Saturday, May 1, 2010

Weekly Desktop Photo.3.

Paying Our Respects To A Great Author,Robert Louis Stevenson.

My desktop photo this week is of a fruit bat, seen on the climb  to the grave of
Robert Louis Stevenson on Mt Vaea

Robert Louis Stevenson.
1.Born: November 13, 1850
2.Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
3.Published over 12 novels and 20 short stories as well as poetry and non-fiction
4.Died:Vailima, Upolu Island,Samoa.December 3, 1894
5.Most Popular Works: Treasure Island, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, New Arabian Nights, and A Children's Garden of Verses.

Holidaying in Samoa, April 2010, Kay and I made a point of visiting the home of  Robert Louis Stevenson.We actually made two visits.The first, the day after arrival in Apia, saw us arrive by taxi at his house on the hill overlooking Apia in the area of Vailima.Now that word will stick with you , as each time you down a chilled local beer you'll see it right in front of you.Nice drop!
Arriving at his home, now a museum to his memory and works, we approached  through a croton hedged driveway opening on to a very large lawn area, fringed by colorful tropical plants backdropped by the surrounding jungle.We had our driver drop us at the first glimpse of the house,rather than drive right up to it.This is the best way to really take in such a beautiful setting , of lush but well tended lawn,and tropical gardens,while walking towards the museum.A guided tour took us through the many rooms.Most set up as it would have been in R L Stevenson's day.We had the history of the property explained, and how it has been  added to  and restored, over the many years and changes of ownership since his young death in 1894.
It was hot and humid, and with Kay getting over a chesty cough, we decided not to try the walk to his grave at the top of the hill, but spent a pleasant time wandering the gardens, and relaxing at the waterfall and pool just nearby.
But on the last day before we flew home, we just had to go back.And this time fit, and determined to make the climb.It's 1 and a half hours via one track, or just 1 hour taking the steeper.We elected to take it easy and go the longer route.In the heat, around 35% Celcius, and 100% humidity, we got a steam up,and my shirt was soaked in sweat! But the walk through the jungle was very enjoyable.Many lizards scuttled out of our path.Birds of great variety filled the canopy.And many lush plants were in full flower after the recent rainy season.
Part way up the track, we stopped to observe what we thought were two large birds circling in the upper canopy.As one came into land we could identify it as a bat, of a rather large species.Pteropus Samoensis Samoensis or Pe'a as it is called there, have had a hard time in Samoa, being a source of food in times of past famine, and now coping with the effects of loss of habitat.I believe these are now protected throughout Samoa.Bats are such interesting animals and deserve better respect from humans.
That photo is taken on my Canon SX10IS at extreme range of it's 20x optical lens.And now graces my computer screen.Click on each image and you'll bring up full size photos.Click your browsers 'back ' arrow to return.
Across the path there were many  prime trees that had been  fallen by savage winds earlier in the season, but these had been chainsawn open.Sawdust still covered the stumps.That must have been one massive storm to have done so much damage and fell such mighty canopy trees!
Huffing to the top, we made it,wrung out my shirt, gathered our find a family arriving by the other steeper track.With a 3 year old running along past us!
What a great vista from the top! Such a wonderful place to lie in repose forever.We had been told a little of how R L Stevenson was so reverred by the islanders.His rapport with the natives built upon his respect for their culture and customs.During that period of German imperialism,many native chiefs and leaders were imprisoned.R L Stevenson and his friends befriended those imprisoned, taking them food and working for their release.Such an enlightened attitude to the natives.On his death, the Samoans all gathered at Vailima, and hacked a path to the top of  Mt. Vaea .Then his coffin was passed along the line of mourners ,each wanting to help carry it to be buried overlooking Vailima,
There's not many Europeans as reverred and respected  by a native race,as is Robert Louis Stevenson, to pass into their cultural heritage.

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you 'grave for me: 
Here he lies where he long'd to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

Somehow it felt important for us to make this trek to his resting place.Kay is an avid reader, and books are a treasure for her.And for myself, this aspiring travel writer was now looking upon the grave of one of the great authors of history.Such a gulf between our respective abilities.....nobody's going to be trekking to my grave.

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