Trip Reports

Contacts With The Natives (29-Apr-2001-13-42):
The more anthropologically inquisitive of the Captain's readers are no doubt wondering what he can tell them from his experience with the primitive natives of this far-off land regarding their customs and situation. The Captain is, as it turns out, quite an acute student of human culture and is happy to share the results of his research in this area with all.

The practice followed aboard Maverick is one of treading lightly and making furtive observations. It is accepted that Margaret Mead's researches were compromised by her actions and indeed her very presence among the people she was studying, so we aboard Maverick accept the principle of observation's corrupting influence as fundamental to our anthropological methodology. The theory of quantum mechanics predicts that, at the quantum level, the observer changes the events observed merely by the act of observing and although this principle runs contrary to sense it has been well established by experiment. It remains controversial whether this limitation applies to events in the world visible to the eye, but aboard Maverick we feel that its cautious application to our methodology is prudent. As a consequence, the reader can have confidence that our conclusions, based as they are on a statistically insignificant amount of empirical data, are authoritative.

There are two main concerns often expressed about such peoples and their present condition. One is that they may not have the benefits available to those living in the industrial societies; and the other is that they may. The Captain is very happy to be able to report that in both respects he has satisfied himself that things are much better than many have feared.

The natives, who, by the way, are somewhat less naked than one might have had reason to hope, do not as a rule live in poverty. By some system which the crew of Maverick was unable to discover despite much delicate questioning, everyone, or as the French say, tout le monde, drives around these rather small islands in $30,000 four wheel drive vehicles which are quite new; and yet we could not find the source of income used for the purchase thereof. The towns may be, in all, five blocks by five blocks, and these SUVs common as they are superfluous, yet employment seems sparse. Actually, adults in general are not plentiful and we wonder whether they arise before dawn to go to their employment in some mysterious industry and return after the crew of Maverick has retired to quarters. Or, as the Captain is rather fond of thinking, they don't work at all and have no need to leave the house. If the latter, the wisdom of this arrangement should be apparent to all and we commend it to the industrialized nations for further study.

Having satisfied themselves that poverty is not a problem, the crew set about to find out whether these poor people have been culturally destroyed by modern influences. They speak in odd grunts and howls that the Captain is quite certain cannot be translated into a civilized language, much like their French governors. (Here we make a little joke at the expense of the French who, the Captain does not tire of repeating, have never failed to treat him with unequalled courtesy and friendliness.) But to the question of adverse cultural influences there is again a happy answer, which is that, while there is evidence that the very best of western culture has indeed found its way here, there still is much rowing and tattooing, to everyone's delight.

Signs of western influence are abundant and varied but selective. The proprietress of a corner store we patronized was biding her time by viewing a Cheech and Chong movie dubbed in French. Later, the same woman was observed intently studying a Janet Jackson video. There was in evidence in another store an impressive display of Britney Spears posters, more extensive than even the Captain's own rather complete collection, and Celine Dion was heard in the background to enhance our shopping experience. At dinner at a modest restaurant, the small crowd was entertained by "Friends" on TV, dubbed in French, which was followed by a quite sophisticated Parisian program of the "Jerry Springer" ilk. No one was observed watching that stupid PBS stuff.

In sum, these people, attractive and of noble bearing, or at least attractive, while retaining their native traditions, have an innate desire and appreciation for the highest achievements of the modern societies and a subtle and discriminating understanding of what they have to offer. In these respects it is quite accurate to conclude they are not the more culturally deprived--or corrupted--than the average Marin County resident, have in fact similar tastes, and better skin. PS to Jimmy: Seaman Shrode is unable to respond to your generous offer of a more lucrative position on your boat because he is presently incarcerated after dropping an anchor on the Captain's foot. The extent to which this was intentional is currently under investigation. In Mr. Shrode's absence the Captain will be happy to respond in good faith on his behalf, as follows: He is very flattered by the offer and the respect which it implies for his abilities; but he regrets to say he must decline on the grounds that he is presently incarcerated.

Back to the Progress Chart | Back to Trip Reports
Progress ChartTrip ReportsPhoto GalleryAbout MaverickThe CrewGlossary & Technical Weather Check