February 6, 2021:

I walked from my hotel in Papeete across from the Moorea ferries all the way to Point Venus, several miles, in part to exercise my injured leg, in larger part to channel the sailors of the Dolphin and the Endeavour and the Bounty who'd walked there in the 18th century.

The mythology was meaningful to me. The European man named Christian who found the pagan life so superior that he'd throw everything away to hold on to it. The confusion of the intellectuals who'd encountered a society which had not fallen yet worshipped the Devil. I wanted to go to the exact place where those events had unfolded. It was my primary reason for the trip.

Point Venus itself is tiny, and changed. The stream is still there, but the beach is all topless Demis and food carts. Maybe that's not such a change. Matavai Bay is still there. Cook anchored there on all three voyages; Bligh anchored there on his. Fletcher Christian grew his breadfruit plants on a little spit near the stream. James Cook had earlier housed his astronomical instruments in the same place.

There's almost no institutional memory of Cook in French Polynesia. There are monuments to Bougainville, but barely a nod to Cook. Here, just an odd little plinth. The sole remembrance of Cook in all these islands.

It happened, though. It happened right here.

I took the bus back to Papeete. I was not particularly tired, but I was in a great deal of physical pain.