Saturday, August 3, 2013
This guy was living the self sufficient lifestyle before people even used the phrase.
Born in 1902, he did a stint in the New Zealand navy, then worked in Tahiti to build up some money. After he had a nest egg, he got himself delivered to Suwarrow atoll in 1952 and lived on one of the islands there. He found an old shack that had been used by the coast watchers in WW2, fixed it up, and settled in. He stayed there, with his two cats for company for a couple of years. Then he hurt his back and had to leave in 1954. He didn't get back until 1960. After a three year stint in which time he was visited by the helicopter from a passing American warship, he went back to Roratonga island in 1964. Some pearl fishermen had started using the atoll and they were loud and obnoxious. He couldn't handle it so he left.
He went back in 1967 for the last time. Neale lived peacefully on the island until 1977. Feeling ill, he was picked up and taken back to Rarotonga. It turned out he had stomach cancer and he died eight months later.
Somebody built a luxury hotel on the island , which seems to be what happens to all the beautiful, quiet places on the planet. Maybe he died at the right time, so he never had to see that.
This is a fascinating book. No one who wants to live in an isolated area and live as much on their own as they can should forego reading it. I learned a good deal from the book, and his memoirs were fascinating in their own right. Tom Neale was something of an eccentric, but people who go off and live away from other human beings have to be a little that way to make a go of it.