The top two items remaining in my Bucket List loom like insurmountable mountain peaks. In fact, one of them is just that: Mount Everest. No, I don’t desire to climb to the summit. My dream is to see the great peak from the ground (flying by seems like cheating). A former co-worker of mine made the trek to Base Camp a couple of years ago and marks it as her singular most intense experience.
But I aim to make the second item a reality first. Perhaps it will be my last great adventure as I’m not certain I could withstand the rigors of a multi-day trek at high altitude without a great deal of difficulty. My secondary plans seem a bit more manageable.
That dream is to visit Pitcairn Island, the last remaining outpost of the British Commonwealth in the Pacific Ocean. I’ve long been interested in the story of the Bounty mutiny and the tiny isle’s stamps fascinate me, as does the aspects of daily life in such a remote location. I’m a bit less intrigued with the recent court cases against some of the islanders, leaving a dark spot on this grand plan.
It won’t be easy getting there but the main obstacle will be expense. I am setting a goal of saving money for the next ten years. I’d like to see Pitcairn before I turn 60 years old.
The first step will be to fly to Papeete, Tahiti (via Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, and Auckland) then to the island of Mangareva in eastern French Polynesia. Twice in each of every three months, Pitcairn’s supply ship meets the weekly Tuesday flight from Tahiti at Mangareva for the 490-kilometer voyage to Pitcairn. The ship carries just twelve passengers and eight crew members, covering the distance in about 32 hours. The schedule allows for a four or eleven day stay on Pitcairn.
The seas are calmest (important for actually landing on Pitcairn itself as sometimes the waves make this impossible) between December and March. Bounty Day is on the 23rd of January during which the islanders commemorate the burning of the Bounty. Ideally, this is the time I’d like to visit during.
I once had a jar of Pitcairn honey, bee-keeping being one of the activities engaged by the islanders. In fact, it was sent to me by a pen-pal I once had who lived there. When I visit, I’d like to buy more of that honey (very tasty) as well as some of the wonderful handicrafts produced by the residents (especially a hand-carved model of the Bounty) as well as plenty of stamps!
Yes, this is my dream. Is it an unrealistic one? No, not really. But I will need to work really hard at saving money. The flights all the way to Tahiti will run approximately US $2,200 round-trip on the low end of things; I couldn’t find the cost of the flight to Mangareva but the boat to and from Pitcairn will cost just under US $4,000 round-trip. Home-stays (with Bounty descendants) cost an average of US $100 per day.
As I mentioned, you have the option of staying either four or eleven days, dependent on the supply ship’s schedule. I’d rather stay the maximum so that I’ll have time to get to know the majority of the inhabitants and perhaps help out on one of the local improvement projects. I think if I can manage to save 5000 baht each month over the next ten years that it will be definitely doable. That comes to 600,000 baht, or roughly US $20,000. More than enough.
I will start my Pitcairn fund in the New Year…