Saturday, August 29, 2015

Day 3

I got up at 7 AM, and Simon cooked bacon and eggs for our breakfast.

The religion on the island is Seventh-day Adventism, a denomination of Christianity introduced to the island in the late 1800s.  One distinction of Seventh-day Adventism is that church service is on Saturday instead of Sunday.  Since today was Saturday, I planned to go to church.  I am not religious, but I was curious what church on Pitcairn was like.

I went to the church at 11 AM, which is when service starts.  There were maybe 20 people there, about half the island's population.  Both Dennis and Anneka were there as well.  The pastor is a contractor from Tahiti on the island for a one-year rotation.  We sang hymns, listened to a sermon, and did some praying.  In other words, it was a perfectly normal church service.

After lunch, I decided that I would explore more of the island with Dennis.  Dennis was staying with Meralda Warren, who lives right by the town square.  I walked to her house to see if Dennis was around.

Sitting in front of the house was Mavis Warren, Meralda's mother.  She was doing a crossword puzzle, so I asked if she did a lot of crossword puzzles.  She immediately got defensive, saying that she was doing a crossword puzzle only because it was the Sabbath, and that she was usually very busy and active.

Meralda found me in front of the house and invited me in.  Her house was a bit rustic, but otherwise pretty ordinary.  I noticed that she had a large freezer.  I also noticed that she had a wood-burning stove.  Dennis greeted me, and told me that Meralda was going to take him on a quad bike tour of part of the island.  They invited me along.

We drove by some beehives where some of the islanders produce honey to sell online.  Apparently that's a successful business on Pitcairn.  Meralda told us that the place with those beehives was where Fletcher Christian was murdered in the 1790s.

Highest Point
We drove up an incline and reached Highest Point, the highpoint of Pitcairn Island at 1,138 feet.  There was an excellent view of the entire island and of the ocean.  There was also a nice picnic table.  Meralda said that islanders often came to Highest Point for a picnic.  There was also a sign with lots of places listed along with how far away they were.  It listed Tahiti 2,325 kilometers away, Easter Island 2,065 kilometers away, and the South Pole 15,259 kilometers away, among other places.

We drove to Tedside on the west side of the island.  Tedside means other side.  We drove to the end of the road where we found a jetty being built.  Meralda explained to us that a new jetty was being built to provide an alternate place where longboats can land on the island, in the event that the water is too rough around Bounty Bay.  The jetty project was a big government project that required lots of labor.

Meralda told us that only about 10 guys on the island are young enough to work on it, and that all of them need to contribute.  She complained that Simon, my host, was not contributing but should be contributing.  She didn't seem to like Simon very much.  For some reason, I had mentioned Jacqui Christian, and Meralda didn't seem to like her either, saying that she was an attention-seeking girl.

Gannet's Ridge
On the way home, Meralda dropped me and Dennis off at Gannet's Ridge where we hiked onto a ridge and had an excellent view of the island.  From the ridge, we could clearly see the outer rim of the island's caldera.

When I got home, I chatted with Simon for a bit.  We discussed the sex abuse trials that occurred on the island about a decade ago.  It started when a father complained in England that his 11-year-old daughter had been sexually abused while visiting Pitcairn.  British officials looked into the matter and found that many of the girls on Pitcairn had been sexually abused by many of the men, and that this had been going on for many years.  Six men were convicted and sentenced to jail time.

Since Pitcairn did not have a jail, and since most of the labor force had been convicted, the men who were convicted were ordered to build their own jail, which they did.  Once it was completed, the men did their time.  However, the islanders still needed the men to man the longboats, so the convicted men were often let out of the jail to do their job.  The whole situation was a circus.

Since then, all of the convicted men have served their sentences, and all of them live on Pitcairn.  But the trials divided the island.  Many family members of those that were convicted denied the sexual abuse, and some even said that the girls made the whole thing up for money.  In fact, the islanders elected one of the convicted men as their mayor.  Shawn Christian, the current mayor of Pitcairn, is a convicted pedophile.

Simon explained to me that Meralda denied the abuse, and resented the girls who called out the abusers.  Jacqui Christian was one of those girls, which explained why Meralda spoke so negatively of Jacqui at the new jetty.  Simon also explained that Meralda resented outsiders, and that she was the biggest racist on the island, but not the only one.

As a result of the trials, the British government now sends an outside administrator to Pitcairn on a one-year rotation, as well as an outside police officer and social worker.  This is to prevent corruption, which was rampant before the trials.

After dinner, Dennis came to my house, and Simon, Shirley, Dennis, and I played a game of The Settlers of Catan.  Since we were not playing on a rocking boat, we were able to complete a game.  My goal was to introduce the game to Pitcairn, but Simon told me that he was pretty much the only person on the island who liked board games, so it was unlikely that my goal would be achieved.

No comments:

Post a Comment