Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My Tasty Little Bit of Pitcairn Island

I've had an interest for a while in the story of Pitcairn Island, the small mid-Atlantic (between New Zealand and South America) island that served as home to the mutineers from the HMS Bounty. After sending Captain Bligh and his loyalists off on a small rowboat in the late 1700's (and into their own extraordinary journey to civilization), the mutineers returned to Tahiti, from which they had recently departed, picked up a number of women (and men as slaves) and headed back out to sea. They happened up on the tiny, inhospitable island that would serve as their home. Shortly thereafter, the bounty burned, and any idea of leaving was gone. Thus began a settlement which still exists to this day, consisting primarily of descendents of the mutineers and their Tahitian brides (it's important to note that within a few years, most of the original Bounty mutineers had been murdered by some of those they has forcibly taken from Tahiti. Thus ended slavery on Pitcairn Island...

Today's Pitcairn population is about 50, with many more scattered throughout the world.

After a scandal a couple of years ago which involved a brand of sexual abuse of minors that perhaps can be partically blamed on the island's isolation (visits each year are infrequent), the British government, which many years ago accepted Pitcairn under its jurisdiction, has begun to help the island achieve a more robust ability to develop a small economy and, perhaps, even a tiny tourism industry (by necessity - Pitcairn is just a few square miles).

Before I heard of the scandal, and the extended trial that resulted, I had tried to order one of Pitcairn's few exports - honey, bred by tropical bees (and thus particulary good). For obvious reasons (the entire workforce was on trial), it was never charged to my credit card, and it never arrived.

I tried again this August, and now, judging by a charge which just showed up on my credit card, I might soon be seeing my uniquely exotic souvenir.

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