Photographer's Note


At the outset, I have to admit, this is just a simple photo of an island at dusk, and it is at a place where poor photos are impossible to produce. I stood on a pier at the Manawa Hotel in Papeete, Tahiti, watching wistfully the sun beginning to set over Moorea, just 20 km (12 miles) to the northwest. Just the day before, we had been on Moorea, and could see Tahiti.

Disembarking from the Crystal Symphony in Papeete early in the morning on January 20, we boarded a shuttle bus to the Manawa Suite Resort on the northwestern corner of Tahiti, a gathering place for passengers scheduled to fly out 16 hours later, at midnight, for Los Angeles. Manawa Resorts was close to the airport and it offered a stunning view of Moorea at sunset.

We joined a 4-hour tour, “Tahiti Circle Island,” operated by the Marama Tours of Tahiti. The circumference of the island is 120 km (72 miles) or exactly twice that of Moorea, and the mountains, although not the jagged peaks of Moorea, rise twice as high, and the valleys in between are as fertile as any tropical paradise on earth. We drove in a minibus along the coastal highway encircling the island. The young driver, Thor, the son of a Tahitian mother and a German father, drove the counterclockwise course much as his father's compatriot the Formula-1 champion, Michael Schumacher, might have driven it — at full throttle. Happily, he made a number of pit stops at crucial sightseeing points. We saw a botanical garden abounding in tropical flora, waterfalls rising hundreds of feet, and the rugged northern coast where high waves offer surfers their daily adrenaline rush. A cliff with a blowhole created in the dynamiting of a cliff during the construction of the road during WWII, behaves like a super subwoofer. A thunderous boom punctuates each wave crashing onto the cliff, invoking visions of a dragon about to emerge from its subterranean lair.

This is precisely the view shown again and again in the 1984 Mel Gibson film, "Mutiny on the Bounty." The Society Islands include Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora, certainly among the most beautiful sites on the planet. Geologically speaking, they are new, only about 2.5 million years old, formed as volcanic islands. The saga of Mutiny on the Bounty, refers to the 1790 episode of a young, impetuous naval officer, Fletcher Christian, leading a mutiny against the cruel master of the ship, Captain William Bligh. He and his fellow mutineers set the captain and 15 of his loyalists on a small boat. The mutineers first return to Tahiti, but are not welcomed by the natives. Some of the Islanders are allowed to accompany them as they set sail eastward. Thirteen hundred miles (2100 km) away they discover Pitcairn Island, a virtual spec in the vast Pacific, and there they settle. Their descendants after 224 years continue to inhabit the island. Meanwhile, Captain Bligh navigates his tiny boat all the way to East Timor, and saves the lives of the sailors who decided to stay with him.

I will post photos of Pitcairn Island, and of some of the residents coming out in a longboat to greet the Symphony. Please, note the comments below by Chris Jules and Stephen Nunney.

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6774 W: 470 N: 12149] (41261)
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