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Published: April 24th 2006
Tristan da Cunha
We started out from Cape Town, South Africa, at the Victoria and Alfred waterfront, which is a real working port beside luxury hotels and beautiful shops. We stayed at the Breakwater hotel which was a women's prison a hundred years ago, but has been converted into a University dorm/hotel, but some of the prison reminders remain.
We left early one morning with Table mountain in the background on the 70M fishing boat Edinburgh on the 1750 km trip to Tristan da Cunha. It was a tedious 6 days, an emotional downward spiral, with little to do but learn patience. The ship plowed through the rough South Atlantic with a constant multicomponent motion which made walking, showering, eating and sleeping an adventure.
A few days away from Cape Town the sea gulls left us, and the albatross took their place following in the wake
Our first glimpse of the island was on the 6 th morning when we were 80 miles out. The island rose out of the south Atlantic - 2010m volcanic peak, 10 km diameter
If the sea is rough, we would have to wait to unload, but it was calm so
the 3 day process started immediately.
When we got ashore our legs still felt like the groung was rolling - at first it was hard to stand still.
Since there is no guest house or hotel, I was welcomed into the home of Julia, Katlin, and Karl Hagan. The original house was built shortly after the settlement was established in 1811. Julia, in addition to running the hardware store, looked after all the meals. Katlin (2 years old) supervised everything.
The island is a healthy environment. It gets 3116mm rain/year which the high winds change in to avertical rain. The sea shimmers and roars constantly - a novelty for someone who lives 1500KM from the sea. It is a paradise as well - there always seems to be a football game on TV, as the island has the BFBS (British Forces TV)
For some, the island can be considered a relaxing environment. The 250 people living there form a big extended family.
The project that I was working with brougnt 24 hour electrical power to the town, but many islanders wondered if they really needed it. 10 years ago there were 2 cars, now over 100;
there is even a mini-rush hour as people leave for their cottages 4 km away at the "Patches" on Friday at 2 pm. They say that there is no divorce, no unemployment, and large projects (such as installing a new roof) call for a barn raising style of party.
The Queens birthday was a good reason for a party at the school. The men stand outside, the women talk inside, prizes are given for various things (I was looking to marry the winner of the chocolate cake competition)
After 5 weeks the Edinburgh was back to pick us up (and bring supplies and beer to the island) so it was time to go. I was told to leave my passport on the Hagen's kitchen counter because everyone knew (including the immigration department) that I was staying at Julia's.
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