday, January 4, 2020, based on the latest United Nations estimates. Polynesia population is equivalent to 0.01% of the total world population.
The Polynesians set out in rather large outrigger canoes with family, worldly goods and their dogs and cattle or what ever. The nearest land mass was Hawaii some 2500 miles away. This was in 400-500 AD. They had to navigate by the stars. It is a miracle they landed on the Big island. It was a male dominated society so no one ever asked for directions.
Originally all the islands’ flora was created by birds bringing seeds in their craws or in their poop. Mother Nature at work again