On October 17, 1989, I do not remember where I was, but I sort of remember what happened. The third game of the World Series was about to start and an earthquake hit the Bay area. I was studying Pathology and I wasn't watching the series that night. The series got postponed for 10 days and even though I wasn't the biggest Oakland A's fan (the Twins won the western division in 1987 and 1991 with Oakland winning the three years in between), I decided to go home and watch the third game with my grandfather Allwin. This idea changed my life, the earthquake changed my life, the fact that Oakland won game three and took an 8-0 lead in the 6th inning of the fourth game, changed my life.
So let us start there, ....With Oakland going ahead 8-0 in the top of the 6th inning on October 28, 1989, ahead 3 games to none, my grandfather gave up and walked upstairs and went to bed (they won 9-6 and clinched the series about an hour later). It was just 10 PM. I got bored at the game and trolled channels (we only had 5) and my life changed. A show as just starting on PBS was a special about some great Journey. It was to a place I'd never heard of and I knew maps.
Here is the link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpPesVPfWlk&t=1116s
The words that started the show, have been etched in my mind for now thirty years as said by John Heminway, documentary writer.
"Tristan da Cunha. It is hardly a place. It is a destination of the mind. Tristan da Cunha, it has become a sing song folk music theme of this show. I am beginning to have my doubts and am not sure I want to get there any more, just in case I'm let down. Tristan da Cunha.....Tristan da Cunha.....Tristan da Cunha."
I'll let you watch it, just saying the words is causing me to cry, to have goose bumps, and I'm beginning to be overwhelmed. Tristan da Cunha....
I watched that TV show and I was moved. Maybe it was the way the host continually repeated the destination Tristan da Cunha, many many times. I don't know. I do not know if I ever saw John Hemminway do another documentary but I saw this one. I was 23 and I decided that life is about adventure, no matter what, somehow, some way, I'd get to Tristan da Cunha, because it was Tristan da Cunha, the greatest place to go on earth.
A lot happened since then. I got married in 1990, I graduated medical school in 1992, we moved, moved again, moved again, had twins, moved, moved, had a daughter., started a business...
along the way my first email contact was the newsletter of the HMS St. Helena, the only way to get out there and I bought a rare 200 dollar book about the place, as it was out of print and well, Penguins, Potatoes, and Postage Stamps was a great title and only one copy was available on Amazon.
I never added this to my bucket list as I didn't really add things to the list in my 20s, AND it was so improbable, so impossible, so impracticable....,10 days at sea after getting to Cape Town, South Africa and a wife who gets seasick? It would take a six week block just to try it AND not always does the ship even go or land, in fact, bailing on Tristan is more normal. 6 weeks to go for your dream and then have it dashed?
Tristan da Cunha, maybe just getting there is a let down, and I shouldn't have tried? Maybe it is the dream that is important NOT the journey itself.
A tiny speck of land, a 7600 foot high mountain, 1510 miles east of Cape Town, the most remote settlement on Earth, why? why? Why is this important?
The volcano erupted in 1961 causing everyone to be evacuated and then 2 years later, they returned, but why? It just added to the mystique. I had to go, somehow, some way, and then I saw a trip, I talked others into going, it was the convincing of my life, I could sell a religion easier but maybe Tristan da Cunha, is a religion.
Silja and I have been on a month trip with the ultimate goal Tristan da Cunha. We left a month ago and when the boat headed north in South Georgia I looked at the weather, and it didn't look good. One woman leading excursions had came 5 times and landed twice. We had a native Tristaner on the boat and he even seemed doubtful. Two days ago in Gough, it looked impossible and then
it happened. The clouds parted, the waves ebbed, the sun shone, and wow! WOW! WOW!
Tristan da Cunha!
I came, I saw, I was there. Let me say it. Every wave, every rock, every scheme, every step, every roll, every thought, every doubt, everything, was worth it. It was the best day, the best day I've spent anywhere. It was glorious, it was wonderful. It was fulfilling. It was great. It was marvelous, it was an adjective I haven't learned yet.
We walked the village of 265 people. We climbed a couple of hills. We could not climb the 7600 volcano, just what erupted 50 years ago. We found a rare bird. We drank beer. We stretched on the grass. We ate lobster, and we bought stamps....it was Tristan da Cunha!
My wife had a southern painted lady butterfly light on her and as such, we had wonderful luck. This is a place many try to visit but few even making the 1500 mile journey can't land, the weather Gods frowning and keeping them at sea.
We came and we enjoyed, we smiled, we left, and now ...we remember.
Some views of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas and Tristan da Cunha.