When I was a high school student, there was not much academically that captivated my imagination-with two exceptions. Books about quests for utopias enthralled me and stories of sailing ships and the seas submersed me into adventures. I read them all. In my mind, I sailed with Horatio Hornblower and imagined myself in Dana's Two Years before the Mast. I climbed the Himalayas with Hugh Conway when he and his party stumbled across Shangri-La. I sailed with Thor Hyderdahl to Easter Island and braved storms on the Kon Tiki. I also mutinied with Fletcher Christian and shared time with him and the Polynesian woman on Tahiti and later on Pitcairn Island.
But alas, I was still in high school and my fascination with the sea and paradise had to wait. My wanderlust had to be put on the back burner, in part because I lived in Pittsburgh and had to further my education, get a job and raise a family. However, like the cicadas returning after years of dormancy, the fascination with the South Pacific and utopian quests has returned to me like a tsunami.
Last summer, I was able to visit the birthplace of Shangri-La when I went to Tibet. However, the Chinese occupy that utopia. My wife and I spent a year planning for our trek to the rooftop of the world, which is truly one of the most remote parts of the world. Even today, very few Westerners have the opportunity to visit the forbidden city of Lhasa. It would be an ideal place for a paradise, although I didn't find it there. Perhaps, after the occupying army leaves, Shangri-La will be rediscovered in the land of the lamas.
I hope that during this coming Christmas holiday, my wife and I will be able to journey to the South Pacific and retrace the travels of Hyderdahl and Christian in quest for another utopia. It will be a goldmine of articles and pictures for my writing as was the Tibetan trip. Most Americans know the rudimentary account of the mutiny onboard the HMS Bounty and the settling Pitcairn from movies or the book by Nordhoff. Most are familiar with the tyrannical, antisocial Captain Bligh and the desire of the mutineers to find release from his oppression and a new lease on life. Nonetheless, few know what took place in the ensuring years after they landed on the island. What happened was that paradise soon went to hell in a hand basket with killings, drunkenness, hostility, and racial discord.
In my research and planning for my South Seas expedition, I have tried to come up with a workable itinerary that could be wedged in between the first and second semesters of teaching. There are four islands where I would like to spend some time: Tahiti, Pitcairn, Easter, and Christmas. There is a big hitch with the trip: getting to Pitcairn. Much to my chagrin, I discovered that since it is the most remote inhabited islands in the Pacific, you can't get there from here-at least not by air. Only an occasional boat serves Pitcairn. Resolving the transportation issue with Pitcairn will make planning of the Tibetan trip a walk in the park. Having to hire our own steamer to get the right schedule would make the trip cost prohibitive. At least my wife is fortunate that I wasn't into reading about the polar expeditions of Scott, Shackleton, Amundsen, or Byrd; Tibet was taxing enough of a trip.
However, I need your help with two things on this island hopping trip:
1. I need to elicit advice from my readers on the Internet or my newspaper readers about getting to Pitcairn. Someone out there must have traveled to Pitcairn Island since the time of Fletcher Christian and his band of adventurers. How did you do it? Let me know by emailing me.
2. The second thing that I need is more costly. While teaching this semester an art history class, I was going on about how important the de' Medici family was for Renaissance art. They, along with other wealthy Florentine families, funded much of the art of the period. I need to find a present-day version of the de' Medici family. In that way, I could write travel articles for the world with their financial backing. I would even include their names in my literary masterpieces as did many of the Renaissance painters include their patrons in their works.
Therefore, if you can help me out with either or both of my problems with getting to paradise lost, email me at email@example.com.