Escaping to the South Seas

Probably since from when I first learned there was a warm ocean populated with numerous tropical islands I have felt a pull toward the islands of the Pacific. They have always seemed so exotic and romantic: warm waters meeting sandy beaches, gently swaying palm trees and enchanting ocean sunrises and sunsets.

I’m not sure exactly when these fantasies were planted in my brain; but it wouldn’t surprise me if they began in my early youth when I would have been first exposed to romantic travel posters such as this one:

Such posters encapsulated the various allures of the Pacific islands:

  • adventurous hikes up the sides of volcanoes in anticipation of a rewarding overview of a tropical  island in all its beauty;
  • warm placid waters joined to golden beaches; and
  • brown-skinned beauties hinting at other pleasures that might be found there.

The plane plays into the romanticism of the setting, as well.  Its arrival marks the end of a journey of, not hours, but days; making the voyage to such distant places a life defining experience.

Pacific islands also appealed to me as refuges for people seeking to  escape and simply disappear for reasons known only to them. That’s must be why I have always enjoyed this SCTV parody of the 1950 feature South Sea Sinner.

Those were the fantasies at least, but the reality can be quite different.

  • Volcanoes are prone to eruptions and can trigger earthquakes and tsunamis.
  • Warm Pacific waters also harbour predatory nasties while ocean riptides make swimming dangerous.
  • Despite the peace and love hinted at by the brown-skinned beauty, some Pacific cultures were quite violent toward the inhabitants of other islands.
  • Long haul flights may carry you to a life defining experience, but the voyage can still be exhausting.
  • People seeking to disappear often have dishonourable motivations.

But reality is not allowed to intrude on such fantasies and I continued to fantasise off and on over the years of a life on a Pacific island. This is a tragic state of affairs for someone who wished to follow in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson and Paul Gauguin while being raised in the snowy wilds of northern Canada.

Now that I have grown older and entered a comfortable retirement these thoughts of a Pacific island escape have again begun invading my thoughts even though it can be argued that my Australian home is actually a Pacific island. Still, in recent times this desire to escape has been re-awakened within me. Mostly it is a reaction to the current state of the world. I have grown tired of divisive governments that, instead of serving their citizens, seem to exist only to enrich their corporate masters. I have also grown disheartened by the Mid-East’s ongoing turmoils and the sparking tensions between Russia and the Ukraine. My belief that civilisation was on a one-way path toward the widespread establishment of social liberal societies, peace and economic prosperity has been sorely tested in recent years.

Maybe I am looking to disappear into a small corner of the globe in the hope of recapturing a simpler, more altruistic time. Perhaps I am being naïve but I have this expectation that I can find some peace of mind on a tropical Pacific island.

It’s all quite academic, however, as family responsibilities make escape impossible for the foreseeable future. As a balm for my thwarted ambitions I have instead recently turned to recalling the times I have vacationed on various Pacific islands; namely New Zealand, Lord Howe Island, French Polynesia (New Caledonia and Tahiti) and Hawaii.

So these thoughts are going to be the muse for my next series of posts. Hopefully, in this way I will also be able to clarify my own thinking on just how viable and desirable actually living on a Pacific island would be for someone like me.



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