Uligamu is an outpost in the northwest Indian Ocean; it's the final stop
most people make before they enter the Gulf of Aden or sail directly up the
Red Sea. Like most outposts, they don't spend a lot of money on fancy
infrastructure when something more basic suffices.
Take channel markers for instance. The narrow channel into Uligamu
harbor would be difficult to locate without some type of marker to identify
the entrance. It doesn't take much, and anything is better than
The mariners of Uligamu construct their channel marker from a tree and
metal pipe. They embed the pipe into the reef on the edge of the
channel, and they place a small tree inside the pipe.
City slickers may scoff at this unsophisticated channel marker, after all,
it doesn't have lights or solar panels. But is a ten-thousand dollar
lighted buoy with all the bells and whistles any better than an Uligamu
tree? I think not.
Wherever you travel in the developing world, you discover thousands of
navigational lights that don't work, and most of them have been out of
commission for years. They are too expensive to maintain. The
local mariners don't need them and visiting mariners have GPS, so why spend
millions of dollars installing and maintaining navigational structures that
few people use.
The top picture shows that the Uligamu navigational tree is visible from a
long distance off. Once you see the tree, you can locate the turquoise
channel passing to its right.
Instead of buying a million dollar buoy tender to maintain an expensive channel
marker, they simply hire a tree tender to change the tree as needed.
If the leaves all fall off or if the trunk breaks in a storm,
the tree tender can stand in three feet of water and put
a new tree inside the pipe.
David has been trying to figure out what type of work he wants to do when he
finishes the voyage on Exit Only. Although he's a musician, it's not
clear yet whether his music will provide enough income to support him when
he's married and living on his own. He's been thinking about applying
for work as an Uligamu Tree Tender to supplement the income he earns as a musician. The picture shows that he's comfortable in the
water and well-suited for this type of work.
I am writing a letter to the Supreme Ruler of Uligamu to see if they might
consider David as the Chief Uligamu Tree Tender with full benefits. It's
always good to know you have a cushion to fall back on just in case
your musical career doesn't pan out.