Cruises are not my style of travelling but there are some islands where the only way to reach them is by boat, expensive boat, although I managed to pay much less than usual in this trip on the cruise Maxim Gorkiy. The schedule was: Callao - Eastern Island - Pitcairn Island - Tuamotu - Moorea - Bora Bora - Papeete. The total duration of the journey was 19 days.
On board the customers were Germans and the staffs Russians. Men were all dressed with neckties and the ladies exhibited their best clothes and jewellery. All were very well perfumed.
The Maxim Gorki remained two days in Peru. I went to the Plaza de Armas, in Lima. A taxi charges about $4, but I preferred to mix with the locals and boarded a crowded bus, together with women carrying their children on their back and bags with chickens alive. The centre of Lima was taken by the army; there were tanks and soldiers everywhere.
We sailed February 7, 2006 from Callao and arrived to Eastern Island 5 days later. But the captain did not risk to disembark people because the bad weather. Therefore, we just navigated around the island. People were really angry.
Now we had to navigate for two long days to Pitcairn. I was preoccupied. I was making this journey especially for Pitcairn because the rest of the islands I knew them already from past travels. There live the descendants of the famous Mutiny of the Bounty.
I was not hungry because of my worries about Pitcairn and ate little, just one or two daily lobsters with mayonnaise, blinis with caviar and fruits in the evenings on deck. If I do not disembark in Pitcairn will suffer a lot; it would be the first time in my life that my traveller star abandon me, because I always managed to get in all the hard reaching destinations that I planed, even forbidden or dangerous. I threatened the captain to jump out of the Maxim Gorky to swim until Pitcairn, and wait there for another cruise to rescue me to the Gambier archipelago. He requested me to be patient and to trust him. Every day we meet and soon we become friends. He was born in Saint Petersburg (then Leningrad), but served as a sailor in Vladivostok, a city that I know very well, and he feels nostalgia when we talk in his mother language about Russia. He advises me that during 12 years, he could never disembark the tourists in Pitcairn with the Maxim Gorky because of the treacherous waters surrounding that island. Nevertheless, he will try to make an especial effort this time and help me to land in Pitcairn to accomplish my dream.
That night I asked the four sparkling stars of the Southern Cross, close to the Centaur Constellation, to help me to disembark in Pitcairn
In Spanish we say: NO HAY MAL QUE POR BIEN NO VENGA. And thus, when we reached Pitcairn two days later, the captain could not refuse to disembark in a programmed scheduled island for the second time (otherwise there would have been a second mutiny of the Bounty!) and in spite of having the waters still more treacherous than in Eastern island, 80 or so of the passengers managed to reach Pitcairn in the local boats (I was the first one because I waited before the gate for hours!).
The captain decided to give us 3 hours time in Pitcairn. Hurrah! I felt in the Seventh Heaven! Everybody was happy; however, out of the 600 tourists in the Maxim Gorky less than 80 wanted to disembark. Most of the Germans just wanted to relax and were satisfied with looking at the island from the swimming pool drinking Martinis.
I had time to visit Adams tomb (together with his wife's and his daughter's), Christian cave, the school, Town Hall, museum (entrance fee $2), the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and the nature in general.
The total population is about 50 people. All the Pitcairn natives migrated to Norfolk Island, in Australia, in 1856, but about 40 returned to Pitcairn. Recently there have been reported children sexual abuses, but I did not talk about this with the locals. They were all nice with me, very old in general, and only saw 3 children of a same mother in the port. It seems that there live only 7 minors presently in the island.
There is no asphalt in the island and the people walk or take a motorcycle with four wheels. To get from the pier, called Bounty Bay, until Adamstown, you need to climb hard up through a kind of road. The island is small but very green and beautiful with many endemic plants, plenty of fruits, such as banana, mango, coconuts, etc. The people also fish and have chickens and some agricultural products. I saw selling milk from Chile (probably bought in the neighbouring Eastern Island).
The locals do not lock their houses, scattered around the tiny island, that is why sometimes the tourists have pilfered spoons and other daily life items from the houses, simple items but very valuable for them since there are no shops to buy more, and for that reason many times tourists have been refused to disembark in the island, even when the waters were calm.
Pitcairn, owing to its impenetrability, is considered by many travellers as the Holy Grail Island, even more difficulty to land there than to Tristan de Cunha or Tokelau. Indeed, after having travelled to Pitcairn you feel that you have been in a very special place.
The locals are waiting the tourists in the pier to give them flowers. Fakarava is an atoll very flat; people are aware that within 20 years the atoll will be swallowed up by the waters, but nobody wants to migrate to Tahiti. They prefer the quiet life of their tiny islet.
They sell beautiful black pearls very cheap. I bought some for my daughters.
The beaches belong to the islanders and you need to ask permission to have a bath. They are all nice and always grant it.
The Maxim Gorky navigated the whole night to arrive to the next island in the morning.
It was Sunday and I went walking to the church, a few kilometres far from the pier. Some stopped their cars offering me a ride, but I gently declined because I wanted to walk on the terra firma, to feel it under my sandals, tired of the ship. People are very faithful and after the service they invited me to participate in the appetizers, cakes and coffee prepared in an improvised table besides the church. Usually in churches, synagogues, Hindu temples, Buddhist pagodas and mosques you can observe the real life of the locals. I always visit all the religious places of the locals when I travel to a new place, and integrate with them, whatever their faith.
In the supermarkets they do not sell beers on Sundays; it is forbidden. I bought a fresh coconut and made a trekking to a traditional village up the mountains. In the afternoon I returned to my ship. We navigated further.
BORA BORA had changed a lot since my last visit a few years ago. Now there are many luxurious hotels like palafitos, in the sea. I walked around the island refusing rides and took a drink in a famous place called Bloody Marys where I read the names of the famous personages who have taken dinner there: Julio Iglesias, Gerard Depardieu, Ringo Star, Harrison Ford, The Carpenters, Pierce Brosnan… I drank a papaya juice and enjoyed the atmosphere, but I did not envy them. They are rich in money, I know, but I am rich in travel experiences. They do not know the astonishingly beautiful planet Earth as well as an inveterate traveller does.
In the night I returned to my ship to continue the journey.
I travelled by local buses to the south of the island, that has a form like the number 8. During my last three trips in the past to Tahiti I never managed to visit the south, called Tahiti Iti, or small Tahiti (Tahiti Nui means great Tahiti). There, in the village of Tautira, I was interested in visiting the grave of a great Spanish explorer of the XVIII century who died in Tahiti, Domingo Bonechea, but instead of his tomb there is a Catholic Church with a plaque dedicated to his memory, written in French, Spanish, Tahitian and Basque languages (curiously not in English), and a huge cross in the same place where Captain Cook, furious because the Spaniards had been in Tahiti, destroyed the tomb.
In the evening I returned to the Maxim Gorki, took my bag, said good bye to all my friends and flew back to Spain.
Hasta la vista!