Reflections from Apataki

From just 5 miles away, we could see only a string of coconut trees above the horizon, stretching across the open ocean.  That was it. 

“Wow, these atolls are so fragile” is the first thought that comes to mind, seeing such tiny specks of low-lying land in the middle of the sea.

House on the lagoon edge in Apataki

Climate scientists have warned us that low-lying atolls like Apataki (and the entire Tuamotos archipelago ) are at risk. This is due to the slow infiltration of sea water rise into the fresh water aquifer, making it very hard to grow crops (as reported in Kiribati). Or, by storm surge that destroys the land, either due to higher than normal tides (as seen in the East Coast of US) or by tropical cyclones (such as the terrible devastation this year in the Caribbean).

Johnny, Michael, and Alex admire the crystalline water next to Apataki’s village

Although cyclones are relatively rare in Tuamotos, they can still occur, especially during El Niño events. As we visit these atolls, we are impressed by how vulnerable they are. Therefore it comes as a shock to get news of catastrophic weather events occurring back home in California in the form of huge drought-driven wildfires. One of the epicenters of the wildfire battle is in Ventura, which we call the “birthplace” of Aldebaran. Read our last post about our connection to Ventura.

We met SV Kaimana of Scott and Melissa in Apataki. They are also originally from San Diego, although they now live in Oahu (when they’re not sailing their catamaran!)

We are saddened and humbled by the losses of many friends and community members back home. In day-to-day life in California, characterized by idyllic weather and a happy-go-lucky culture, it is easy to forget that the weather can turn so destructive. 

As we visit atolls like Apataki, that live with the constant reality of disaster, we see there are some key lessons to dealing with catastrophic weather… 1. preparing for the bad scenarios  2. preparing for the very worst scenario 3. enjoying the present moment fully, and not being attached to material possessions.

We hope to learn from the wisdom of these atolls, so we may be prepared back home and resilient in the future…

A local legend.

The local mode of transport.