Friday, September 2, 2016

Inaccessible Island

We just started off talking about birds.  Loons specifically.  They are odd critters.  For one thing they can't really stand on dry land and so spend their entire lives afloat other than brief stints sitting on nests right next to the water.

That led to albatrosses.  Doesn't it always?  I wondered how long they could stay up in the air. A very long time it seems.  Then I surmised that they had to come down once in a great while.  I figured they probably had nests on some really remote and inaccessible islands in the South Atlantic.

And when I actually checked Wikipedia I found that one of the places they nest, in the South Atlantic naturally, is called Inaccessible Island. Really.

Inaccesable Island is five square miles of volcanic rock half way between South America and the southern tip of Africa.  It was first sighted in 1656 but nobody found a way, or perhaps a reason, to land on it until the early 1800s.  It appears to have never been inhabited by humans apart from the years 1871-1873.  A couple of optimistic brothers from Germany decided to set up there and sell food to passing whaling ships. Of course the first rule of real estate is "location, location, location".  You would have thought the name Inaccesable would have been a strong clue.  The brothers Stoltenhoff thought so too after a while and were delighted to be rescued by the Royal Navy.  Since then it has been home only to birds and seals.

Like most odd corners of the world it has quirks.  It is home to the world's smallest flightless bird, the Inaccesable Rail.  Its terrain is so forbidding that various scientific expeditions have had hit or miss success even reaching the interior plateau.  It is in fact so rocky and hostile that pigs and goats that were introduced in the early 1800s have all died out. And goats can live damn near anywhere.

Inaccessible Island is actually a tiny sliver of the British Empire.  It is part of the Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.  That last part, Tristan da Cunha refers to the little archepeligo of which Inaccessible is a small rocky part.  

I'd like to visit someday but that is unlikely.  A few supply ships per year visit but there is no passenger service.  You can't get there by air, no landing strip.  

That's really a shame.  I am sure the 300 or so residents of Tristan are delightful people.  Heck, you could probably learn all of their names in a couple of days.  Your British pounds are good there although the opportunities to spend them are limited. 

But there is one option.  The central and I believe chief building in the capitol city of (again, really) Edinburgh of the Seven Seas is an establishment called The Albatross Bar.  Situated as it is between the two churches in town, and with the nearest competing pub 1500 miles away, it has an enviable 4.4 stars out of 5 review status.  

Speaking of envy, this guy got to visit Inaccessible.....

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