Napoléon on Saint Helena Island (part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan de Cuhna)

Jamestown, the capital of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, is also the historic main settlement of Saint Helena Island in a v-shaped valley

Jamestown, the capital of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, is also the historic main settlement of Saint Helena Island in a v-shaped valley on its north-western coast; it is the island’s only port and the center of the island’s road and communications network

 

“Imagine Napoléon’s dismay when he realised he was not being banished to America as he anticipated, but to the remote island of St Helena in the mid-Atlantic instead.  Located 1,200 miles from the nearest landmass off the west coast of Africa, St Helena was the ideal choice for Napoléon’s exile… after all, the last thing the British wanted was a repeat of Elba!

“Napoléon arrived in St Helena on 15th October 1815, after ten weeks at sea on board the HMS Northumberland. William Balcombe, employee of the East India Company and one-time family friend of the French emperor, put Napoléon up at Briars Pavilion when he first arrived on the island.  However a few months later in December 1815, the emperor was moved to nearby Longwood House, a property said to have been particularly cold, uninviting and infested with rats.

“During Napoléon’s time on the island, Sir Hudson Lowe was appointed Governor of St Helena.  Lowe’s main duty was to ensure that he didn’t escape but also to provide supplies for Napoléon and his entourage.  While they only met six times, their relationship is well documented as being tense and acrimonious.  Their main point of contention was that Lowe refused to address Napoléon as Emperor of the French.  However five years later Napoléon finally won Lowe over, and persuaded him to build a new Longwood House.  However he died just before it was completed, after six years in exile on the island.  After World War II the new Longwood House was demolished to make room for a dairy.

 

Napoléon (in exile) landed at the “wharf” in Jamestown, Saint Helena Island, in October 1815, in a small boat dispatched from the HMS Northumberland after ten weeks at sea, Saint H

Napoléon (in exile) landed at the “wharf” in Jamestown, Saint Helena Island, in October 1815, in a small boat dispatched from the HMS Northumberland after ten weeks at sea, Saint Helena Island

 

During the two months waiting for renovations at Longwood House, Napoléon lived in the green valley of the Briars at the “Briars Pavilion” (pictured in the upper left, partially hi

After spending one night in Jamestown in a building that no longer survives, Napoléon visited his future home in exile, The Longwood House, which was ordered to be remodeled to make it suitable for the ex-Emperor – during the interim two months, he lived in the green valley of the Briars at the “Briars Pavilion” (pictured in the upper left, partially hidden by a tall tree), Saint Helena Island

 

A close-up of the Briars Pavilion in the green valley of the Briars, just east of Jamestown, Saint Helena Island

A close-up of the Briars Pavilion in the green valley of the Briars, just east of Jamestown, Saint Helena Island

 

A view of the interior island terrain of Saint Helena Island as we drove up from the Briars valley to the Longwood district where Napoleon lived out the rest of his life in exile at the

A view of the interior island terrain of Saint Helena Island as we drove up from the Briars valley to the Longwood district where Napoleon lived out the rest of his life in exile at the Longwood House

 

Now a museum owned by the French government, Longwood House was the final residence of Napoléon, who lived there during his exile from December 1815 until his death in May 1821, Saint

Now a museum owned by the French government, Longwood House was the final residence of Napoléon, who lived there during his exile from December 1815 until his death in May 1821, Saint Helena Island

 

“Today Longwood House is considered to be the most poignant and atmospheric of all the Napoléonic Museums, as it is preserved with its original furniture from 1821, complemented by over 900 artifacts. Thanks to the island’s Honorary French Consul, Michel Dancoisne-Martineau, with the support of the Fondation Napoléon and over 2000 donators, visitors to Longwood House can now also view an exact replica of the room where Napoléon died on 5th May 1821…

 

Longwood House is surrounded by gardens and offers attractive island views from its location on an elevated plain, Saint Helena Island

Longwood House is surrounded by gardens and offers attractive island views from its location on an elevated plain, Saint Helena Island

 

We had an extensive tour of Longwood House (no photography permitted) where we explored (with an excellent audio guide) Napoléon_s private suite, the dining room, and the billiard ro

We had an extensive tour of Longwood House (no photography permitted) where we explored (with an excellent audio guide) Napoléon’s private suite, the dining room, and the billiard room, where the large billiard table was used for reviewing maps and documents and where Napoléon dictated his memoirs (to three secretaries, simultaneous, rotating from one-to-another with different content), Saint Helena Island

