REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 9, 1997 — It is a sensual tropical paradise where the women rule and the men trade kula rings. The Trobriand Islands, or Islands of Love, off the coast of Papua New Guinea are home to a matrilineal society, which passes land and inheritance through the female side of the family. Spiritual traditions and fertility rites focus on cultivation of the phallic yam, and Trobriand Islanders are said to condone sex between unmarried teen-agers, extramarital sex with multiple partners, and even the conquest of men by married women. Mungo Park ™online adventure magazine, published by the Microsoft® Expedia
travel service (http://mungopark.com) , will conduct the first-ever online expedition to the Islands of Love with guest correspondent Dr. Ruth Westheimer Oct. 10-21.
The Trobriand Islands, a seldom-visited archipelago of 160 islands, are one of the planet’s last frontiers and remain relatively untouched by Western influence. Culturally distinct from the rest of Papua New Guinea due to their matrilineal society, the inhabitants possess a form of modesty that Westerners find curious. For example, it is taboo for an unmarried man and woman to share a meal together, although premarital sex is accepted behavior.
America’s most trusted educator on love, sex and the family will make her first trip to the Trobriand Islands in October as a correspondent for Mungo Park to discover why they are called the Islands of Love. Ruth Karola Westheimer, known to most people as Dr. Ruth, is famous for turning plain talk about sex into an industry. She has written numerous books, hosted a national radio call-in show, made scores of talk show appearances, and still maintains a private practice. At the same time, she takes an active role in academics and currently is a professor at New York University.
Now Dr. Ruth takes on the Internet as chief correspondent for Mungo Park in the Trobriand Islands, reporting her discoveries in daily written dispatches and audio commentary from the field.
“Trobriand society is fascinating. From what I’ve read, these people have a healthy appetite for sex,” Dr. Ruth said. “This is a culture that has not changed over the centuries, unlike Western culture. Sex education has been part of my life’s work, and I find the opportunity to visit and study the Trobriand people irresistible. This will also be my first experience working as an Internet reporter. I can’t wait to share my observations with the global audience for Mungo Park.”
Photographer Macduff Everton will join Dr. Ruth in this South Pacific tropical wonderland. Everton’s work has appeared in publications from National Geographic Traveler and Travel & Leisure to Newsweek and The New York Times. For his first assignment in electronic photojournalism, Everton will use digital cameras to capture the first Surround Videos from the Trobriand Islands. Rounding out the Mungo Park team is Dr. Kevin Twidle, one of the world’s foremost satellite communications specialists, and Trish Reynales, Mungo Park producer and correspondent.
Armchair adventurers can experience the Islands of Love along with the Mungo Park field team as it explores the many islands, volcanoes and cultural traditions of the Trobriand Islanders. Through the portal of their computer screen, virtual explorers will enter a domain inhabited by dolphins, crocodiles, exotic birds, flora and mystical native rituals, this month on Mungo Park.
Live Internet Chat With Dr. Ruth
Cyberexplorers can join Dr. Ruth for a live Internet chat on Oct. 21 at 3 p.m. Pacific time at (http://mungopark.com/) . Participants can ask questions while Dr. Ruth shares her thoughts and observations on Trobriand society, sexuality and culture.
“I never lose that sense of wonder when we explore new territory,” said Richard Bangs, Mungo Park editor in chief. “Who better to explore the Islands of Love than the indomitable Dr. Ruth Westheimer? If anyone can help us better understand this rich, libidinous culture, she can.”
These features will also appear on Mungo Park this month:
Wild Lit. Find out what happens when author Isabella Tree gets a flat tire in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Author of “Islands in the Clouds,” Tree tells of her experiences trekking with a New Guinean guide through the country’s rugged highlands, where tribal life focuses on pig and land ownership, and turf disputes are settled by bow and arrow.
Photo Gallery. See the remarkable work of Chris Rainier, who photographed New Guinea over the course of a decade.
Media Trip. Using vivid photography, audio and video, art historian Anne D’Alleva showcases ancestral masks from such regions as the Sepik, where villagers not only revere crocodiles but also hunt and eat them.
Mungo Park takes a closer look at “First Contact” and “The Sky Above, the Mud Below,” films about the first contact between New Guineans and the outside world.
Where’s Rockefeller? What really happened to America’s favored son, Michael Rockefeller, who disappeared from Irian Jaya in 1961? Take the Mungo Park pop quiz on the facts surrounding Rockefeller’s disappearance from the Indonesian western half of the island of New Guinea.
Postcards from Mungo Park. Virtual explorers can choose a Mungo Park picture postcard from a Live Expedition and send it via e-mail, along with a personal message, to anyone with an Internet address.
Mungo Park adds Papua New Guinea’s Trobriand Islands to its exciting list of adventures. Since September 1996, Mungo Park has taken online adventurers into space aboard the Atlantis space shuttle (STS-81) and the Mir space station; sea kayaking off the coast of Newfoundland with lifestyle guru Martha Stewart; diving among the coral reefs of Fiji with Jean-Michel Cousteau; to Cambodia and Vietnam with noted journalist Robert Scheer; on the trail of dinosaurs with Jack Horner, the world’s greatest paleontologist; and more. Past issues of Mungo Park, including live expeditions, are available at (http://mungopark.com/) .
Mungo Park is accessible on the World Wide Web and features an interactive expedition program, live Internet chats, a famous-author series, and regular columns from well-known journalists. Named for the famous 18th-century Scottish explorer who discovered the Niger River and mysteriously disappeared while navigating its waters, Mungo Park is about exploring the world – firsthand and online.
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