Somewhere in the Middle of the Atlantic Ocean there is one not particularly big, but quite a remarkable volcanic island. Remote and isolated from the rest of the world, St. Helena archipelago is an extraordinary place. Time seems to have stopped here somewhere in the last century, and that brings a sense of calmness and serenity, a rare find in the modern world. The island is inhabited by ‘Saints’. Many of them are descendants from slaves from old slave ships coming from different places; thus people there show a genetic variety unlike any other place I’ve been to. They are wonderful and very kind people. They smile and wave at every passing car!
The Saints smoke one brand of cigarettes, can buy fresh fruit and vegs only on Thursdays and are the least materialistic nation I’ve met. As one lady told me: ‘We do not have everything, but we make the most of what we have. And if someone has too much of home grown vegetables, they just share the excess with their neighbours’.
The island is entirely supported by British tax payers and therefore has got a very strange economy. All the jobs are those paid for by the government: firemen, teachers, social workers etc. The private sector is virtually non existent.
Not in many places can you loose your bag with money and documents, call a fire brigade, who will find it for you and drop it at a police station. Jake was so happy to find his belongings intact. We were also amused to use the public phone on ‘Long Street’ -see the photo. The telephone numbers on the island are short and simple. Something like 2233.
The history lovers will also find it invaluable to visit the house and grave of Napoleon, who was sent to the island as a prisoner and eventually died there. Although interesting fact, the grave is actually empty. The body was shipped to France, as ordered by Bonaparte himself.
Plantation – the house of the governour. Inhabited by the oldest Saint on the island. The tortoise below.
Robert, probably the nicest guide on Earth, has his own little company : ‘History on wheels’. He is related to everyone successful on the island and has enough stories to keep you busy (and interested) for an entire day.
Currently the only way to access the island is from the water, but they are building an airport. And this is pretty unfortunate, because the island will loose its charm once the herds of rich tourist flying on chartered aircrafts will flood the peaceful land. And there will be many of them, because it is a recently discovered location for whale sharks migrations and one of the best places to dive with those magnificent animals.