surf riding at makemo, 1901
: Surf riding at Makemo, 1901.
The Log of
in the eastern Pacific
C. A. Pearson,
On leaving Anaa,
Pallander is less than impressed by life on tropical coral
islands; "the coral polyp is the meanest, the most hypocritical,
the most injudiciously
lionised criminal extant."
on Makemohe, he is sufficently inspired to write a excellent
the local surfboard riders, in particular noting the dangers of
shoreline, an "iron-bound coast," and sharks.
or Te Paritua, is one of the larger of the Tuamotu atolls in
69 km in length and 16.5 km in width, giving it a land area of
- SURF-RIDING - SHARKS
du Sud arrived in due course.
I was glad to
I said a
farewell to my gendarme friend, went on board, and
climbed into my
I needed a
a genuine Christian one, after that week on mats
and when the screw commenced to jog my pillow an hour
later, I sternly
refused to come on deck and bid Anaa a last farewell.
some barbarian wise man, is the spice of life and in the
there is no variety.
It is life
spice, a glary routine of sand and coral, flat to the taste as
to earth another romance of mine, the romance of a "coral
fits of thrill I have wasted over that heartless fraud!
is a school education and how truly awful the ideas it
sinner in my case was Ballantyne.
He taught me
to look on coral islands as paradises.
I shall never
still more offensive, we are urged to admire and applaud the
and to emulate him if possible !
how many tons of sentiment the civilised world has wasted over
polyp and his work.
boredom, and madness count for anything in the scale of crime,
polyp is the meanest, the most hypocritical, the most
Next morning I
got a practical illustration of the dangers of the
called me on the bridge, and, pointing ahead over the bows "
Do you see
anything there ? " he said.
I strained my
eyes in vain.
Yet we were
four miles of land.
two tiny dots of palm dipped up from the blue.
They were the
forerunners of the island of Makemo one of the few islands
possesses a passage deep enough to admit large steamers.
The current in
the pass was very violent, and it seemed to me that with all
of the machinery we were making little or no progress.
We got ashore
towards eight, however, inside the lagoon, where a goodly
flotilla of skiffs
and outrigger canoes were drawn up to receive us.
I had a letter
to one of the residents, a man named Elson, whose house lay
some two miles
from the inlet, and as I walked I had time to take stock of
things in superficial
Makemo as a centre
of culture is a big step
is very variable, and just then (February) the majority, I was
absent in Hikueru for the pearl-fisheries.
There was the
usual church with its home-made coloured windows and mildewed
the level avenue flanked by lilies, the cemetery, and the
prevails here in connection with the dead.
slabs marking the graves I repeatedly noticed stray piles of
They were the
sleeping-places of natives, who by spending a night among the
to obtain the privilege of communing with the dear departed.
and one which the missionaries are labouring to discourage.
There was goodly
array of Makemo youth frolicking in the water, some
surf-swimming on boards,
others merely dabbling.
ingenuous youngsters ought to have been at school, but I
suppose it was
a holiday, or perhaps school hours are arbitrary in the
is an exhilarating pastime and amusing to watch.
out to where the combers were tossing their manes, bestrided
and got carried home shrieking at a speed which Perseus in the
of Hermes might have envied.
I don't know
whether the sport is accompanied by much
dangerous to me.
On a flat
cushioned with fine sand cela va bien.
A tumble in
mud is the worst to be anticipated.
But on the
coast of Makemo it is another affair altogether.
Let one of
youngsters slip or miscalculate his distance by a few yards
and his skull
would be smashed like an egg.
I suppose the
dear things knew what they were at, however, for the sport
went on hour
after hour in a way that might have struck despair to the
heart of a Makemo
life-insurance company, if there was one.
minutes or so after I had finished admiring the picture of
flashing in creamy surf, came one of those little rencontres
the fatalistic island character so thoroughly.
On a level
of sand and coral innocent of waves a party of men were busy
On my asking
what they were doing, I was told "fishing for sharks ! "
to be actually the case, for the sharks in Makemo are a great
up for food than those in Tahiti and bite readily at anything.
" Even at schoolboys,"
was the tranquil reply.
I crossed the
belt of palms to the lagoon.
was going on, though of a more inoffensive description.
Two men came
under the weight of a load of something resembling salmon,
though of course
it wasn't salmon and more resembled the ulua of the Sandwich
In the wood
were more curiosities.
coco-nuts stealing them I presume for one could hardly admit
that these brown monkeys with straw satchels on their
backs were the
owners of plantations.
these mother's joys will get as soundly birched as we did when
I am glad I met those boys.
It is these
touches of home-made poetry that move one's heart in a foreign
Geoff Cater (2013) : Edwin
: Surf Riding at Makemo, 1901.