It was particularly hard for me to leave Cape Town this year, as I have developed a new found appreciation for my family. I guess partly it’s because of Caitlin, and really wanting her to have every opportunity to see her grandparents, cousins and sisters; and having been so far away and having seen the Tristan way of enjoying your family, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of people who love you regardless – warts and all…
Having said that, I was so pleased to see the island – not so much because it was so far from Cape Town, as for the fact that is wasn’t moving around and is in very little danger of sinking!
Our trip over was pretty horrid for me, and I’m sure it wasn’t much of a picnic for poor old Erik either – for the first three or four days he was on semi full-time Caitlin duty, as I could really only manage baby sitting duties that could be done lying down. Sitting up for longer than 15 minutes in most case was enough to turn me an alarming shade of green.
After that, I was okay, as long as I didn’t pay too much attention to anything, so reading was out, and even watching DVDs was an exercise in nausea control. The angle of the boat was rather extreme at times and made showering a opportunity to run the gauntlet with the various sticky-outy bits in the bathroom. I arrived back from this trip with bruises in places I didn’t even know I had places.
After 8 and a half really bumpy and rough days at sea, the sight of the island in the distance was incredible.
We first sighted Tristan at about 8am in the morning, but only arrived at the harbour at about 1pm, where we waited for the all clear and confirmation that they would be fetching passengers, and we weren’t going to spend another night on the Edinburgh.
It was so great to see so many friendly and familiar faces in the barge and amongst the stevedores on the boat. When we arrived on the island, Ingrid (the Doc’s wife) was waiting down at the harbour, with Steffie (our Staffordshire Bull Terrier) in tow – and what a welcome sight they were. Caitlin’s godmother, Marlene was there with her family, as well as Beverly and Rianna, all with cards and hugs and kisses… what a wonderful welcome for us! There were many, many more people who came to say hello, and I’m embarrassed to admit I can’t remember who all of them were, but I do know we were thrilled at the warm welcome we received.
The house was even more of a surprise as Marlene had gone in to make sure it was all clean and fresh and there were a number of cakes, home made crisps, biscuits and loaves of bread on the table, along with a huge cottage pie.
We went to Carel and Ingrid’s for dinner on the Friday night, and were introduced to the new comers and visitors to the island.
Father Chris is the Anglican priest who has come down (hopefully) for a two year stint, and Jean is here monitoring the seismology station until September (he’s replaced Thierry, who we believe is currently in Japan visiting his girlfriend).
Visitors: Alexandra is from Frankfurt and was here for a month. She says that the trip down to Tristan has been a life changing and positive experience for her and she now looks at the world in a very different way compared to when she first arrived. She was particularly sad to be leaving as she had formed a very good relationship with so many of the islanders but is determined to come back to visit as soon as she can.
In addition, we had a long term visitor to the island and the temporary mechanical engineer at the factory, Andries, who will be with us until December. He is staying in the flat at the back of the house and while enjoying his time here, is missing his wife, Nicole and Gregory, his 3 month old son.
It was lovely getting together and having dinner without having to worry about whether your plate was going to slide across the table as you were eating and without having to brace yourself so your chair didn’t slide out the door of the mess room. (On one particularly memorable day, Janice and I ended up wearing our tea, as a sudden lurch to the one side knocked three steaming cups across the room and onto my lap and her legs – the hysterics were in proportion to our relief that no one had actually been hurt).
The following day, Ingrid brought down a huge piece of stuffed mutton, a chocolate cake and a pudding which had been left with her for Erik and I by Barbara and Herbert. It was yummy and we ate like kings!
Monday night we had dinner at Mike and Janice’s as it was likely to be the last opportunity for all of the visitors to get together before the boat left for Cape Town.
As it turned out, the cargo was only off loaded from the boat on Thursday, and passengers boarded late Friday afternoon for the return voyage (only 7 days off schedule!)
With a welcome such as this, it’s been easy to settle in to being back on the island. In many ways, it’s as if we never left, and yet, there are changes – the kids show signs of getting taller and older, while we adults only seem to get fatter and more wrinkled.
We’ve been back just on two weeks now and the world has stopped rocking, I’m able to get down the corridor without holding on to the walls for support and soon the memory of the trip will have faded and I can start psyching myself up for the trip back to Cape Town next year. Meanwhile, Tristan stays the same and I take comfort in that fact for the people here are kind, generous and always welcoming and we are privileged to be sharing their space.