Friday, October 9, 2009

The World Without Us.

It’s been a time here at Cape Trib. I’m not even sure how to explain the events of the past few days. Hans, the man who takes care of the bats and runs the educational centre didn’t show up for work on Tuesday morning. Hugh, the director, went out to his cabin to find him and found that he had died in his sleep. This was a person that I had lived with for only four days. His cabin was the next one past mine. This everchanging population dynamics of this place make this a very different sort of situation.

He was of Dutch decent, but was a permanent local to the Cape Tribulation area (one of about 50). He had been the Park Ranger for the region and knew absolutely everyone and everything that went on in this town. He also knew an awful lot about the local environment and was the one to go to if you had any questions about anything local; related to the social, economic, or environmental conditions.

Unfortunately, Hans had had a rough time over the past few years. His girlfriend had died, he had undergone triple bypass surgery, and he was plagued by skin cancer. It was all a lot for him to handle, so he left town for several months. He returned and decided to leave his house and live here at the research station and educational centre. He was always an avid volunteer at the Bat House and a champion of conservation and restoration, which the other people here are not always interested in because they just want to make money from tourism and the environment tends to be ignored.

Over the past few months he had finally started to seem like his old self. Hugh said he was very content here. He had even purchased all of the material to build his own house on the property. On Saturday, in fact, he had raised the first wall and was so proud to show us his two windows. On Monday, he had went into Port Douglas to see his doctor and have two spots removed from his leg, but he joined us for homemade pizza and cheerfully went off to bed.

Hans had a lot of family in the area. Even his mother is still here and he was 73, so she has to be even older than that. They have all been stopping by and sending notes. His nephews have been by to clean out his cabin. Hans really loved Reader’s Digest and had purchased everything they had published in recent years. The boys found four unopened mail packages from the past couple weeks. The library has literally doubled with cookbooks and nature books.

Next Wednesday, the community will have a wake and a celebration of Hans’ life on the Dujubi Boardwalk. It is a beautiful walk all down along the coast of the beach and it was one of the projects Hans built as an employee of the National Parks. I’ll help with the food and the cooking and I am glad that I can be here to help so that his family can spend the time remembering Hans and all of the good things he did for this region.

No comments:

Post a Comment