 

Farms and homes on the ridges on Saint Helena Island

Farms and homes on the ridges on Saint Helena Island

 

Napoléon died on 5 May, 1821, and was buried according to his last wishes on 9 May near a source in the Geranium Valley, called the Valley of the Tomb ever since.  A winding footpath leads the visitor to Napoléon ‘s tomb that is surrounded by railings topped by spear-heads.  The tombstone is large and white and bears no inscription. It is surrounded by several trees, among which are 12 cypress trees planted in 1840 in memory of Napoléon ‘s twelve great victories.

 

Although Napoléon_s body is no longer here (it was collected in 1840 and returned to France), the Tombe de Napoléon (the tomb of Napoléon) is a quiet place where visitors go to r

Although Napoléon’s body is no longer here (it was collected in 1840 and returned to France), the Tombe de Napoléon (the tomb of Napoléon) is a quiet place where visitors go to reflect on his life; from the main road a winding 750 yard (686 meters) long footpath leads to the serene spot surrounded by pine trees and shrubs, Saint Helena Island

 

“Napoléon was initially buried at the Sane Valley, his second choice of burial site, until the French were given permission to have his corpse returned to France, nineteen years after his death.  Napoléon’s remains are now buried in Les Invalides in Paris, however visitors to St Helena can visit his empty tomb, which is enclosed with a fence and surrounded by an abundance of flowers and pines.

“The circumstances surrounding Napoléon’s death remain controversial.  There is still speculation as to whether he was poisoned or simply died of boredom.  There is also evidence from an autopsy to suggest that he had ulcers, which affected his liver and intestines.

 

The landscape of Saint Helena Island is quite varied, from the arid and rocky cliffs above the Atlantic Ocean to the fertile interior valleys where New Zealand flax plants (pictured in t

The landscape of Saint Helena Island is quite varied, from the arid and rocky cliffs above the Atlantic Ocean to the fertile interior valleys where New Zealand flax plants (pictured in the foreground) have proliferated profusely (until the mid-20th century, they were harvested for making twine, the primary industry on the remote island)

 

A close-up of some of the cliffs, Saint Helena Island

A close-up of some of the cliffs, Saint Helena Island

 

The historic, Georgian stone Plantation House is the permanent residence of St. Helena_s governor, Saint Helena Island, having been built in 1792 by the East India Company as a country

The historic, Georgian stone Plantation House is the permanent residence of St. Helena’s governor, Saint Helena Island, having been built in 1792 by the East India Company as a country residence for its local general managers

 

“Napoléon’s presence can still be felt today across the island.  The Governor of St Helena’s official residence at Plantation House still retains one of Napoléon’s chandeliers, whilst one of the island’s small hotels, Farm Lodge, claims to have a chaise longue from Longwood House.

 

Several giant tortoises roam the grounds of the Plantation House, including the oldest living inhabitant on Saint Helena Island, Jonathan (age estimated to be around 185 years old!), a S

Several giant tortoises roam the grounds of the Plantation House, including the oldest living inhabitant on Saint Helena Island, Jonathan (age estimated to be around 185 years old!), a Seychelles Giant Tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantean hololissa) – making him the oldest know land vertebrate in the world

 

At the Historic Plantation House we toured the ground floor rooms -- including the dining room (the largest of the house_s 35 rooms), sitting room, library, and other spaces, Saint Hel

At the Historic Plantation House we toured the ground floor rooms — including the dining room (the largest of the house’s 35 rooms), sitting room, library, and other spaces, Saint Helena Island; this is the sitting room

 

The library at the Plantation House has leather-bound volumes dating back to the mid-1700s, Saint Helena Island

The library at the Plantation House has leather-bound volumes dating back to the mid-1700s, Saint Helena Island

 

“Today, all of St Helena’s Napoléonic attractions, including Longwood House, Briars Pavilion and Napoléon’s Tomb, are owned by the French Government.” — /www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofBritain/Napoleons-Exile-on-St-Helena/

 

To celebrate our last night at Saint Helena Island, our expedition team organized a sunset Zodiac cruise and the beverage team visited each group on a Zodiac with glasses of Champagne to

