Saturday, September 3, 2011
A Least-Developed Country.
I know California is light-years distant when I meet Tebau, the mayor of —. He’s wearing only a smile and a dark purple sarong. We’re standing on a muddy dirt road in the spartan village of —, and in my pocket I’m jingling a clutch of Australian coins, the currency used here. It was useful back on Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati’s 33 coral atolls. But in the periphery, cash is irrelevant. “Here on —, we can survive without money,” Tebau says with a wink and a nod. “We can live off the sea and land — fish and coconut palm. Everything else is just luxury.” This is when I recall that Kiribati (pronounced Kiri-bahs) is on the United Nations’ “Least Developed Countries” list. Which makes it simple. Which makes it special. Which makes it the perfect place to dismiss the modern world.