The Earth is our home, the place that nourishes us and shelters us from the cradle to the grave, so we kind of expect it to be a uniform habitable place for all of us. But this is patently not the case. Outside of the cozy little modern nests that have been fashioned for us oh so carefully – barring the odd natural disaster – we are easily sheltered from harm and the many dangers that still pose a threat to us, out in the big lonely and wide world.
Because of the natural security of many of us in the western world, we forget our vulnerability in the wilderness; we are only an apex predator if we have the upper hand and the ability to outsmart another apex predator. Yet there are still those in the developing world who live on the teetering edge of nature’s chaos every day. There are even individuals in the west that have shunned the frenetic pace and comforts contained therein amid the rat race and returned to the call of the wild.
Furthermore, there are those who do continue their existence to endure in the throes of the modern world and choose to do so in the most bizarre and non-conforming ways, whether it be through mind boggling architecture, making the most of limited space or living in a weird location. There is no limit to how adaptable a human can be at times, even when this said adaptability is an almighty head scratcher among their peers and the rest of the world. Here is a list gathered together of a bunch of peculiar dwellings and harsh habitats humanity has taken itself up in.
10. Island House on St. Lawrence River
Nestled between the border of the USA and Canada, two of the largest countries on Earth, is a house built on a plot so small that there is just enough room to contain the house. Filling an island on the St. Lawrence River dividing the State of New York and the Canadian Province of Ontario, is a house that may as well be boating leisurely along the river.
Aptly dubbed “Just Room Enough,” the island was purchased by the Sizeland Family in the 1950s in order to escape the frenetic rat race of modern day life. Ironically however, the family’s yearning for solitude took a bitter twist and the house is now a tourist destination. There is something awe inspiring about a house that could lead to one stumbling into the river by accidentally strolling too far would no doubt be a subject of wonder by the general public.
9. The Cold Pole
For most human beings, we are used to temperate climates and living in seasonal and varied weather, though some of us have edged to the boundary of normality, pushing the limit of survival… and Vitamin D!
The city of Verkhoyansk is situated over 3,000 miles away from the Russian capital Moscow, and deep within the Taiga Forest, which is the world’s largest. The Siberian city also claims to be the “coldest city in the world,” therefore referred to as “The Cold Pole.” There is little chance for any warming up of the municipality when between the months of September and March Verkhoyansk experiences less than 5 hours of sunlight in any given day (reducing to virtually no sun at all in December and January).
It is obvious why this city has been used and favoured as a spot to exile the troublesome throughout Russian and Soviet history, yet Verkhoyansk is attempting a revamp. As some people stay in ice hotels, the city is hoping to cash in on it’s climate, by attracting extreme tourists who wish to indulge in the bitter harsh elements… it’s something different at least!
8. Coming Out The Closet…
How well do people really know every nook and cranny of their house? Who’s to say what’s lurking within? This may sound like a poor tagline for some cheap horror movie, but the living have always had a penchant to be more creepy than the dead ever could!
So, imagine this sanctuary was invaded, not by insects or pests of any kind, but a totally strange human being. A 57-year-old Japanese man noticed that his food had begun to disappear. Puzzled, he set up a camera to observe any strange happenings, only to find that an intruder was in his apartment, a trespasser police discovered to be 58-year-old Tatsuko Horikawa. The woman had been living in an upper compartment of a storage closet in the man’s apartment! She had even stored a futon in there and took showers when the man was out, for a year!
The very name Greenland is ironic, as vegetation is as rare as people on the large island (the world’s second largest island in fact, Australia being the largest). The 57,000 people who inhabit the island must be a very hardy folk indeed; sharing an island with polar bears and biting chill can’t be easy, after all. Nor can extremes of day and night, many places experiencing three months of unending day in the summer and three months of no daylight in winter.
6. Sistan Basin, Afghanistan
As dry as the freezing ice of Greenland is, there are plenty of hot counterparts throughout the planet. One of these is the Sistan Basin in the Asian country of Afghanistan. Also, like Greenland, it is evidence of our effect on many of the planet’s ecosystems, as it used to be home to the Hamoun wetlands fed by the Helmand River. Once a fertile place, home to wildlife and a haven of agriculture, the area began to dry up in the 1990s through relentless irrigation and drought. Years of war in the nation has failed to return the area to what it was once was, so now the basin, on the nation’s southern border, has become one of the Earth’s driest spots, despite UN attempts to repair the damage.
5. Changthang Region, Tibetan Plateau
Don’t look down! The average height of this region is around 16,400 feet! The steppe is home to birds, Tibetan gazelle and wild sheep and the nomadic Changpa people. One must possess a very brave altitude – sorry, attitude – to live in such a place and a head for heights must be born and bred into these people – no vertigo when you practically live on a mountainside.
4. Single Room, Single Location
As though they were straight out of the plot of the movie The Village, this family turned their backs on the world completely, ditching civilization by living on a mountainside!
The Siberian mountainside was disturbed by a team of geologists in 1978, who discovered The Lykov Family. The Lykov’s fled religious persecution in 1936, during the darkest days of the Stalin regime and had resided on the side of the mountain in one room. They survived on potatoes, rye and hemp seeds, until the boy of the family learned to trap in the late 50s. Their diet became more extreme as the mother died when winter ruined their crops, relying on only bark and shoe leather to see them through.
When discovered, the children had never seen another human outside of their family, their language fragmented after having only prayer books and a Bible as reading material. Amazingly, the family remained in their little room following the discovery, only accepting some equipment, no doubt to modernize their hermit-like lives.
3. The Maldives
These lush tropical islands seem like paradise and they are, on the surface and that is the problem, how long they will remain on the surface? With only a maximum elevation of 6 feet above sea level, the archipelago in the Indian Ocean is at the mercy of rising waters. So much so that it is estimated it will soon be under water. The house on the St. Lawrence River is one thing, but one third were left homeless in when the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami struck the islands. The capital island city of Male submerged by the King Tides of 1987. So when the last President was sworn in, he became the first to draw up an evacuation plan for the islands and their 300,000 citizens should The Maldives go under.
2. House in Nas Montanhas de Fafe, Portugal
Ever heard of the expression: “caught between a rock and a hard place?” Well, this Portuguese country retreat kind of embodies that old saying – except that it’s between two rocks. Perhaps the owner of the house and the architect got some giants on board to help roll some boulders into place, as a much quicker and cheaper construction alternative? Built in 1974, the house is without power (even though a wind turbine is next door!) This house has grown into a regular tourist attraction, though some of the visits to the dwelling have turned sour, with several break ins, resulting in bulletproof windows and a steel door bolstering this “rock solid” house.
1. Tornado Corridor, Oklahoma City,Tulsa, USA
The Interstate Corridor 44 runs past Oklahoma City and Tulsa and more than a million Americans live in this region of the State. Yet 120 tornados assailed Oklahoma City since 1890 and on May 3rd 1999, 70 tornados raged through Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma, especially the titular city of the final State, wiping out 1,700 homes and a damaging a further 6,500, equal to $1 billion in damage. Only 5 years have passed in this area without a tornado hitting it (1992-1998). Tulsa County also has been ravaged by 69 tornados between the years 1950-2006, although not as disastrous as the Oklahoma City twisters, the city has been flooded in 1974, 1976 and 1984. The perpetual concern and frustration that living in a place where your home, work and everything you hold dear in the space of a few minutes must be maddening. But it also shows how crazy humans are about carrying on and living their lives.