11 days 'til we shove off on our big sailing adventure to Mexico and the South Pacific.
Yesterday I received an e-mail from our friend Tomidan notifying us the media is reporting that a German cruiser was murdered and eaten by a cannibal on the island of Nuka Hiva in the Marquesas in French Polynesia.
German sailor/cruiser Stefan Ramin.
The story goes that Stefan, who was sailing French Polynesia with his girlfriend aboard his catamaran, was invited on a goat hunt with local Henri Haiti. He never returned. Officials found burning body parts in a remote part of the island, which are being tested in Paris.
Suspect Henri Haiti, with a tattoo of a tribe which is rumored to have a history of cannibalism.
Oh, for the love of... (sigh). You know, every other person we meet these days reminds us to be careful of pirates, of tsunamis, of hurricanes...and now we have to worry about cannibals?
And Mr. Haiti looks like such a nice guy in the shot above, too. I mean, seriously. I would trust him instinctively, based on the photo.
Yes, the Marquesas, and the island of Nuka Hiva ARE on our sailing itinerary.
Beautiful Nuka Hiva, sailor's paradise.
AND YES, Mr. Haiti is still at large, running amok, eyes blazing, machete in hand, no doubt.
OK, time for some reality orientation now.
First of all, noone really knows what actually happened. And the Marquesan people are horrified, and insist that cannibalism has been long dormant from the French Polynesian country.
I mean, who knows? These were two guys out in the country going hunting.
Things go wrong on hunting trips.
Also, they were two GUYS -- two MACHO guys who didn't even speak the same language. Perhaps they were drinking some ceremonial Kava and things got out of hand. Who knows?
Yes, there is a distant history of cannibalism in some tribal cultures, including in the Marquesas and other island destinations. But I emphasize the word "history."
There are no known tribes in modern times who practice cannibalism. And there is a logical explanation for why the practice has died out. In olden times, islands, and human tribes, were quite spread out and isolated. Hunger was certainly an issue at times...which would lead to...well, you know...
But times are different today. Even the most remote islands have at least some contact with airplanes and boats bringing junk food from all over the world.
And where's the incentive to go out and cannibalize when you've got burgers, fries and cupcakes available?
But there have been isolated instances of the practice in recent times.
Remember mass murderer Jeffrey Dahmer? Look how sweet and innocent he looks in this photo. Who knew that the night before he took this little puppy photo he chopped up his latest victim and threw him into the boulliabaise? And Mr. Dahmer did not live on an exotic island. He had no scary tattoos.
He lived in Milwaukee.
And what's safer and more All-American than Milwaukee? I mean, Laverne and Shirley lived there! Maybe they still do, for all I know. Shameezle, shamozzle...anyway, who knew there was a cannibal lurking about? Shirley might have even gone on a bad blind date with the guy!
And don't forget about the All-American Donner Party. These were good, Christian, salt of the earth types, heading west to establish homesteads in California. They were no different than you and me. But you know what? In the end, they were cannibals. AMERICAN cannibals. In Lake Tahoe!
Then there was the Olympic soccer team whose plane crashed in the Andes in 1972. These were educated, athletic young guys who I'm sure normally enjoyed a typical college diet of McDonalds, pizza and beer. But after a few weeks trapped in the Andes? Guess what? Cannibals.
Yes, some claim that humanity has a "natural" history of cannibalism, including the theory that the reason the Neanderthals died out is -- ahem -- we ate them.
And don't forget about another American -- Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lechter, as portrayed by Anthony Hopkins in "The Silence of the Lambs." He enjoyed the census taker's spleen with a fine Chianti, or so the story goes. But he was just a fictional character...
Or WAS he?
Oh, come on, I'm just kidding. I don't know. Who knows about any of this?
My point is this: danger is everywhere. And apparently, cannibalism, albeit extremely rare, is everywhere too. Even in America. I guess if people get insane enough, or hungry enough, it happens.
And anway, look on the bright side. It's not like the cannibal just starts knawing on your feet, plucking off one toe at a time. They most certainly just kill you first. So it's no different than any other club to the head or gunshot.
OK, how about this: I do have a plan: for the next 5 months, as we are sailing south through Mexico, our hope is to become the trimmest, slimmest and healthiest of our lives. So my plan is if we do run into that crazed, machete wielding Mr. Henri in the Marquesas, he'll pass us by and wait for the next, more meaty sailors.
This is, coincidentally, also my plan to prevent great white shark attacks.
So Tomidan...anymore interesting e-mails you want to send me before we shove off? :-]