Between Islands

Mar 30, 2019 - National Geographic Orion


I was in the middle of a dream when Louis Armstrong started singing “It’s A Wonderful World.” I couldn’t identify the source of the music wafting through the dark. Had I accidentally set a musical ringtone on my phone? Could I still be in New Orleans? Where is it that I am, and why does it feel like the world is undulating?

These questions I was grappling with when I was greeted in gentle Australian “good morning,” and came to realize where I was wasn’t a dream but instead aboard National Geographic Orion.

Speaking over the melody of Pops was Expedition Leader Adam Crop as the vessel made its way through the gentle swell of the South Pacific Ocean. I was laying in the exceedingly comfortable bed of my luxurious cabin, waking up on the first morning of our journey from Rapa Nui to Tahiti. Apparently, Adam likes to play music under his morning announcements, and his song of choice today was a classic of Armstrong’s.

We left Rapa Nui yesterday after a few magnificent days on the magical and mystical island. Even though we have all seen pictures of the famous moai statues, nothing can prepare you for experiencing their imposing majesty firsthand.

While on Rapa Nui (best known as Easter Island) we enjoyed a sunrise visit to Tongariki, which features a row of 15 of some of the most impressive moai on the island. While there, Rapa Nui musician Yoyo Tuki performed a sunrise concert with the statues as a backdrop. As if that wasn’t moving enough, he brought with him a full band and dancers to perform at our lunch picnic at Anakena beach—the site where the first Polynesian explorers first landed their canoes over 1000 years ago.

Today, we were on the first of two and a half days at sea, traveling between two of the most remote islands on the planet. Days at sea offer an opportunity to relax, eat a bit too much, and enjoy stimulating lectures.

Our first lecture was a fascinating presentation by Alex Searle on the history, construction, and restoration of the moai statues. That was followed by on overview of the impressive work of resident National Geographic photographer Stephen Alvarez. Otherwise, our day included lunch and breakfast on the breezy back deck, the handing out of snorkel gear, Zodiac safety demonstrations, the captain’s welcome dinner, and a screening of the documentary film Lost Continent of the Pacific—how right Mr. Armstrong was in reminding us of what a wonderful world it is, especially here aboard National Geographic Orion!

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About the Author

Jacob Edgar

Cultural Specialist

Jacob Edgar is an Ethnomusicologist, world music tastemaker and global explorer with an insatiable curiosity for the diverse ways in which people express themselves through music. Jacob’s adventures have taken him to dozens of countries, and hundreds of the world’s greatest international music festivals, showcases and performance venues in search of exceptional musical talents. Since 1998, Jacob has been the main music researcher for the acclaimed world music compilations label Putumayo World Music, contributing songs and liner notes to over 300 Putumayo collections that combined have sold over 15 million copies. In 2006, Jacob founded the record label Cumbancha, whose artists include some of the top names in international music. In 2009, Jacob embarked on a new adventure as host of a new music and travel television program Music Voyager. The series invites viewers to discover the exciting sounds of the planet and broadcasts on PBS and other stations around the world. While pursuing his undergraduate degree at Oberlin College, where he was a double major in History and Latin American Studies, Jacob conducted field research on music and society in Central America. His love of music took him to the West Coast where Jacob was awarded the Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities and graduated from University of California, Los Angeles in 1994 with a Masters in Ethnomusicology.

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