Way out in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean sits St. Helena Island. Crusty and volcanic on the outside, lush and green on the inside, St. Helena is most noted as Napoleon's island of exile. On our passage from Cape Town, South Africa to Charleston, South Carolina, we stopped at St. Helena for nearly a week to enjoy a little “Saint” hospitality.
There's no other way to get to St. Helena other than by boat, so anyone who arrives is welcomed warmly. We were lucky to have made contact with the island's communication officer, Gilbert, in advance and he greeted us on the radio when we arrived and acted as our island host for the duration of our stay. He gave us a tour of St. Helena like no other. Inside and outside, nooks and crannies, places he had roamed since childhood. It was incredible.
There's no place to anchor close to the shore and no place to tie up a dinghy, so a water taxi picks you up and brings you back and forth. You debark the water taxi by grabbing a rope and swinging onto land.
Highlights of the island included the largest and only town of Jamestown. Walking through the stone arch into the town was like stepping back into time. Victorian buildings lined the neat main street and everything was up, up, up from there.
Jacob's Ladder is comprised of 699 steps and was originally constructed in 1829 to haul manure and goods up the 600' to the road above.
Though Napoleon was exiled for six years here, he certainly did not have a tough time of it. He was given servants, a large house and the freedom to roam portions of the island by horseback and on foot. We visited his home at Longwood, a tiny piece of France in St. Helena and also his grave where he was laid to rest in 1821. His remains were moved to France several years later.
High Knoll Fort was built as a citadel in 1894, a last place of protection should St. Helena be invaded.
As always, a picnic with Gilbert and his family at Colin's Place was a fun way to enjoy our new friends and learn more about St. Helena. Local knowledge and friendship is always the best.
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