Monday, February 11, 2013

Me, struggling up the last bit of the stairs, 15 minutes into the climb!                                       

We climbed up Jacob’s Ladder, it was quite the heart racing climb.  Barry continued to ascend fairly steadily, although he did stop to rest and I was close enough to talk to him until just past the middle.  Then I had to stop longer and more regularly than he did and he was 3 minutes ahead of me at the end.  We walked about 2/3 of the way down the steps and then hiked along the ridge and down into town.  My legs were quivering for awhile afterwards.  We visited the museum and learned more of the fascinating history of the island.  St. Helena played a role when the British were attempting to stop the slave trade between Africa/Brazil and the Caribbean. When the slave ships were captured they were brought here and the slaves were freed here.  The island population’s demographics are a testament to that with a great mixing of the races.  The white British sailors and soldiers, the Portuguese, the Chinese, the Boers, the Malays and the Africans all mixed and matched here and the people are a wonderful light brown, and when the locals are talking to each other one really has to listen to catch what they are saying, their accents are so broad. 
Tagish arrived from Namibia so we arranged to do one last hike with them before we parted ways.  We are heading to southern Brazil and they are off to Ascension and then the Barbados.  We hiked the highest point on the island, Diana’s Peak. Most of the hike was on an old road through the flax fields. Flax was brought in from New Zealand and was a viable industry here from the 1930’s to the 1960’s when cotton and nylon killed the market. The climate is totally different at sea level in town from the our hiking route.  In town it is hot and dry while up above the clouds roll up from the sea on the windward side of the island and it is damp and cool.  We all really enjoyed our time up in the clouds.  
We had a great dive on the steamship Papanui that sunk just off shore in the harbour.  It was using coal for fuel and when it left a fire was discovered in one of the bunkers, they managed to sail back into Jamestown and beached the boat.  They got all the passengers off and awhile later she sunk.  It is over 100 meters long and it was great fun, swimming around the pieces that were left on the bottom.  There were lots of small fish and we saw 4 or 5 good sized crayfish.  There tentacles were monstrous, they would have been great for supper. 
We are off in a few hours, just going ashore this morning to check out and stock up on essentials such as mild, bread and chocolate!!  If I can hook up to the internet via our ham radio I will send reports, if not I have promised to phone every three days so you can monitor our progress. My brother who is vacationing in Arizona has said he will keep up the blog for me. 

Note the height, 823m and that is very close to sea level
The lichen was awesome on this tree

The flax along the old road