Roger Lextrait: Eight years alone on South Pacific island

The Private Islands blog has a story about Roger Lextrait, who lived practically alone on a small island in the South Pacific atoll of Palmyra for eight years.

200708311002Each day he woke promptly at 5AM, to the calling of a hundred thousand birds. Nowhere else on the planet do these creatures gather in such numbers. After fixing himself a Palmyra Cocktail (1 part Rum, 1 part Red Wine, 1 part Tang), he called up his radio contacts in Tahiti and Honolulu. A shower on the beach in his makeshift bathing system and he was ready for the day. The bath and latrine systems Roger built are still used today by the current research teams that visit the atoll for brief expeditions.

Roger had a variety of things to keep him busy. Not least of which were his 3 dogs TouTou, Blackie, and Padou. He trained them to hunt sharks, helping to keep the predators population under control. Always near were his 2 cats Tiger and DouDouche, and the 2 birds he raised from hatchlings, lovingly named Felix and Oscar.

Experience made him an excellent fisherman, using only a diving knife, fishing net, and spear gun. This was dangerous work as the reef contained a number of less than friendly creatures. Roger had his share of run-ins with everything from sharks to stingrays, but never suffered any serious injuries.

Singing, playing his guitar, and drumming on an old wheel barrel helped him pass the time and keep the loneliness at bay. Despite his best efforts, Roger still describes experiencing intense feelings of depression and despair. "It (Palmyra) is so secluded, so isolate," he says.