When walking down the street in Esfahan, Iran, a man walking in the opposite direction saw me and said "We love Americans!" ...and continued walking! Young women also came near us, and wanted their pictures taken with us, too. Quite amazing and unexpected!
Trip: Iran: Wonders of Persia
First Name: Lynne
Last Name: Rauscher-Davoust
The Clipper Odyssey recently received an upgrade with some brand-new patio furniture! Relax in style in between stops along the Dalmatian Coast on our upcoming Sicily with Montengro, Croatia, Albania & Greece expedition, or after an afternoon lecture on our Circumnavigations of the Black Sea.
Did you know that though the art of bungee jumping in the western world has been around for nearly 40 years, the origins of the sport date back much further? Take a cruise with us to Pentecost Island, Vanuatu in the South Pacific…
Home to naghol, or land diving, the men of Pentecost have been participating in this ritual for decades. Legend has it that a woman was trying to escape her abusive husband and ran up a tree to hide. He followed her and she jumped out of the tree—only after tying vines to her legs. He jumped after her and died on impact, while his wife survived the fall. There are differing reports, but some say the men of the island started diving so as not to be tricked by women again.
Over time the ritual has evolved—the main purpose now is to ensure a bountiful yam harvest. The ceremony takes place only in April and May, and once the men dive they, hopefully gently, grace the ground with their shoulders or head, blessing the soil.
Today, instead of jumping out of trees, they now jump off a manmade structure, around 98-feet tall. A trusted village elder measures the length of the vines, based solely on years of trial and error, and ties one to each foot. As the diver jumps, the crowd goes silent, likely holding their breath until he lands. The islanders then let out a collective sigh and rush to check on him before celebrating his courage.
View this original form of bungee jumping in person on our Faces of Melanesia expedition, March 23 – April 8, 2013.
First let me be straight about the trip. This is as close as I could get. It was 2005 (time flies), and the trip was "Realm of the Russian Bear." All 100 of us swarmed ashore at Gabriel Bay, Kamchatka. We thought it was a deserted fishing village, but it wasn't quite as deserted as we imagined. There was a family living there...a couple and their teenage daughters. The first thing the wife did was want to make tea for all of us. They'd probably been using the same tea bag for the last year, but she was willing to share it. I'm not sure I could be as hospitable if 100 strangers suddenly showed up on my doorstep. We politely declined. We spent a while asking them about their life and snapping photos. When we left, Shirley asked if there was anything they needed. I'm not sure if they were entitled to a landing fee, but all she said was "Could you spare some salt?" We left them a big bag of salt and some educational materials for thier daughters. They left us (me, at least) with a renewed feeling of what hospitality is like and a refreshing realization that there are still some places in the world where salt is worth more than money.
Trip: Northern Ring of Fire: Kamchatka & the Kuril Islands
First Name: Terry
Last Name: Shumaker
Written by Jack Grove
The Galápagos Islands have been referred to by Herman Melville as ‘enchanted,’ and by Charles Darwin as ‘a living laboratory of evolution.’ I was privileged to live there for seven years and carried out marine research in the archipelago for more than three decades. While I concur with both of these famous visitors, I would like to add that not only is a visit to this fabled island group an adventure, it is also a life-changing experience.
In June 2012, 10-year-old Ben was among the guests aboard the Isabela II. Seeing the world with fresh eyes, his learning experience enhanced my own, and I am certain the other adventurers were affected, as well.
Upon our arrival in Baltra, we had a few moments to visit the airport shops and I knew immediately this was going to be a great trip. Ben was looking around and became taken with a stuffed shark—I knew he was about to experience the real deal and couldn’t wait to get started.
Getting to know Ben and having the opportunity to share such an amazing place with this young boy was almost as heart-warming as my return to the islands.