Fergusson Island and Dobu Island

Fergusson Island is known for its hot springs and geysers at DeiDei, close to the settlement at Salamo. We went ashore in the zodiacs, and had an hours hike to get to Salamo. Here we picked up local guides - one for every 5 passengers. One for the whole group would have been sufficient, but it does spread some money into the community. Another half hour saw us at the geothermal area. It was very impressive, a sort of mixture of Rotarua, Pamukale and Southern Bolivia. The geysers were numerous, but not high. Height being limited to a few few, but the whole area had the appropriate aura of Dante's inferno

Chris got trapped by one of the local teenagers on the return walk, and had to see the girls parents. The parents in turn did not seem too impressed to see Chris, but they had been warned that we were not carrying money to buy anything

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On to Dobu Island in the afternoon. It is amazing how studied the Dobu people have been by anthropologists, with no consensus being reached among them.

The people of Dobu were the subject of a seminal anthropological study by Reo Fortune. He described the Dobuan character as "paranoid", obsessed with black magic, and as having extremely unusual attitudes toward sex and violence. Fortune's account was reiterated by Ruth Benedict in her popular work Patterns of Culture. However, many later anthropologists expressed skepticism. Fortune's analysis was significantly challenged by Susanne Kuehling in her 2005 title Dobu: Ethics of Exchange on a Massim Island, Papua New Guinea. In particular, Kuehling's interest lies at the intersection of ethics and personal conduct.

An anthropology page on the web says "was grateful to hear from Professor Kuehling after my previous comment. She is now at the University of Regina, and writes:" Thank you for mentioning my book on Dobu! You’re right, it has not really changed the world as yet, but the Dobu islanders are very happy and proud of being represented in it. They had no idea that they were described as so horrible yet they felt relieved that I corrected this image. No damage done to their egos, as they learned about Benedict’s version long after my book was out and mentioned on the Dobu page of Wikipedia. Strange world. "Strange world indeed. And as Kuehling writes, the real problems in Dobu are not the Benedict-Fortune misrepresentations–the real problems are persistent poverty, inequality, and Dobu’s peripheral position in the global economy. As should have been obvious from Benedict, the fact that they had been incorporated into a colonial system that recruited Dobuans as indentured servants–well maybe, just maybe, their position in the world system might have something to do with their attitudes and representation toward an outsider anthropologist.

Shell currency is still used among the islands (see second photo below). Shell money was once commonly used in many parts of the world, and usually consisted either of whole sea shells or pieces of them, which were worked into beads. The use of shells in trade began as direct commodity exchange, the shells having value as body ornamentation. Holes were bored through the shells, which were then valued by the length of a threaded set on a string, as measured using the finger joints. Two shells are used by these Pacific islanders, one a cowry found on the New Guinea coast, and the other the common pearl shell.

Also of note everywhere in these islands is the "blonde gene", with ginger or blonde hair being very noticable throughout communities. The inhabitants of the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea - are very dark-skinned - but have puzzled scientists for decades with their blond hair. Now a genetic study has found that the islanders have a 'homegrown' gene that gives them blond hair - and it's different from the one in Europeans. ‘Its frequency is between 5 and 10 percent across the Solomon Islands, which is about the same as where I'm from,’ said study author Eimear Kenny, PhD, who was born in Ireland. Kenny's DNA analysis showed conclusively that the blone gene in the South Seas was a different one to the European blonde gene

There is a nice write up on Dobu here.

The dances and sing-sing were followed by a very wet zodiac ride back to the ship.

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On to Tufi

South Seas Holiday