Friday, February 1, 2013

If there is a place where a man can grow old contentedly, it is on some quiet, drowsy atoll, where today is forever and tomorrow never comes, where men live and die, feast and sorrow, while the wind and the waves play over the wet sands and gleaming reefs", observed Julian Hillas, an Australian beachcomber who, during the 1940s, settled on Rakahanga in the northern Cook Islands atolls where some 250 people live on 1,000 acres around a nearly landlocked lagoon."

With these evocative words begins chapter 8 in this book which describes, amongst others, the story of Tom Neale on Suwarrow, one of the many incredible adventures of true-life Robinson Crusoes which make the real Robinson Crusoe's exploits look like a picnic on the beach.

Alexander Selkirk, upon whose adventures Crusoe was based, was washed ashore on an island west of Chile, where he lived quite handily until his rescue four years later. Part of this book's fascination is that readers are told how the various survivors spent the remainder of their lives after they returned home.

There is also a good bit of information about early voyages to the South Atlantic and the Pacific, the sealing and whaling trades, and life among the natives and early settlers in the South Seas. One of the accounts is of a woman who, along with her baby and Chinese servant, died of starvation on an island on the Great Barrier Reef. She left a journal detailing the bizarre circumstances of their demise. The incredible obstacles overcome by these resourceful, persevering souls will leave modern readers slack-jawed. No two stories are alike, and all are compelling.

Of course, once you've been to VILLA MAMANA on tropical Telekivava'u you can write your own story of having been a castaway in luxury!

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