My name is Rob and I will be sharing with you one of the greatest stories ever told in the history of my country, The Netherlands.
It all starts on a sunny summer day in August. I had just arrived back from Budapest, Hungary where I enjoyed the Sziget festival. When catching up on my e-mail, I noticed one message that captivated me more than any other before. It was sent to me by Sarah, an old friend of mine. She works with a group of entrepreneurs and scientists in a Dutch consortium dealing with national security. As we all know, there is great concern over climate change and the possibility of rising sea levels. A large part of the Netherlands is already below sea-level and while we are a developed nation, our dikes too might not protect us indefinitely. Her team had been searching for a new place for the Dutch to live and had apparently found one and were about to land there with an expedition fleet.
At first I was skeptical. Very skeptical. I trust Sarah, but we have mapped our planet to a great extent, there is no New World left to discover. The e-mail had all the trademarks of spam, or a well-crafted forgery. Her claims were simply beyond belief. Apparently, using the most sophisticated ten-year old software they could get their hands on, Sarah and her team had discovered one of the most special and perfect islands ever seen by mankind. It was safe from global warming. It was completely deserted and ripe for development. It was economically feasible to settle from our mainland by sea and air connections. It had mountains for skiing, beaches for swimming. Bays and forests. It was too good to be true. While I wondered if Sarah was pulling a prank on me I noticed an image attachment. I opened it expecting one of those images of a crazy looking kitten and a caption calling me gullable in an unflattering way. Not quite.
The image you see here is the exact image she sent me. An actual deserted island, matching all the properties they described. I was in shock. Could it be true? An undiscovered island for my grandchildren to maybe one day settle? I decided I should sleep on this to get a clear mind and would get back to her the following morning. I read a few more e-mails and noticed a second one from Sarah, sent hours after the first. Surely I was going to be called a sucker after all. And then I read the most mind-blowing words I had seen in a long while.
I miss you. It's been... how do I say this. The expedition I told you about is going a little different than planned and has us all confused. My co-worker Paul killed himself. His wife never responded to his e-mails and he could not take it anymore. We are stuck here and haven't received supplies or word from HQ in... oh God. This morning the delivery failures started coming in. File system full. All dated... it's August 8 there, isn't it? It's been... I can't keep this a secret anymore. It's been nearly a month now. I don't understand. Please write back soon.
And another, from a few days later.
how was your vacation? I thought you ignored me and then realised! According to our calculations you must be back now. Please write. I have some great news. We managed. It was hard at first, but... it's been almost two years and we are thriving. I'm a mother. Of fifteen! This island is so fertile... we... we built a community. A whole city, Rob! And we discovered... we had a delivery mid-air, we thought the baby died, no heartbeat. But... when we landed it was alive. In the plane it was just... not on our time. Apparently the effect doesn't kick in until you land. Please call HQ. I have a surprise for you. They are arranging a plane. Our city... would you like to see it?
Well, that was a month ago. Here anyway. Believe me or not, it's all true. I have been there. Many times. I can tell this story now because I have officially been appointed as ambassador for the island to what they starting calling the Old World. All I have to do is to tell their remarkable story. Which started in Sarah's little city. So now it's up to me to ask...
Would you like to see it?