To celebrate our last night at Saint Helena Island, our expedition team organized a sunset Zodiac cruise and the beverage team visited each group on a Zodiac with glasses of Champagne to celebrate the end of a wonderful journey exploring the mid-Atlantic islands

 

Sunset viewed just off Saint Helena Island

Sunset viewed just off Saint Helena Island

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Jamestown, Saint Helena Island (part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan de Cuhna)

Saint Helena Island is a remote volcanic outpost in the South Atlantic Ocean and is considered one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world

Saint Helena Island is a remote volcanic outpost in the South Atlantic Ocean and is considered one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world

 

St. Helena Island (part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan de Cuhna) is a remote volcanic outpost in the South Atlantic Ocean – it’s considered one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world, a volcanic outcrop with an area of only 47 square miles (122 square km).  The island is 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) east of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and 1,210 miles (1,950 kilometers) west of the Atlantic Ocean-front border between Namibia and Angola in southwestern Africa.  The current population numbers only about 4,600, down from a peak of 6,000 a number of years ago.  The island is most well known as the place of Napoléon Bonaparte’s exile in October 1815 and death in May 1821, as commemorated by a now-empty tomb (he is presently interred in the Dôme Les Invalides, Paris).

Less well known, but an important chapter in both the island’s history and the story of the Africa-Americas slave trade of the last few centuries, is quietly told on the island.  In 1840, a British naval station was established to suppress the African slave trade and was based on the island.  Between 1840 and 1849 over 15,000 freed slaves, known as “Liberated Africans”, were landed there.  “Jamestown was chosen to host a vice admiralty court and a naval base for British efforts to interdict the slave traffic between Africa and the Americas.  Captured slave ships were often brought to Jamestown to be sold and their cargos were off-loaded in Rupert’s Valley.  By the time that the naval station was closed in the 1870s, an estimated 25,000 slaves had been rescued… [those that] died shortly after arrival and were buried in Rupert’s Valley.  Long lost, their graves were rediscovered in 2006 in conjunction with preliminary digging for the airport.” – Wikipedia.  From our discussions on the island we heard that he conditions of the slaves’ transport to the island and the conditions of the “refugee camps” was such that it is estimated — from the full skeletal remains found so far of 300 young slaves – that up to 8,000 young slaves may have died on St. Helena, many shortly after arriving in the squalid camps.

St. Helena Island “was uninhabited when discovered by the Portuguese in 1502.  It was an important stopover for ships sailing to Europe from Asia and South Africa for centuries.  Napoléon was imprisoned there in exile by the British, as was Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo  (for leading a Zulu army against British rule) and more than 5,000 Boers taken prisoner during the Second Boer War, including Piet Cronjé.  Saint Helena is Britain’s second-oldest overseas territory after Bermuda” – Wikipedia

 

When Napoleon (in exile) landed at Jamestown, Saint Helena Island, in October 1815, he is said to have climbed these steps at the “wharf” -- the only practicable place for small boat

When Napoléon (in exile) landed at Jamestown, Saint Helena Island, in October 1815, he is said to have climbed these steps at the “wharf” — the only practicable place for small boat landings on the island’s northwestern side at James Bay

 

“Of volcanic origin, St. Helena has much volcanic ash and many conspicuous rock features, but volcanic activity on the island is now extinct.  Perpendicular cliffs rise 1,600 to 2,300 feet (490 to 700 meters) on the eastern, northern, and western sides of the island.  A semicircular rim of mountains north of Sandy Bay includes the island’s two highest points, Diana Peak (2,690 feet [820 meters]) and Mount Actaeon (2,625 feet [800 meters]).  South of the mountains, water-cut gorges are dispersed, becoming deep valleys near the sea.  Springs are numerous.  The only practicable place for ship landings [the “wharf” — a narrow set of concrete steps and a small platform] is on the island’s northwestern side at James Bay, from which a narrow valley extends 1.5 miles (2.4 km) inland. In this valley is nestled the town and port of Jamestown.” — www.britannica.com

 

The view down James Bay to Jamestown, nestled in the valley between two high cliffs on the north-western side of Saint Helena Island

The view down James Bay to Jamestown, nestled in the valley between two high cliffs on the north-western side of Saint Helena Island

 

