Where do you go next when you have gone to the place where you have wanted to go the most-Tibet? Perhaps, I should have started by going to a less exciting place. Having seen most of Europe, the Middle East, Holy Lands, I probably should have chosen to visit South America, Africa, or Australia before traveling to the Rooftop of the World. Having been richly blessed by being able to visit the land of lamas, I have also been confronted with the dilemma of where to go next.
My friend, Dr. Norbu (the Dalai Lama's brother), suggested that I should visit Mongolia. The country of the Gobi Desert has all the personal travel requirements for me. It is off the beaten-track, and you won't be running into many Americans tourists. Above all, the culture and way of life is so unlike anything that we see in the West. These are some of the reasons that I loved Tibet so much. I want different...not more of the same. Had I not owed my wife a respite from another arduous trip like the recent one to South Asia, I probably would have taken Dr. Norbu's advice and gone to Mongolia. However, I had promised her the next time I went out of country for research and writing, we would go to a place with sand and sun. Dr. Norbu reminded her that Mongolia has both sun and sand in abundance, but this did not convince her.
True to my promise made while living in less than ideal or even acceptable conditions in India, I promised her sand and sun. Therefore, we have pretty much decided upon that the South Pacific for our next port of call. Tentatively, we plan to island hop starting with Easter Island off the coast of Chile. Easter Island has those mysterious megalith faces facing the surf and the sun. Then I would like to fly eleven hundred miles to Pitcairn Island where the mutineers of the HMS Bounty landed to start their utopian experiment free from the British Royal Navy. After visiting this island paradise that turned into a living hell for the followers of Fletcher Christian, the next logical spot would be Tahiti where much of the "Mutiny on the Bounty" took place. I would love to see what bread trees look like-the reason for the Bounty's trip.
However, this proposed trip doesn't promise the lure and attraction like Tibet, Nepal, and India provided. Easter Island doesn't have the Potala Palace of Lhasa. Pitcairn doesn't promise of a Himalayan adventure, and Tahiti doesn't offer saffron-robed monks. Therefore, I am in the process of scrambling to add an island or two to push this trip to the near height of the Tibetan trip, which is set for Christmas time next year. In my research, I came across Christmas Island, which lies north by northwest of Tahiti. While researching this diminutive island, I couldn't find anything that would add sufficiently to my mystique-lacking adventure. Then I discovered that the Andrews Sisters in 1946 made a record entitled, "Christmas Island." The lyrics contain the following captivating lines:
They don't write words like that any more, do they?
This is where I could use your help. I need two things for this trip: additional suggestions of islands and magazine contacts that would give me a several thousands dollar advance to get this trip off the ground. If you have any suggestions for either issue, please e-mail me. We have thought about spending some time in the Chilean mountains since you must land in Santiago, Chile to get to Easter Island. Besides, the mountains might remind us of the Himalayans.
However, the inclusion of Christmas Island along with the islands of Easter, Pitcairn, and Tahiti provides an auspicious promise for the future. The song ends with these haunting words:
Perhaps, if we spend Christmas on Christmas Island, all of our dreams will come true. Get ready Mongolia, the Campbell caravan is coming soon.