Packing for Tristan

One thing I learned about taking a cruise of the fjords of Norway in the middle of the summer is that being on board a ship can be quite cold. Some of the passengers had past experience cruising the northern waterways and came prepared with toques and gloves. I only had a thin jacket with a hood. I had brought no long-sleeve shirts at all on that trip. I was never freezing to death while on deck, but it was cold and I appreciated the loan of one of Mark’s hooded sweatshirts (as well as all the coffee I could drink). When I travel to Tristan next week, I will be prepared for the rough windy seas of the south Atlantic and will err on the side of overpacking my suitcase with plenty of warm clothes. I am going to bring a light hooded jacket, a sweater, some long-sleeve shirts and my cycling raincoat and rain pants. This time of year the temperature ranges between 10°C and 15°C and it is at the end of the rainy season. An umbrella is useless on Tristan because the wind would tear it to pieces, so overall rainwear, such that I use when cycling, is best.

Ever since Mark and I lost our luggage for three days during a flight to Florida, I have had the foresight to pack some clothes and other necessities into my carry-on luggage. I did this for several years but I did not do this during our recent European trip. I certainly will stuff my backpack with extra clothes should the unthinkable occur and I lose my luggage en route to Cape Town. Passengers aboard the S. A. Agulhas II however will not have room in their cabins for all their luggage. We have received instructions that we may bring only one bag into our cabins. That bag will have to contain all that we will need for the week’s voyage at sea. Thus all clothing, toiletries, books and so on will have to fit into one carry-on bag. I will use my backpack. The rest of our luggage will be placed in ship’s storage. We will have permission to retrieve things from our stored luggage if need be, however we will have to be accompanied by the purser on board. Although no one has told me otherwise, I believe it would be a great inconvenience if the purser had to traipse down to the storage area every time a passenger forgot his dental floss, so I will plan for my week at sea without needing to see my luggage again until arrival at Tristan.

I will not be buying much in Tristan. The island’s website sells souvenirs and one can also find these in the island’s shop. I already own several books and maps that are for sale. In fact, Conrad Glass, the author of Rockhopper Copper: The Life and Times of the People of the Most Remote Inhabited Island on Earth, Tristan da Cunha will be on the island and I am taking my book over to get autographed. I have also found out that Karen Lavarello-Schreier, coauthor of Tristan da Cunha: History, People, Language will be on board the ship that takes me to Tristan. The souvenirs I plan to buy are postcards, stamps, bookmarks and maybe a T-shirt or fleece pullover. I am taking over however boxes and boxes of cookies and chocolates. My contact on the island has recommended that I bring biscuits and chocolates as they are always welcome gifts. I just bought five boxes of cookies yesterday and I will buy the chocolates on Thursday. A small zipped shoulder bag can hold all of them and they may take up as much capacity as all the books I usually buy, but they certainly don’t weigh as much. I cannot foresee that I will be replacing the volume of cookie and chocolate boxes with Tristan souvenirs. Aside from postcards and fridge magnets, the only souvenirs I am interested in getting while in Cape Town, on the other hand, are books on any of the click languages. I am hoping to get some with audio components. Even then, I don’t see myself replacing my Tristan goodie bag with souvenirs for myself so I might arrive home with less than I left with. We’ll just have to wait and see about that.

Tristan da Cunha has an Internet café. The rate for the duration of my 26-day visit is £25, or roughly one pound a day. I plan to write about both of my vacations while I am there, as I have had no time at all since I got home from Europe to write about it or even to look at the hundreds of photos I took. I however do not plan to spend my entire time on Tristan sitting in front of a computer terminal. It would be fun though to post photos from Tristan while I am actually on the island. Tristan is four hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, the time zone where I live, so it might even be possible to chat via Gmail or to have real-time E-mail exchanges.

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