“Jamestown, the capital of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha… is also the historic main settlement of the island and is on its north-western coast.  It is the island’s only port and the centre of the island’s road and communications network. It was founded when colonists from the English East India Company settled on the island in 1659 and was briefly occupied by the Dutch East India Company  in 1673 before being recaptured.  Many of the buildings built by the East India Company in the 1700s survive and give the town its distinctive Georgian flavor.” — Wikipedia

 

Jacob_s Ladder today is a staircase with 699 steps that rises from Jamestown to Ladder Hill Fort high above; the Ladder was built in 1829 as an inclined plane to help Jamestown h

Jacob’s Ladder today is a staircase with 699 steps that rises from Jamestown to Ladder Hill Fort high above; the “Ladder” was built in 1829 as an inclined plane to help Jamestown haul ammunition up to the post on Ladder Hill, Saint Helena Island

 

Jacob’s Ladder is a staircase that rises from Jamestown to Ladder Hill Fort high above.  It is said to have 699 steps.  The “Ladder” was built in 1829 as an inclined plane to help Jamestown haul ammunition up to the post on Ladder Hill.  Then it was used to bring goods down from the farming areas in the centre of the island, and manure up out of town.  The planes are on either side of the steps, and the cart on one side was used to counterweight the cart on the other.  The Ladder is a prodigious climb at over 900 ft (270 m) long, with a vertical drop of about 600 ft (180 m) and with a slope in places of about 45 degrees and very few tourists can climb it in one go.” — en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Saint_Helena_(island)

 

The entry gate (after the moat) in the town wall built by the English in Jamestown to protect Saint Helena Island from invaders who might want to help the French general and ex-Emperor,

The entry gate (after the moat) in the town wall built by the English in Jamestown to protect Saint Helena Island from invaders who might want to help the French general and ex-Emperor, Napoléon, escape from exile

 

The view from the entry gate in the town wall of Jamestown, Saint Helena Island, with St. James Church in the foreground

The view from the entry gate in the town wall of Jamestown, Saint Helena Island, with St. James Church in the foreground

 

The entrance to the “Castle” that was built by the British in 1659 and serves as the seat of government and contains the Archives and Administration of the island, Jamestown, Saint H

The entrance to the “Castle” that was built by the British in 1659 and serves as the seat of government and contains the Archives and Administration of the island, Jamestown, Saint Helena Island; the heavily worn bronze plaque on the wall notes that it was placed “In Commemoration of the 300th anniversary of Captain John Dutton’s Landing on the 5th of May 1659 from which time St. Helena has been a British possession”

 

St. James Church, just inside the fortifications of Jamestown and across from the Castle, is the oldest Anglican Church in the southern hemisphere, dating from 1774, Jamestown, Saint Hel

St. James Church, just inside the fortifications of Jamestown and across from the Castle, is the oldest Anglican Church in the southern hemisphere, dating from 1774, Jamestown, Saint Helena Island

 

The interior of St. James Church, Jamestown, Saint Helena Island; curiously the Hebrew name for God, “Adonai”, is inscribed just ablve the top of the gold cross on the altar

The interior of St. James Church, Jamestown, Saint Helena Island; curiously the Hebrew name for God, “Adonai”, is inscribed just ablve the top of the gold cross on the altar

 

The old “Gaol” with 15 window-less cells is now labeled “Her Majesty_s Prison” and, sadly, is still in active use, Jamestown, Saint Helena Island; we talked to the jail guards

The old “Gaol” with 15 window-less cells is now labeled “Her Majesty’s Prison” and, sadly, is still in active use, Jamestown, Saint Helena Island; we talked to the jail guards who confirmed that several prisoners were being held inside

 

Chad_s Shop on the main street in Jamestown, Saint Helena Island – claiming to be a one-stop shop for just about anything a tourist might want

Chad’s Shop on the main street in Jamestown, Saint Helena Island – claiming to be a one-stop shop for just about anything a tourist might want

 

Note the statue of Napoleon on the upper balcony at the Consulate Hotel on the main street in Jamestown, Saint Helena Island

Note the statue of Napoléon on the upper balcony at the Consulate Hotel on the main street in Jamestown, Saint Helena Island

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Georgetown, Ascension Island (part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan de Cuhna)

Named and dedicated to King George III of Britain and Ireland, Georgetown is the capital and chief settlement of Ascension Island, in the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Asce

Named and dedicated to King George III of Britain and Ireland, Georgetown is the capital and chief settlement of Ascension Island, in the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, situated on the west coast of the island

 

Georgetown is the capital and chief settlement of Ascension Island, in the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, situated on the west coast of the island.   The name Georgetown is dedicated to King George III, a Britain and Ireland king during eighteenth and nineteenth century.  The town was first inhabited in 1815, founded by Royal Navy. In the Fort Hayes museum, we learned a lot about the strategic importance of the island with respect to worldwide telecommunications in the early twentieth century.

