This is how the world will look when the apocalypse has come and we are reborn.
There will be technology, technology that each generation knows less how to use and how to maintain. The technology will be novel, unusual and limited. Fixing it will be done ad-hock and piecemeal until each piece succumbs to the environment and because parts for other technology. Creating new technology will not be an option.
There will be roads, or there will be tracks that once were roads but have overgrown with grass and eventually trees. In other places, the roads will be broken by floods, earthquakes or hurricanes. The veins and arteries that carried vehicles will now support goats and cattle.
The land will be farmed. It will not have sweeping fields of corn but rather small family plots with a variety of crops. Each fruit consumed will be carefully cleaned of seeds to be planted again. Gardens will be a source of wealth, to be guarded against other people encroaching or stealing precious food supplies.
Food will be prepared on open fires. The inefficiency will create a day’s worth of work for a single person. The fire will burn smoky in poorly ventilated kitchens, making the cook’s eyes water and burn and causing the children to cough through the night. The recipes passed through the generations will be survival, not just folk lore.
The word family will expand to include cousins, aunts, uncles, second-cousins and any working pair of hands in the community. Everyone will rely on everyone. One person will work in the kitchen, tending the fire and cooking while five more work in the fields to bring in food. Still others will gather firewood for the communal hearth or attempt to win sustenance from the wild areas, be it fish, game or seasonal fruits. Without community the individuals rest on the verge of extinction.
Every drop of rainwater will be precious. Clean drinking water will be hoarded in bottles that before would have filled a landfill. Roofs will be made with gutters that lead to barrels, rivers will be places for washing and bathing and places for land rights and land fights. Rainfalls will be like showers and cause for soaping screaming children clean from mud.
The government will be a distant thing, something one hears stories of but never sees actions from. Each family will combine with other families to form small, self-governed districts. The governments will be simple, straight-forward, whether democratic or based on lineage. The justice system will be fair or run the risk of collapsing. There will be no wider sense of belonging to a place.
This is how the world will end.
This is Vanuatu.
I am struck by how the portrayals of a post-apocalyptic US or developed world so closely match the realities of the developing world. Here, our technology seems to cross a magically self-destruct line when it comes to the island. No technology we brought with us is working right anymore and we can’t get parts to fix any of it. The road we follow to and from Melsisi used to be a good truck road and in some places is now barely passable. On other islands and in places on this one, the road has become completely impassable. The people here are subsistence farmers with a small cash cropping economy based on selling kava to Vila. Most of their time goes into growing food to eat while the kava matures enough for production. We cook on fire and cooking a single meal can take hours. There is no way to go to the garden and cook in a single day, which makes living as an individual almost impossible. There is a huge and necessary reliance on immediate community but almost no sense of a wider, national, or even island wide identity. There is in fact, a huge mistrusting of people from other places or other islands.
If pop culture has accurately portrayed the end of the world, then I am will equipped.