I have always had dreams to travel to faraway or not your typical tourist destinations. While lying on the floor as a boy I would pore over the province of Ontario road map, which to me then was as big as a blanket, and wonder about all the towns and settlements in the far north. One day I hope to visit the communities in Ontario’s northland. It would be a lot easier if I knew how to drive, and I could give up on hoping and start planning. As my age entered the double digits I would go to the library early on Saturday and spend hours with the National Geographic Atlas of the World, exploring international borders, checking out the world’s micro-nations and visiting islands which on all other maps were formless black specks in the ocean. The National Geographic Atlas brought these tiny countries and islands to life with their large-scale projections. I would dream, too, of one day visiting places like Liechtenstein, San Marino and Pitcairn Island.
I am at a point in my life now where I want to start living and stop dreaming. Last year I stopped dreaming and decided to go to North Korea. While not the travel destination for many, it had been lurking in my cache of dreams for years. For my next holiday I decided to place an extended leave request at work. The last time I took a leave of absence was twelve years ago, when I took the entire summer of 2000 off in order to study Finnish in Finland. I took a risk that my manager and everyone on up would decline my leave request, but I presented my case and it was approved. That summer was the happiest time of my life.
In order to visit my next dream destination, I would need more than the five weeks of vacation time I get per year, for the place I want to go to is known as the remotest inhabited island on the planet. Once again, I wrote to my supervisor and manager, and then presented my case to my manager’s manager, and last week my leave request was approved: from September to October of next year I will be visiting the island of Tristan da Cunha.
As with my trip to North Korea, a trip to the world’s remotest inhabited island takes months of planning. One cannot just get on a plane and fly to Tristan (not having an airport on the island may have something to do with it). Since the beginning of May I have been involved with island personnel, the Island Council, and have consulted next year’s shipping schedules. There is already a lot to write about. Over the course of the next fourteen months I will share my plans to visit the loneliest place on the planet.