“Positioned in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, just south of the equator between Africa and America, Ascension Island has had (and still has) a very important role in telecommunications, working as a kind of “bridge” between African and American continents.  From 1899, the first underwater telegraph cable laid by Cable & Wireless between Africa, America and Europe, passed through Ascension Island, an ideal place to install repeaters and to coordinate maintenance, because of the half-way position in the ocean.” —  http://www.travel-tour-guide.com/ascension_island/01_georgetown.htm

 

A small park in the center of Georgetown, Ascension Island, marks the bicentennial of the founding of the city in 1815

A small park in the center of Georgetown, Ascension Island, marks the bicentennial of the founding of the city in 1815

 

Georgetown, Ascension Island is centered on St. Mary_s Church (an Anglican Church)

Georgetown, Ascension Island is centered on St. Mary’s Church (an Anglican Church)

 

The vicarage is located on the small hill in the center of Georgetown, Ascension Island, directly across from St. Mary_s Church

The vicarage is located on the small hill in the center of Georgetown, Ascension Island, directly across from St. Mary’s Church

 

St George's Water Tank, which stores water channeled into Georgetown from the top of Green Mountain, dates to the period of early construction beginning in 1830; note our ship, on the fa

St George’s Water Tank, which stores water channeled into Georgetown from the top of Green Mountain, dates to the period of early construction beginning in 1830; note our ship, on the far right, anchored just offshore, Ascension Island

 

The garrison, known as The Old Barracks, was built according to the standard British Army overseas barracks plan with the approved substitution of stone arches instead of metal pillars t

The garrison, known as The Old Barracks, was built according to the standard British Army overseas barracks plan with the approved substitution of stone arches instead of metal pillars to support the roof (due to the lack of metal on the island and the rapid deterioration of metal given the weather on the island), Georgetown, Ascension Island

 

The British Post Office in the cent of Georgetown, Ascension Island, across from the mini-market (where we found refreshing crushed ice smoothies)

The British Post Office in the center of Georgetown, Ascension Island, across from the mini-market (where we found refreshing crushed ice smoothies)

 

The Ascension Island Government Building was originally built as a Petty Officer_s Mess between 1899 and 1903 and has served as the office of the British Administrator, Georgetown, Asc

The Ascension Island Government Building was originally built as a Petty Officer’s Mess between 1899 and 1903 and has served as the office of the British Administrator, Georgetown, Ascension Island

 

Ascension Island Magistrates Court, Georgetown, Ascension Island

Ascension Island Magistrates Court, Georgetown, Ascension Island; we learned that because almost everyone knows everyone else on the island (population 800), there are more magistrates than normal so that a magistrate can be assigned to a case where he/she is not judging friends

 

The Eastern Telegraph Company, direct ancestor of Cable & Wireless, helped transform Georgetown and Ascension Island into a vital communications hub in the late 18th and early 19th centu

The Eastern Telegraph Company, direct ancestor of Cable & Wireless, helped transform Georgetown and Ascension Island into a vital communications hub in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, as can be vividly seen in this poster/map (courtesy the Ascension Island Heritage Society Museum)

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Boatswainbird Island, Ascension Island (part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan de Cuhna)

Boatswain Bird Island, just off the east coast of Ascension in the South Atlantic Ocean is a nature reserve and offers great opportunities for bird lovers

Boatswainbird Island, just off the east coast of Ascension in the South Atlantic Ocean is a nature reserve and offers great opportunities for bird lovers

 

