Week Four Picks: Come to Tristan da Cunha, the most remote island in the world

NASA image of Tristan da Cunha

NASA image of Tristan da Cunha

I’m a sucker for strange, out-of-this world stories. In this age of social media and limitless sources of information, you’d think there isn’t a tale that hasn’t been told already. But there’s always a nugget that surprisingly blows my mind.

For instance, the profile of the most remote island in the world, Tristan da Cunha piqued my interest since returning home from my vacation with beach sand still in my shoes. I thought St. Pete was secluded. This South Atlantic island, 1,750 miles from Cape Town, South Africa, isn’t sand and palm trees. It enjoys an obscene amount of rainfall (up to 26 days’ worth), has no hotels, no safe swimming locales while sitting on an active volcano.

If you’re feeling to get your über-travel on, you have to be prepared, for real. The island’s visitors web page keeps it 100 from the jump:

“You can’t just turn up in Cape Town and jump on a ship to Tristan da Cunha.”

Hikers at the 1961 eruption ruins.

Hikers at the 1961 eruption ruins.

First of all, you’d need to ask your employer for some time off, approximately 20-30 days at least, since it takes nearly a week to get there by boat (Oh yeah, did I mention there’s no airport on the island?). Plus, there are only a handful of sailings per year. You have to be serious about visiting. Some travelers stay for months at a time and become part of the community of nearly 300 people; time enough to explore all the trails and wildlife.

Second, you’ll need permission. The Island Council is Tristan da Cunha’s elected body. You want to visit? You literally have to ask them. They give the “yay” or “nay”.

Most who visit the island are of the medical, teaching or religious profession as well as avid hikers, writers and filmmakers. Suffice to say, if your “Why” answer is “To chill with my homies in a far away land,” you’re probably not making the cut.

You want on the island? You have to get through these folks: The Island Council. Source: Tristan da Cunha Government and the Tristan da Cunha Association

You want on the island? You have to get through these folks: The Island Council.
Source: Tristan da Cunha Government and the Tristan da Cunha Association

Stretching 7.5 miles in diameter, the island hosts many tours such as to the four neighboring islands, the Tristan Settlement and the island’s top, Queen Mary’s Peak.
Its most noteworthy event was its near demise when a volcanic eruption destroyed the island in 1961. All of the residents escaped then returned two years later to rebuild their homes. The event is even commemorated in Tristan de Cunha’s postal stamp.

The stamp in remembrance of the 1961 volcano eruption.

The stamp in remembrance of the 1961 volcano eruption.

Interestingly enough, Tristan is considered a lover’s paradise (it is nicknamed “The Love Island”). In the summertime at Queen Mary’s Peak, the summit crater thaws into a heart-shaped lake.

It is said that the islanders often return there to be married. The residents of Tristan were known to be shy. So, the way they’d show affection was toward the pastime of knitting “Love Socks”. If a man was interested in a woman, he would bring a gift and sit with her family. In return, she would knit him a pair of socks. The stripes on the socks would gauge how much she’d like the guy. Two large stripes were akin to “Yeah, you’re cute,” and two large stripes plus six small stripes were “I sooo want to get with you!” Love Socks and other interesting items are sold in the island’s souvenir shop.

The Summit Crater Tristan da Cunha Government and the Tristan da Cunha Association

The Summit Crater
Tristan da Cunha Government and the Tristan da Cunha Association

Want to find out more about this out-of-world place? Visit Trinstandc.com. If that’s not your cup of tea, well… it’s better than this remote island.

P.S. My good friend Chris Miller shares many tidbits of the interesting on his blog, The Lonely Typewriter. Check it out!

WEEK 4
Last Week: 8-8
Season: 26-22
“Same as before… stinking up the joint!”
PICKS ARE IN BOLD.
(BYES: ARIZONA, CINCINNATI, CLEVELAND, DENVER, SEATTLE, ST. LOUIS)

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
N.Y. GIANTS AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS — 8:25 p.m.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 28
CAROLINA PANTHERS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS — 1:00 p.m.
GREEN BAY PACKERS AT CHICAGO BEARS — 1:00 p.m.
BUFFALO BILLS AT HOUSTON TEXANS — 1:00 p.m.
TENNESSEE TITANS AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS — 1:00 p.m.
ATLANTA FALCONS AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS — 1:00 p.m.
DETROIT LIONS AT N.Y. JETS — 1:00 p.m.
MIAMI DOLPHINS AT OAKLAND RAIDERS (LONDON) — 1:00 p.m.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS — 1:00 p.m.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS — 4:05 p.m.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS — 4:25 p.m.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AT DALLAS COWBOYS — 8:30 p.m.

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 29
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS — 8:30 p.m.

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We All Love Election Day

This is a musing from November 2010 about the results from the midterm elections.

We all love Election Day.

It’s the only time we can ACTUALLY keep score. The only day politics is a sport. There’s a running tally and a final score with all the analysis you can handle. At the end of the day, conservatives are taking their victory lap just as liberals did two years prior.

Today, conservatives will dream of long dominance and fantasize about limited government unless you’re a gay man or pregnant woman; or spending cuts unless we’re going to war and giving a tax cut to the richest two percent of our population.

Whether you think the aforementioned paragraph was off base or not, we both can agree the next 24 months will be interesting indeed. There is still a Democratic president and Senate that will have to work with a Republican House that has to show and prove with its new Tea Party-backed members.

A lot of the tea party principles will face major tests in the first two months of the new session; raising the debt ceiling, an actual attempt to bring a repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act to floor to name a few. At that point – if we are still paying attention – we will know who is real and who is fake.

Nonetheless, I’m excited because I get a daily diet of politics. But I’m in a very thin minority of the country. The rest of the country is wondering why Bristol Palin is nearing the semifinals of Dancing with the Stars and patiently waiting for American Idol in January. If they’re not paying attention (and unemployed or underemployed as well), they’d probably wondered why Obama didn’t make all the bad things go away yet.

For them, this is not so much a game as it is another reality show. Yesterday, that person just noticed everything we’d been talking about for the last 18 months and decided to punish whomever was in charge. Then, he and she “voted Boccieri and Strickland off the island.”

Yes, conservatives are running wild chanting “We Won,” but there was never a “we” or a “them” to begin with. The problem with that fallacy is it’s only “we” vs. “them” until we become “them.” And we are all one catastrophic event away from being a “them.”

That’s the difference between politics and sports. There is a zero sum winner and a loser in sports. And us fans go about our lives afterward. In politics, we have this one day that we can get into the game. But there are no winners and losers, just consequences. And sadly, today is the day after and it’s not a game. This is real life.