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  • Writer's pictureTwo Drifters

St Helena – Stepping Back in Time

We love exploring new destinations. It’s not just a case of visiting somewhere new, but our intrepid curiosity encourages us to see as much as we can, especially by sampling the local dishes and drinks and trying out different experiences that can sometimes take us out of our comfort zone.

It’s also the people we meet on our travels that can totally make our visit – and we found the residents of St Helena so very warm and welcoming. I also have to doff the hat to the Yacht Club as a great venue to share some salty dog tales between sailors.

Yesterday, we had such a fun and characterful tour around St Helena in a battered Datsun pick-up with Robert, our 87-year-old guide. Aside from a little blip where he ran out of petrol going up a steep hill(!), he was a font of all knowledge and we discovered many interesting details about St Helena. One of the more quirky facts was that TV was only introduced there in 1995! And Ro bert also told us about how he was a young boy on the dock when RFA Darkdale was torpedoed in 1941 by German submarine U68.

It was once an important port of call for ships sailing to Asia and Southern Africa from Europe. And, for the history buffs, Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte was exiled here in 1815, until his death in 1821. While he was initially buried in the middle of the island – and there’s a tomb to see – his remains were exhumed a few years later and taken to Paris, France.

Walking around the capital of Jamestown is like stepping back in time to an old Cornish village, including several corner-shop type grocers that don’t take credit cards, dark one-room taverns and midweek half-day closing. There’s an abundance of Georgian architecture, the street signs are typically English, the currency is pounds sterling and it also has the oldest Anglican church in the Southern Hemisphere. Oh and it rained every day!

But it was the topography of the island that surprised us the most from a craggy black volcanic exterior to an interior, beautifully full of colourful flowers and a lush green landscape of trees, flax and grazing animals.

For us, the most frustrating side of St Helena was its lack of telephone comms. Each day, we individually paid £3.30 for 30 minutes of wifi, something which we were only able to do once a day to fit in around our exploration of the island. Sadly, we’ve been unable to upload more photos, so stand-by for a backlog once we reach Brazil.

Talking of which, in other news, this morning we left St Helena as there’s a large swell coming through which would have been uncomfortable to be there in. We are now bound for Fernando de Noronha in Brazil, so hope the sofa sailors have battened down the hatches and are prepared for a dry 12-day sail across the South Atlantic!

Date: Friday 3rd March 2023

© Two Drifters Travel

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