Our first activity at Ascension Island was snorkeling in the very clear waters around Boatswainbird Island.  Boatswainbird Island, just off the east coast of Ascension in the South Atlantic Ocean [see our previous post, “Ascension Island (part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan de Cuhna)”], is a nature reserve and offers great opportunities for bird lovers.  Besides the endemic Ascension Frigate-bird (Fregata aquila) three species of boobies, two species of tropic birds, two noddy’s and the Fairy Tern breed on this rocky islet.  The area around the island is great for zodiac cruising and snorkeling, with an abundance of fish in the nutrient rich waters — the result of the large amounts of guano (the accumulated excrement of seabirds) dropped into the ocean from the thousands of birds on the island.  “The island is the home of the majority of Ascension’s birds due to rats (accidentally introduced by passing ships) and then cats (introduced to catch the rats, as well as pets) eating the birds and their eggs on Ascension.  Since the mid-1990s there has been a feral cat eradication program, alongside a rat eradication program, to encourage the birds back to the main island.“ — Wikipedia

 

Birds are nesting all over the rock surface of Boatswain Island, Ascension Island

Birds are nesting all over the rock surface of Boatswainbird Island, Ascension Island

 

As we motored around Boatswain Island, Ascension Island, in our Zodiac inflatable boat, we were surrounded by large numbers of birds flying onto and from the island

As we motored around Boatswainbird Island, Ascension Island, in our Zodiac inflatable boat, we were surrounded by large numbers of birds flying onto and from the island

 

A close up of some of the birds on Boatswain Island, Ascension Island

A close up of some of the birds on Boatswainbird Island, Ascension Island

 

Our ship was anchored just off Ascension Island, behind the arch on Boatswain Island

Our ship was anchored just off Ascension Island, behind the arch on Boatswainbird Island

 

Hundreds of birds flying over Boatswain Island, Ascension Island

Hundreds of birds flying over Boatswainbird Island, Ascension Island

 

Rock formations serving as nesting grounds, Boatswain Island, Ascension Island

Rock formations serving as nesting grounds, Boatswainbird Island, Ascension Island

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Ascension Island (part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan de Cuhna)

Ascension Island, located in the South Atlantic Ocean (between the coasts of Brazil and Africa) is a geologically young formation, the tip of an undersea volcano that rose above the wave

Ascension Island, located in the South Atlantic Ocean (between the coasts of Brazil and Africa) is a geologically young formation, the tip of an undersea volcano that rose above the waves only a million years ago

 

Ascension Island (part of the three island British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan de Cunha) lies some 470 nautical miles south of the equator, halfway between the horn of South America and Africa (2,250 kilometers (1,400 miles) from the coast of Brazil and 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) from the coast of Africa).  Ascension is a geologically young formation, the tip of an undersea volcano that rose above the waves only a million years ago.  The island is named after the day of its recorded discovery, Ascension Day.  First discovered by Portuguese sailors in 1501, the island was forgotten, then re-discovered in 1503 by the Portuguese navigator Afonso de Albuquerque.  Claimed shortly thereafter by the British, it was visited by Charles Darwin.  After the first underwater cable was installed in 1899 connecting to South Africa, Ascension Island became an Atlantic communications hub.  The population is presently around 800 people (mostly from St. Helena Island) and there has never been an indigenous population on the island.

 

A map provided by our expedition team showing our route sailing south from Dakar, Senegal, on the western tip of the African continent, to Ascension Island in the middle of the South Atl

A map, provided by our expedition team, showing our route sailing south from Dakar, Senegal, on the western tip of the African continent, to Ascension Island in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean

 

The view of the island_s principal small town, Georgetown, from the Zodiac landing site (also the spot where cargo ships unload their cargo by small boats), Ascension Island; the steep

The view of the island’s principal small town and capital, Georgetown (named after the British monarch) from the Zodiac landing site (also the spot where cargo ships unload their cargo by small boats), Ascension Island; the steeple of the Anglican Church is barely visible in front of one of the reddish volcano cones

 

During World War II, U.S. Army engineers built an airfield on the island to transport warplanes from the Americas to North African and European theaters of war.  After the war, it was enlarged and designated an emergency landing site for the American Space Shuttle.  During the Falklands War, the British Royal Air Force based a fleet of long-range Vulcan bombers at Ascension, briefly making it the busiest airfield in the world.  Ascension Island hosts one of four ground antennas (others are on Kwajalen Island, Diego Garcia and Cape Canaveral, Florida) that assist in the operation of the Global Positioning System (GPS) navigational system.

