Culture is a human construct, while nature is, of course, a natural one. In the tiny island of Bora Bora, which pales in comparison to most other ideal vacation island nations, nature has, in essence, overruled the culture into submission. Where other islands, and cities in general tend to be teeming with tourists and locals alike, this island feels like a ghost town. Where mankind has clearly left his implacable footstep in other parts of the world, Bora Bora, upon first glance, seems to be as untouched as the moon.
The few who do call this island home are generally in poverty and live a life divorced from the day to day reality we face in our world. Nobody on Bora Bora cares about North Korea developing their nuclear arsenal, or the French elections, or Russian spies, or American involvement, or ISIS attacks. This is an island that many scientists agree is a perfect candidate for global warming to wreak havoc on. Do the natives care? Do they even know what climate change is? I’d be honestly surprised if they even knew who Donald Trump is.
Not a lot of things will make you smile like happy kids in the white sand beaches of Bora Bora
What little they do know about the rest of the world beyond their isolated microcosm comes from what tourists show them, which is both beautiful and tragic simultaneously. Beautiful because the people from around the world who vacation in this particular spot are wealthy, and are probably nice to the island people, who have staked out most of their economy on catering to these people coming and going. It’s also tragic because they form an opinion based on so little. If one French person is rude with them, they’ll likely come to associate all of France with that attitude, which is sad because I know these small interactions they have with us are what they may come to associate as indicative of the bigger picture around the globe.
Some people we found just hanging out at the beach on a weekday! Why work when you can beach?
They live in an extremely small world. The world looks impoverished. The people are probably uneducated by Western standards. These kids would never pass the SAT’s, but they probably know a lot more about survival than we do. And, perhaps most importantly, they waste a whole lot less time worrying about ultimately trivial issues outside of their control. Their world starts and ends where the sun rises and sets, and in a strange way, I’m envious of that ignorance. Ignorance is bliss after all.
The locals and the island are fit for each other, both humble, both beautiful
It is altogether too difficult for me to understand why anyone would ever choose to stay in this little world. A world where everyone knows each other, where innovation is small, where scarcity rules, and where the upside are the beautiful beaches and untouched landscapes. Here in our comfortable Western bubble, we traded the grandness of an environment unplagued by mankind’s destruction for the coziness of electricity, grocery stores, cars, roads, public schools, hospitals, pizza delivery, and the list goes on and on and on. And I would venture to say that we made the right choice. I know some politically correct people would want you to see the evils of humanity and see how much more beautiful your scenery could be if we didn’t run in and build a McDonalds on every corner.
Watch the whole video, I promise it’s worth it
I understand the argument, and I think they’re right: our scenery would be much more beautiful without our input. But would our lives be more beautiful? Isn’t abundance better than poverty? In America, poor people still own homes, and drive cars. They go to school, and get treated by the best physicians on Earth. They rarely go hungry, and they have a cornucopia of support from charities, the government and the community at large. Now I’m not saying that poor people somehow don’t have problems, or that America doesn’t have problems. What I’m saying is that our problems are superior to theirs, as is our lifestyle. They face problems in the near future that they aren’t even aware of with climate change and the like. At least we try to find and solve our problems over here.
All in all, the people are beautiful, and the place is beautiful, but it makes me sad that anyone should live in the conditions they live in. Perhaps they willfully accept that reality, and I’ll just never understand because our cultures are so diametrically opposed. But maybe, just maybe, I have a point.
-The Wandering Toucan