Life on the most remote inhabited island in the world

Back to Cape Town


Written 1 February whilst en route to Cape Town 

Our journey from Tristan started on Sunday 27th January, and we left the island under cloudy skies and with bumpy seas.  Caitlin fell asleep on the journey from the harbour to the boat, so missed the scary lifting up of the ‘box’ onto the boat.  The box is used for those are not in any position to climb up the pilot ladder onto the boat – such as those of us the kids or with injuries.  I normally prefer to box to the climb, but must admit that this time, my heart was sitting in my throat for a fair amount of the time. We got underway at about lunch time, and have been blessed with glorious weather all of the way, so far.  The first few days were really, really hot, but as we have neared Cape Town, the weather has become milder and today, the sun is shining, the skies are clear and there is a breeze coming through the port hole of our cabin. 

Caitlin and Erik are having a sleep and I’m taking this opportunity to write something for the blog. Leaving Tristan was really, really hard – I hate saying good bye at the best of times, but leaving the island is really heart wrenching and I’m finding it harder and harder every time we have to go back to South Africa for a visit.  The thought of going back into the ‘big’ world is also a little intimidating, as on Tristan we live in a bit of bubble and our lives are very much focussed on the things that affect us and the rest of the world doesn’t really seem to have much relevance most of the time.  It is going to take some adjusting to, and Caitlin in particular I think it going to find it hard being in a city, for what is effectively, the first time.  She was in Cape Town so long ago (and left when she was four months old) that this is going to be something of a shock to her system. We got our Land Rover the day before we left to come back to Cape Town and I took her for a ride out to the patches and for some mom/daughter bonding time… she cried the whole way out and back and does not like the car very much at all… no wonder really, she was last in a car when she was a tiny baby. 

The last day I was at home on Tristan, I spent some time getting some gifts together for our girls in Germany and for family in South Africa.  Debbie Elsmore, who lives on Tristan at the moment, makes some of the most stunning crafts and I ended up buying a whole load of things from her to take home. 

 I also bought some lovely rockhopper penguin soft toys from Jimmy and Felicity Glass and think these are really, really super gifts to give to people.  As always, there was so many things to get, but only so much money with which to get it… 

I have resolved this year to take a leaf out of the Tristan book and try to be just a little more Tristanian if I can.  By this, I mean this year I’d like to make the effort to show people how important they are.  Very often, we have intentions of letting the people in our lives know they make a difference, but time and the rush of life means that before we know it, a week or three has passed, and that phone call we meant to make is still on the ‘to do’ list.  On Tristan, they seem to understand that time is something you can’t take for granted, and they take the time to show one another they care – not necessarily in grand ways, but by baking a cake for your birthday; by making you a roast for lunch, for no other reason than just because they can; by arriving at your house with gifts of meat or potatoes – in each of these very special ways, do the people of Tristan remind one another that they matter.  I’m going to try to remember the important birthdays, to take the time to write to my friends, and to always put my best effort into the people in my life.  Whether this is always going to be possible is another thing, but perhaps being around the Tristanians will help me with my resolve. 

We left our dog Steffie with Marie while we are away in Cape Town.  It is always a difficult decision – to leave her where she is and take the chance we may not see her again, or bring her back to Cape Town with us (with all the accompanying bureaucracy and needless stress on the dog).  For myself, I know I’d prefer to have her with us, but realistically, at 16 years old, she is hardly in a position to do the trip between Tristan and Cape Town without any thought.


More to follow soon….


Comments on: "Back to Cape Town" (1)

  1. Pierre Ferreira said:

    Wow you’re so lucky to have called Tristan your home. I have lived in Cape Town – it’s a beautiful city. For now I’m back studying on the other side of South Africa. One of my big to-do’s in life is to visit the remote island community.

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