Monday, 1 July 2013

My travel arrangements are cast in concrete and as flexible as ...

You already knew my flights to and from Papeete were booked. Since then I have booked myself into the hotel airport (across the road from the small airport) for two nights. On Sunday I hope to get a ride around the island and see all I want to see - Captain Cook and Charles Darwin's Point of Venus, and the local Gauguin museum. If I am really lucky I might even pass some of the small villages in which the artist lived. My guide on the Marquesas Islands tells me that nothing happens on a Sunday (well it didn't when he was last on Tahiti 17 years ago)and that my plans might come to naught. But I am positive that something will happen. When I return to Papeete around midday before flying back to Oz, I will have the rest of the daylight to see some things I might miss on that 1st Sunday. Whatever I will see will be seen. Nothing more nothing less. Then early Monday morning I have booked a long flight via Nuku Hiva the main Marquesas Island to the island Hiva Oa. This is the island where Gauguin died, so I will charge up the hill to the cemetery and look at his plaque. Somewhere around all of this, I will meet Philip Beardmore who will guide me across the seas and the land for 10 nights and 9 days. He offered and I accepted to sail in his ketch around as many islands as we can in the time. Eventually we will end up at Nuku Hiva and I will fly away. Sailing alone with a stranger is a calculated risk but I believe I will have a magical time. What I love in anticipation of travelling with a local who speaks English is that I will have real conversations about real things that are local so I gain a much deeper understanding of the place and its people, and will meet real people in a way that I would not have as an independent traveller not attached to anyone. I may get to see things that my research has never mentioned and I may miss some things that seem important now. But the thrill of rocking and rolling on seas because there are apparently no calm lagoons around the islands, of having my meals cooked for me, and of the pleasure of regularity of days and nights at sea interspersed with on-land discoveries- all of this amounts to a spectacular possible wonder. Being there and doing it will be different from my dreams but I have no doubt it will be memorable.

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