Jim Favor's journeys travel blog

We arrived just off Edinburgh of the Seven Seas on the island of Tristan da Cunha just before breakfast time. That is a big name for a small town [about 270 inhabitants]. The island is obviously a volcano. It looks as if there is very little usable land – most of the island is nearly vertical.

It was easy to see the new vent. In 1961 a vent opened right outside the town. It made a mini-cone and spewed ash and lava. The islanders were forced to flee without much warning. Instead of burying the town, the lava flowed directly to the sea. Their only harbor was filled with lava. Only one house burned, but they lost their only factory. The evacuees were sent to England. When given the chance, almost every one chose to return home to the island.

The weather is not being good to us today. The wind has not died as much as it was supposed to. The sea swells are still significant. We have not been able to get on land. We spent the morning cruising around the island. There isn’t anything to see besides the town. The bird lovers have been having a good time trying to get the perfect photo of each of the bird species flying by the ship. I spent an hour or so myself trying my best, but didn’t get any photos to write home about.

About noon several islanders came aboard. Seven are officials and are staying for dinner. Six others are going with us to Cape Town. Not many ships stop here and there is no airport. Anyone wanting to get to the mainland has to take whatever is available. They most often go on a fishing trawler, so our ship is a great luxury for them. Among the six is a newly married couple. They are young and very good looking, so everyone makes a big fuss over them. She is from Tristan and he from England, but they are headed to France to live.

We spent the afternoon cruising past Inaccessible Island and around Nightingale Island. We all took photos, but there wasn’t anything unusual to see. We arrived back off Edinburgh in late afternoon. Before dinner we had a talk given by the government education specialist. He is from Britain, sent by the colonial administration to help upgrade the schooling. All the teachers are islanders who have never been off the island for training. His job is to help them upgrade their skills. He also teaches the children. He has only recently arrived, but he had the same job here about a decade ago and knows the place well. He gave a good overview of the island and its history.

We had two guests at our table at dinner. One was a native of Cape Town who was returning home after visiting friends on the island. He was not an avid conversationalist. He did not initiate conversations and mostly gave one sentence replies to questions. The other person was an islander, but he sat too far away for me to carry on a conversation. I was able to overhear some of his remarks to those seated nearby and I wished I was seated nearer to him.

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