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BC’s Tales of the Pacific | Nice place to visit, but…

WHENEVER I travel people ask me, “Do you think you could live there?”

The fact that it gets asked so much got me thinking about the pros and cons of living in various places.  I have never been anywhere that had absolutely nothing going for it, but I have been many places where the negatives outweighed the positive.;

In the spirit of discussion I present a list of places around the Pacific I think are nice to visit but I would not want to live there.  Feel free to add to the list or disagree with my choices in the comments section.

Japan — One of my favorite countries in the world, Japan has much to recommend it.  It is modern and comfortable, with a varied climate, great cuisine and wonderful people.  I visit Japan as often as I can to see friends and enjoy the history and culture.  But I find it a little too fast paced.  It is one of the most densely populated countries in the world and for society to function smoothly all those people must obey lots of rules.  Individuality surrenders to the good of many too often for my comfort, though I understand why it has to be that way.  All in all, I could live there if I had to, but I hope it never comes to that.

Solomon Islands — So named because someone thought they were the location of King Solomon’s treasure mines.  The pace of life suits me in the Solomons.  But the negatives present a mountain I just cannot climb.  First off, it is so blazingly hot there, you never feel like doing anything.  Just thirty minutes of hard work wipes you out for the rest of the day.  This helps explain my second negative for the Solomons: the severe lack of modern comforts.  There is very little development in the islands, no cities, no reliable drinking water or air conditioning, forget mopeds or cars, even electric lighting is a luxury few can afford.  There is great scuba diving to be enjoyed in the Solomons, but that is not enough to persuade me to live there.  I’ll stick to the occasional visit.

Fiji — This beautiful island oasis could easily be one of the highlights of the Pacific.  But their problems are political.  Ever since the military coup that overthrew the civilian government in the name of protecting the people (they always say that), Fiji has been an inhospitable place.  In 2009 Commodore Frank Bainimarama took control of the country and has presided over a military dictatorship complete with curfews and censorship of the press.  The Pacific Islands Forum denied them participation in decision-making, although they stopped short of excommunicating them.  Elections were held in 2014 which gave Bainimarama a façade of legitimacy but most of us will not be traveling to Fiji, in spite of a great climate, wonderful people and world-class diving, until Bainimarama leaves the government.

Easter Island — It is a dream destination for tourists and historians, and people are starting to move to the island to take up residency.  But conditions are still a little too primitive, the location too remote for my tastes.  I would happily spend a few years on Easter Island to do research, but I don’t fancy living there for an extended period.

Peru —  Although the mountains are lush and inviting, the coastal plain is one of the driest places on Earth.  The Nazca Lines are something everyone must see before they die, but there is a reason very few people live in lowland Peru.  Visit, yes, live there, no.

Kamchatka Peninsula — Often called the Alaska of Russia, this wilderness paradise has everything I like.  The climate is moderate, though a bit chilly for some, with plenty of wildlife and few people.  I could easily live in Kamchatka if it were not for the misfortune of being part of Russia.  Vladimir Putin is traveling a political road down which I cannot follow.  His suppression of religious freedom, coupled with his heavy-handed approach to foreign policy, reminds us more and more of the Soviet era.  A former KGB agent, Putin may be remembered as the most repressive Russian leader since Stalin.  If freedom returns to Russia I could be persuaded to settle in Kamchatka.  Until that time, it remains a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

BC Cook, PhD lived on Saipan and has taught history for 20 years. He travels the Pacific but currently resides on the mainland U.S.