Remembering Pitcairn and Easter Island

Darren just posted about Pitcairn and Easter Island. I've actually been to both Pitcairn and Easter Island.

The 10 year anniversary of my return from Class Afloat was some time this past July. On the one hand I feel that I need to get a new story -- I mean, it was 10 years ago -- but the voyage was so incredible and got me to many places that I am unlikely to get back to again.

Pitcairn was a treat after 2 weeks at sea, sailing from Tahiti. The local people are very welcoming, and always take groups like ours -- and really any random sailors that make it there -- into their homes to stay with them. Cruise ships do stop there as well, but only for a few hours.

Since it's in the middle of the ocean with no large land masses nearby, a continual line of rain squalls passes over the island. It's brilliant blue sky with a shining sun, then it will rain for half an hour, coming down in just massive bursts of water, then the squall will pass and everything is sunny again. A lot of the earth is red, almost Martian red, and this of course turns to flowing mud.

So: scrambling all over the island in shorts, muddy and wet. Gathering breadfruit and bananas off the trees, bushwacking to make it to the peak on the island. Looking down at the rocks and surf below, filled with energy after being ship-bound, after having travelled all this way; amazed at the remoteness, gorged on the 30lb water melons fed to us by our hosts, revelling in the tropical wildness of it all.

Easter Island was pretty incredible as well. Misty, with these low clouds or fog hanging off the statues. Some semi-wild horses that roam around, which locals grab and ride bareback. And of course that aura of spookiness, of what are these great big stone things? The current residents don't seem to bear much relation to the people that built the statues: the little town and it's inhabitants feel seem very South American.

We camped when we were on Easter, so I remember falling asleep on the rim of the crater, filled with water, papyrus, and the standing stones all around. And those incredible South Pacific night skies, dark but brilliant with stars.

I can still remember the taste of the biscuits we ate. Flour, water, and baking soda, and very hard. But stamped with (what else?) an outline of the famous Easter Island statues. Only Eric Quane liked them, so we saved them for him to hoard underneath his bunk back on board ship.

And of course, me having to go back to the ship to study for an AP Calculus exam. Can you imagine being on Easter Island and having to study for a calculus exam?! Don't worry, I'm shaking my head over that one as well.

I really do have to go through all my slides, digitize them, and put them together in some sort of presentation format. I gave a couple of presentations after I got back, but slides are just so darned difficult to work with.

The Concordia, the ship I was on, was actually recently in Vancouver (it even managed to get stuck on a sand bar out by Richmond). I happened to be cycling around the sea wall, and I took some pictures.