National Geographic : 1962 Jul
Tahiti, "Finest Island in the World" We wore wreaths of fern to keep the sweat from running down into our eyes. As we went higher, the ferns grew bigger and became literally trees, with tightly curled fronds at their tips like the scroll on a violin. Vengeful Skipper Introduced Mosquitoes I have seldom encountered rougher going than the trail to Lake Vaihiria. At every step we sank into black muck, sometimes nearly knee deep. Fallen trees lay across the track, and lantana tore at our bare legs and arms. Mosquitoes in clouds hung over the stream and sank their lances into our necks and legs. As I slapped and muttered, I thought of Her man Melville's account of how the mosquito, which did not exist in Tahiti before the com ing of the white man, was introduced. In Omoo, the book based on his stay in Tahiti in 1842, he wrote: "Some years previous, a whaling captain, touching at an adjoining bay, got into diffi culty with its inhabitants . .. deeming him self aggrieved, he resolved upon taking signal revenge. One night, he towed a rotten old water-cask ashore, and left it in a neglected Taro patch, where the ground was warm and moist. Hence the musquitoes. "I tried my best to learn the name of this man: and hereby do what I can to hand it down to posterity. It was Coleman-Nathan Coleman. The ship belonged to Nantucket. "When tormented by the musquitoes, I found much relief in coupling the word 'Cole man' with another of one syllable, and pro nouncing them together energetically." I must say I found satisfaction in doing the same thing, but little actual relief. I stopped frequently to take pictures, and as the day wore on, the guide and my ship mates drew farther ahead, until they were out of sight. The heavily laden porters fell mistook for "coarse broad grass," dredges small fish from shallow water KODACHROMESBY LUIS MARDEN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICSTAFF © N.G.S .