Wednesday, September 9, 2015

After Pitcairn: Tahiti

The Norfolk guys and I decided to drive clockwise around Tahiti.  Our first stop was the James Norman Hall Home, which is a replica of the house where James Norman Hall used to live.

In 1920, the two Americans Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall moved to Tahiti after fighting in World War I, to start a new life in a magical place.  Originally they set out to write South Pacific travel books together, but later on they learned about the mutiny on the Bounty and wrote The Bounty Trilogy.

Today, the James Norman Hall Home is a museum about the life of Hall and his writing.  We were greeted by a Tahitian woman.  When the Norfolk guys mentioned that they were Bounty mutineer descendants, and that we had just visited Pitcairn, she got ecstatic.  She asked us a ton of questions, and then insisted that we eat lunch at her friend's restaurant on the south side of the island because he would also be excited.  As a gift, she gave each of a us an autobiography of James Norman Hall.

Bounty monument at Point Venus
After touring the museum, we continued our drive and stopped at Point Venus along Matavai Bay, which is where Captain Wallis discovered Tahiti, and where Captain Bligh landed to collect breadfruit trees before the mutiny.  There was a Bounty monument there.

Our next stop was the Gauguin museum restaurant on the south side of the island, the place suggested by the woman at the James Norman Hall Home.  We were greeted by the owner Roger, who was excited to meet two descendants of the Bounty mutineers.  He asked them a ton of questions, and then introduced us to an old couple at the restaurant.

The old couple was from Sausalito, California.  They had sailed from San Diego to the South Pacific in their own yacht 10 years ago, and had been sailing around the South Pacific since then.  The husband was fascinated with the Bounty story.  He had the upmost respect for Captain Bligh, both for his humanitarianism for letting his crew relax in Tahiti for nearly six months, and for his outstanding seamanship in making the epic journey across the Pacific in an open boat after the mutiny.

The husband was also fascinated with the early days of Pitcairn.  He discussed three theories about what really happened to Fletcher Christian, and wanted to know which theory the Norfolk guys believed.  The first theory is that he was murdered on Pitcairn, which is the most accepted theory.  The second theory is that he somehow escaped Pitcairn and made it back to England.  There had been reported sightings of him in England after the mutiny, but the reliability of those sightings is questionable.  The third theory is that John Adams was really Fletcher Christian.  Some have said that the real John Adams was not educated enough to convert the island to Christianity and lead the small community, and that Fletcher Christian had disguised himself as John Adams.  But it is doubted that Fletcher Christian could have pulled this off without somebody blowing his cover.

Snowy believed the first theory, but Possum actually leaned toward the other two.  To me, the other two sounded like wild conspiracy theories.

To my surprise, the yachties had never been to Pitcairn.  They were intrigued that somebody like me had gone there.

We continued our drive and stopped at the Museum of Tahiti and the Islands, which is an excellent museum about Polynesian culture.  We then returned to our hotel for dinner.

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