Needles, Haystacks and Islands

Toau, Tuamotu, French Polynesia

When we look at those words up there and realize that we could be putting those letters together at random for all the good it does describing our location to you.  We can tell you exactly where we are and at the same time tell you nothing at all.  We’re working on getting a map up.  Here, we’ll give you a little orientation.  How about a satellite photograph of the atoll:

That help?  Still no, huh?  Let’s zoom out a bit:

Just in case you didn’t know, the blue stuff is water.  We would like to point out that if you put the entire landmass of our planet into this one ocean, there would be STILL be room for a second Africa, give or take.   Like we said, the scale of things out here is massive.  “Needle in a haystack”?  From now on we’ll be saying “it’s like trying to find an island in the Pacific.”  People live on them.  Granted, not a lot of people, but still.

And yet, here we are.  It’s amazing that these places are REAL.  There are places on the map that almost no one has ever heard of and these places are actually a lot closer than most of us realize… yet drastically separated by water, language, culture and a lack of regular air transport (you saw the major / only airport of the area).  Coming from the States, it’s actually easier, cheaper and WAY faster to get to Sydney, which is still several thousand miles from us, than to get to this little atoll.  The Pacific islands are weird that way.

The fact that you are way off in the middle of nowhere is always right there, right in your face.  You get used to over time and you stop thinking about it.  It’s amusing to think back on how we called Nuku Hiva “the big city” but it is the largest settlement we’ve encountered since leaving Mexico a few months ago.  It wouldn’t even count as a village in the San Francisco Bay.

Greg has long been a proponent of the philosophy that humans can normalize just about anything, along as they are exposed to it enough.  Isolation is the status quo out here, after all.  Polynesians don’t wander around in a state of shock at their removal from the regular world; to them, this is the regular world.  Over time, it becomes regular to us as well and we stop thinking about the fact that there are places in the world where it takes more than 20 minutes to walk from one coast to another.  Then something little makes you think of it, like zooming out on the navigation computer while planning a route.  Then it all comes rushing back, “Holy heck we’re over 1000 miles from the nearest continent!”  It actually scares you a little bit as you think to yourself “how the heck did we get here on a sailboat!?”

But you’ll have a hard time beating the views.

Or the sea life.

Thanks to the Fakarava hotel band for the music.

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