Sunday, September 25, 2011

From the Captain

An update - it's raining.  I spent a couple of days on the hook off a small island and generally poking around.  I think I got the fuel system working properly now and some fixes in mind.  I moved back to the harbour to catch a talk Tuesday night and tonite, Thursday there's a film on regarding the impact of intense US culture invasion on one island they set up works on.  Should be interesting.  I've lined up a couple of dives with a local dive charter operator for Saturday.

It was funny in that I couldn't get any info on where they dive and what they see from the front office people but I wandered down the dock at the end of the day with a tank that needed a new O ring and filling and spent an hour or so chatting with the owner / operator while giving him a hand fixing and outboard.  So, Saturday's dive is set up, the tank is fixed and filled and a lot of info exchanged.

The talk on Tuesday by the Tongan man basically said people were better off 30 years ago before "development" took a major hold.  Part of that stems from the fact that there was some local industry and export agriculture that is largely been killed by over production in the developed world. So 30 years ago, Tonga paid it's way with a positive trade balance.  Today, "remittances" keep it afloat - Tongans that have moved away but send money to family here.

This paired up with the Dutch chap who operates the dive business.  Basically, it runs 3 to 4 months which is just enough to pay the bills but doesn't get ahead so he work "at home (Europe)" for part of the year.  He's been doing this for nearly 20 years and his comment is basically that every year he comes back and things are more run down.  Businesses change hands as "palangi" (foreigners) come to make their fortune and leave discouraged and broke.

It's a tough place to work, despite being very beautiful.  The local people are caught in a cycle of change they are trying to manage, while the industry and life styles change. Similarly to Nuie where the population has gone from 20 or 30 000 to the current 1700 and dropping.  Beautiful place, but doesn't fit the western capitalistic model that is sweeping the planet.  Until we take into account values in the eoconmic model that aren't and can't be evaluated in dollars we are doomed both at a personal and national level.  Indeed, the international level.

To some exent, we, the family have done that.  For example you're in Vernon because it has values (not big city, good access to lakes and hills etc, and ski facilities) that balance for you the fact that you could make more $ in Calgary or Vancouver.  Granted your living costs would be higher.  So, you're taking into account a 'happiness index' as well as the cash values - which is good.  Mom and I did the same to live in Nanaimo, and here I am "wasting" my most lucrative working years bobbing around in a boat!