Ron is in charge of so many things on our boat. One of his most important jobs, however, is to provide us with nightly entertainment in the way of downloaded television shows, movies, etc. Last week, in light of the fact that we were immersed in all things south Pacific, he got a 6 part series from the BBC, entitled South Pacific (not very imaginative, but it does get the point across). Last night, we started in on Part 1 to prepare us for the next leg of our sailing journey.
I won't bore you with descriptions of azure seas, crystalline waters, dramatic music and photo angles, (okay, just had to throw that in there) but there were some interesting lessons to be learned. One island, described as being very remote (duh) was highlighted due to their many ways of fishing. Jigging while lying prone on the waters' surface, enabled these islanders to still obtain the daily meal when the seas were too rough to take their boats out. Apparently, they have some of the greatest numbers of ways to fish than many of their neighbors. I'd say that they were keeping up with Darwin's iguanas, in discovering many methods of adaptability and evolution.
A segment detailing the beginnings of the "bungee jump" on Pentacost Island in Vanuatu, showed that the men there have been throwing themselves off high platforms for ages. Although the Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club claims to have been the first to participate in this "sport" in 1979, in reality these islanders have been doing so for hundreds of years, but they call it Bislama nanggol (or the more easily pronounced "land diving"). Although the Kiwis in New Zealand claim to have been the first to do it commercially, in reality they are just pussies, using giant rubber bands rather than the more traditional vines, the way the real men of Pentacost do it.
On our list of things to buy prior to our Pacific crossing is a machete. I know, you would imagine that we would already have one on board, but as the boat tends to go where there aren't jungles and vines needing to be whacked through, we've bypassed this boat tool. We either buy one, or we take aboard a Robber, or Coconut, Crab to help us with shucking coconuts. They are so big that should we take on this extra crew member, I'll need to do something about clearing out the vberth. A meter-wide leg span, and strength to drill through coconuts, means these guys are not messing around. Perhaps I could even teach it to clean the barnacles off the bottom of the dinghy.
One item of note was the mentality of the community of Atuna Island, when hunting for birds to supplement their mostly marine meals. They know that they could hunt these birds to extinction, but they net them in numbers which ensure their sustainability. Their "at oneness" with their environment showed a rhythm with nature which is commendable.
Not so with those now-extinct Rapa Nui, of Easter Island. This at one time lush and diverse island, was completely denuded of massive palm trees due to tribal competitions in one-up-manship. The building of the massive Moai heads, led to their ultimate destruction of the very habitat they needed for survival.
While the interesting facts we learned last night were presented in such spectacular photographic fashion by the BBC, most importantly the lessons learned were those of survival. While the peoples of the south Pacific islands have been around for 2-3000 years, I'd suggest that perhaps they go on a road trip to educate the rest of the world. Sustainability, living in harmony with nature, value of community versus competition, these are age old lessons that apparently still haven't been learned in the world at large. What is concerning is that the populations of these islands are newer than those in North and South America, and in Europe and the Middle East - is the evolution that is still to come there going to follow the rest of the world's example?