More Than Just Napoleon

In some ways, St Helena seems a lot like other islands I’ve visited: cinderblock homes, lush greenery along potholed roads, and a limited selection in the grocery store, but this place has surprised me.  With just three Napoleonic sites and nine days to spend, I thought I’d be reading novels, reorganizing my laptop filing system, and watching movies.  Instead, every day, I’m scrambling to fit in all the island has to offer.

Last Friday, for example, was St Helena’s Day, so all the Napoleonic sites and the archive were closed.   Instead, we were treated to a marching band, a governor’s speech, and a light-hearted float parade, as the locals celebrated the 509th anniversary of the discovery of the island and their British heritage.

Then my husband and I climbed up (and back down) the 699 steps of Jacob’s Ladder, a remnant from an 1829 project to haul goods from Jamestown to the fort high above it.  Click on this little photo to see the hair-raising detail.  The St Helena kids slide down the rails.

Over the weekend, we joined some of our fellow travelers on a boat trip along the north side of the island.   Dolphins raced playfully beneath our bow and flying fish skimmed the nearby waters. We also hiked in two areas where Napoleon would have ridden during the first two years of his exile.  (After that, he rarely went beyond Longwood’s boundaries.)

When Monday came around, I got back to work poring through the archives, and tomorrow, our last day in St Helena, I’ll visit Longwood again.



  • Scott
    May 23, 2011 - 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Looks like a great trip so far—Almost time to get back on the ship—-next time I’m going with you

  • Melanie
    May 23, 2011 - 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Dang! Great adventures. Can’t believe your time there is almost done. Poo. Good luck in your remaining endeavors, and for keeping us updated. *Neat* shots.

    (And, oh yeah, I would have been in sooo much trouble from friction-burning the backside of my pants from sliding down the rails if I’d been a kid there! )

  • mrodenberg
    May 24, 2011 - 7:35 am | Permalink

    Yes, the RMS St Helena appeared in Jamestown harbor this morning. Tomorrow we board, arriving in Cape Town on May 30st. And, sure, next time I go to St Helena, you’re definitely invited!

  • mrodenberg
    May 24, 2011 - 7:42 am | Permalink

    I saw a boy stretch himself over the two handrails (face to the sky, ankles on one rail, shoulders on the other) and slide toward his friend standing a dozen stairs below, who ducked down and let the first boy pass over him. Looked like fun, but I don’t recommend it!

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