The story of 19-year-old Aldi Novel Adilang is something straight out of The Life of Pi.
Aldi may not have had a Tiger on board, but he didn’t even have a boat…
Working as a lamp keeper on a fish trap 125km out to sea, Aldi would only have brief human contact and a walkie-talkie for company.
Though on 14th July, after months at his post, a hard wind blew him away from his home in North Sulawesi. 49 days and 2,500km later, he ended up in Guam waters.
Add hunger, thirst, and fear to the loneliness and you’ve got a recipe for a Hollywood blockbuster!
Indeed, had it been a less resourceful teenager, it could have ended in tragedy.
Aldi’s job was to light lamps around the rompong (a fish trap) for 6 months, with only a power generator to attract fish every night.
Once a week, his employer – who manages 50 other rompong – would send someone to harvest the fish and resupply Aldi with a week’s worth of food, gas for cooking, clean water, and fuel for the generator.
But when the rope that anchored Aldi’s rompong tore after the storm, the teenager floated helplessly without a paddle or engine.
His supplies ran out after a few days.
Resourceful, Aldi caught fish and drank sea water to survive.
According to Indonesian consul general in Osaka, Japan, Mr. Mirza Nurhidayat:
“After he ran out of the cooking gas, he burned the rompong’s wooden fences to make a fire for cooking. He drank by sipping water from his clothes that had been wetted by sea water.”
“Every time he saw a large ship, he said, he was hopeful, but more than 10 ships had sailed past him. None of them stopped or saw [him].”
No wonder he often cried.
Finally, on 31st August, the bulk carrier Arpeggio sailed past Mr Aldi, who waved his cloth again for help.
At first, the ship couldn’t see him.
Undeterred, Aldi tuned his radio to a frequency a friend of his had once told him to use in case he was blown away and saw a large ship.
The captain picked up the signal and rescued him… not before large waves forced the weakened teenager to jump into the ocean and swim towards the rope the crew had tossed him.
Clothed, fed and even given a haircut by his saviors, they took him to Japan on 6th September.
After making contact with Indonesian authorities and Aldi’s family, he finally flew to Jakarta on 8th Jakarta.
He was back in Monado the next day.
Aldi’s story is an uplifting tale of survival and endurance of spirit.
We can’t wait for the movie!