Kamoka & Covid-19
What a time!
Kamoka pearl farm is located on Ahe Atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago of French Polynesia. As of late March 2020, all flights in and out of French Polynesia plus all inter-island flights within the country, were halted by the government in order to stop the spread of the virus. Supply ship service has also been cut back significantly meaning that everyone in Ahe is almost literally stranded on a desert island.
French Polynesia lost around one quarter of its population to the Spanish Flu in the early 1900s and many more to imported European diseases in the centuries before that, so the people know from experience to take health threats seriously.
For the most part however, we're already isolated on the atoll so the new measures don't change a lot for us. The Paumotu people (the name for the people who are from the Tuamotu Atolls) are extremely resourceful and have survived much harder times than this. That said, the 150 or so people in the village have been told to not leave their homes and aren't supposed to go fishing. Kamoka is about a 20 minute boat ride away from the village and our even more remote location means that we are not under the same restrictions. So what did we do? Josh went fishing with some buddies! Three weeks in a row as of April 7th, and they distributed the fish to families in need of food. We know some of you don't like photos of dead fish but please understand that fish are the staple where we live (we have extremely poor soil and little grows besides coconut trees) and this gift to the village was the difference between food and hunger for many people.
Other than that we've been on our regular farm schedule, taking care of the oysters, grafting and harvesting pearls. Patrick, Josh's dad is busy planting coconut trees along the ocean side of our land and also harvested several liters of honey from our bee hives.
We make our jewelry and ship it out to our customers from our Portland, Oregon studio. Celeste (co-boss of Kamoka and Josh's wife) and Tevai (Josh and Celeste's son) have been in isolation and working and shipping from their home since March 15th. It's been a little difficult to get jewelry making supplies with so many businesses under lockdown and shipping slowdowns, but overall we feel blessed to be still working. We've spent our extra free time cleaning and making sure everything gets sent out to our customers germ-free. So far our USPS shipping has been as fast as ever.
Josh and Celeste of course miss each other terribly but we all know that Josh would "dry out" if he was stuck in Oregon without an ocean to get into on a regular basis (the Oregon government has asked that people stay at home). Celeste and Tevai run the retail operation under normal circumstances anyway so we've got this side as covered as ever but of course we're a little jealous we don't get to be stuck in the tropics too! In the meantime we're making lots of beautiful new jewelry pieces so please keep checking in to see what we've made. Small family businesses like ours need your support more than ever right now.
Please stay happy and safe out there everyone!