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Photographer's Note

Five years ago we sailed out of Los Angeles on the Seabourn Odyssey bound for Tahiti. (My job was as a lecturer onboard the elegant ship.) After traveling for a week, we crossed the Equator into the South Pacific.

The islands of the South Pacific (just like the Hawaiian Islands north of the equator) are as close to paradise as anywhere on earth, but with an ambiguous caveat of their own. Nuku Hiva is the largest of the Marquises Archipelago and belongs to France. The islands were settled around the time of Christ 2000 years ago by Polynesians sailing east from Korea, Taiwan and East Asia. The settlements of the Hawaiian Islands, Society Islands (including Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora), as well as the Cook Islands, and New Zealand coming considerably, dating perhaps as late as 1200. Food became of prime importance. Breadfruit was the staple, but taro, plantain, and manioc also played a big part. For animal protein, fish was the main source; Pigs, chickens and dogs were also cultivated, and hunted when they took to the wild. But they too were in short supply in feeding a population estimated to be between 50,000-100,000.

The gruesome practice of cannibalism took place among the Polynesians, but the question of why it started in the first place is open to speculation. In Central America during the same period the Olmec, Maya, Toltec, and Aztecs tribes also practiced cannibalism, that is until the Spanish Conquistadors helped put and end to it. (Of course, they introduced their own grizzly practices, including slavery, diseases where no resistance existed among the natives, and forced conversion to Catholicism, etc). In Central America, among theories a variety of theories is that the priest-kings realized that the humans required animal proteins and could not survive strictly as vegetarians (probably not true). Another theory is that it started as ritual cannibalism involving the absorption of the physical strength and courage of the people they vanquished (probably true).On our visit to Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa, two of the Marquises islands of the Archipelago, we saw the graves of two Western celebrities Jacques Brell, the Belgian-born French crooner who lived in the mid-20th century, and the immortal post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin who lived in the late 19th century.

On our visit to Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa, two of the Marquises islands of the Archipelago, was in visiting a cemetery. In Nuku Hiva, we saw the last resting place for two Western celebrities Jacques Brell, the Belgian-born French crooner from the mid-20th century, and the immortal post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin the turn of the 20th century. I will upload photos of their graves a workshop.

Warm regards to my friends on Trekearth.

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6809 W: 476 N: 12167] (41253)
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