This aerial photo of the venerable ship “Dory” tells a story of how economic trade has enabled remote places like Tuamoto atolls to thrive (shown here in Avatoru pass of Rangiroa).
It is quite difficult to grow crops in the sandy terrain of the Tuamotos, just a few feet above sea level, with high salinity contaminating the soil during storms and king tides. The historical solution has been “do with less, and trade what you have plenty of”. In the case of Tuamotos, they have abundant fish, and abundant copra. The latter is dried coconut meat — processed into many well known body products.
Just like the schooners of the past, the cargo ships like Dory visit the atolls on a regular schedule to bring imported produce and ship exported copra. All the ships also accept a limited number of passengers. It is possible to travel somewhat affordably between atolls if you have time and are willing to “rough it”.
Like all the locals, we are tuned in to the arrival of the cargo ship, because that means the general store will be stocked the next day. The exhorbitantly priced fresh produce runs out after just two or three days. So, if you want something other than onions and potatoes, keep a sharp lookout for when cargo ships arrive in the Tuamotos…!