A very long time ago I was a fan of the comic strip Terry and the Pirates. It was a wonderful piece of escapism with a swashbuckling hero traveling through exotic lands and surviving incredible adventures. The lure of faraway places with strange sounding names triggered something in my adolescent brain, and a nascent bucket list was born. I too would someday trudge the markets of old Rangoon, hike the temples of mysterious Mandalay and stroll moonlit tropical beaches.
Bucket lists are funny things: ever-growing, they tend to morph over time, as tastes and circumstances and resources change. For myself, common sense has pretty well ruled out an ascent of the Matterhorn or a solo crossing of the Spearhead Traverse, and my financial advisor has strongly suggested that if I wish to eat at least a couple of meals a day in retirement I should abandon any idea of a submarine ride to the Titanic, or space tourism in general.
I confess to feeling a bit wistful as I stare down yet another birthday and the realization dawns that I may be running out of runway to make it to the bottom of a very long and ever-growing bucket list, but also chagrined, as I have just learned that my list has unexpectedly amended itself
Last week the venerable old mail ship the RMS St. Helena (one of only two Royal Mail ships remaining in the entire world), which has for decades been the only link to the isolated island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic, embarked upon its final voyage and I have never had the opportunity to walk its decks.
A voyage to the island has long been on my list, since it is reputedly stunning, is steeped in history, having been once Napoleon’s residence in exile, but moreover has had the cachet of inaccessibility. I once investigated the possibility of sailing there aboard a square rigger, but abandoned the idea after learning that it would have set me back over 50 grand and a year of my time, and I’d have to scramble up the rat lines to reef sails in all weather; so the mail ship was my only other option.
Alas the island has now installed an airport, destroying not only the mystique of sea-only access, but also the viability of the mail ship, which is being retired from service and sold.
Is an island now accessible to any tourist with a plane ticket worthy of a spot on the list? Thinning hair and creaking joints suggest a bit of bucket list triage is in order, so I am afraid St. Helena no longer makes the cut, which is a shame- it’s not the way one should remove items from the list. A big black “completed” check mark is hardly preferred.
Speaking of which is anyone out there up for a wee jaunt up Mount Kilimanjaro?