 

Turtles were very important in the early history and settlement of Ascension Island and are prominent in the island government_s coat-of-arms

Turtles were very important in the early history and settlement of Ascension Island and are prominent in the island government’s coat-of-arms

 

This beach, just to the west of Georgetown on the western coast of Ascension Island, is the site of the annual return of thousands of Brazilian green turtles who come ashore and bury the

This beach, just to the west of Georgetown on the western coast of Ascension Island, is the site of the annual return of thousands of Brazilian green turtles who come ashore and bury their eggs from December to May

 

Today, the island charms those with an adventurous spirit.  Outside of the military airstrip, anyone visiting the island arrives by sea.  There are no piers, so wet landings are made on the shore by small boat (we use 20-foot (6-meter) inflatable Zodiac boats).  Those hearty sailors making the long journey to the island can watch nesting sooty terns, black noddy, and the Ascension frigatebird on one of the Atlantic’s most important seabird breeding sites, Boatswainbird Island (just off the southeast coast of Ascension Island).  Visitors can also hike trails through prickly pear and acacia trees in Green Mountain National Park that open into sweeping views over the sea.  Indoors, visitors can peruse artifacts and photographs at the Heritage Society Museum in Georgetown (the capital city) and explore the preserved grounds of Fort Hayes.

 

The satellite tracking and communications infrastructure (the “golf ball”) visible on the summit of South Gannet Hill forms part of the United States Air Force Eastern Range instrume

The satellite tracking and communications infrastructure (the “golf ball”) visible on the summit of South Gannet Hill forms part of the United States Air Force Eastern Range instrumentation, Ascension Island

 

On our tour of the island by some of the local government employees (also the vehicle drivers for us), we stopped at the Mars Bay Nature Reserve, home to a large colony of noisy sooty te

On our tour of the island by some of the local government employees (also the vehicle drivers for us), we stopped at the Mars Bay Nature Reserve, home to a large colony of noisy sooty tern and the endemic plant, the Ascension spurge, Ascension Island

 

The area we visited is named Mars Bay, not for the dark red earth above the site which resembles the red planet, but for a scientific expedition carried out on the site in 1877 to mark t

The area we visited is named Mars Bay, not for the dark red earth above the site which resembles the red planet, but for a scientific expedition carried out on the site in 1877 to mark the planet Mars’ position in the night sky and then use that to measure the distance between the Earth and Sun, Ascension Island

 

On of the hundreds of sooty terns flying around water_s edge at Mars Bay Nature Reserve, Ascension Island

One of the hundreds of sooty terns flying around water’s edge at Mars Bay Nature Reserve, Ascension Island

 

The USAF runway on Ascension Island that is a backup landing site for the US space shuttles with a large collection of USAF-NASA antennae on the plateau in the distance

The USAF runway on Ascension Island that is a backup landing site for the US space shuttles with a large collection of USAF/NASA antennae on the plateau in the distance

 

Land crabs are Ascension Island_s only large, native land animal and are one of the island_s most iconic inhabitants; they only live on four, small South Atlantic islands and are omn

Land crabs are Ascension Island’s only large, native land animal and are one of the island’s most iconic inhabitants; they only live on four, small South Atlantic islands and are omnivores, eating both plants and animals

 

“The largest native land animal is the land crab Johngarthia logostoma (formerly Gecarcinus lagostoma).  Offshore, there is a variety of open-ocean fish, including sharks, wahoo, tuna, bonito, barracuda, marlin, blackfish and sailfish.  The protected green turtle is perhaps the most notable of the endemic fauna, coming ashore to lay their eggs on the beaches from [December] to May.  Turtles were regularly harvested until 1930, when the practice was banned. By 1970 the turtle population had begun to rebound.  From the 1970s, when records began, to 2014, green turtle nesting increased by 500%, resulting in some 24,000 nests being laid on the island’s main beaches each year.” – Wikipedia

 

The top of the highest mountain, Green Mountain, was planted with over 300 non-native species of plants selected by gardeners from England_s Kew Gardens and Charles Darwin in order to

The top of the highest mountain, Green Mountain, was planted with over 300 non-native species of plants selected by gardeners from England’s Kew Gardens and Charles Darwin in order to induce rain clouds to form and bring much needed water to the mountaintop, Ascension Island; this home was the residence of the mountain farm’s supervisor

 

Several shade houses at the top of Green Mountain are managed by the Ascension Island Government_s Conservation Centre and serve as a treasury to save and preserve six of the island_

Several shade houses at the top of Green Mountain are managed by the Ascension Island Government’s Conservation Centre and serve as a treasury to save and preserve six of the island’s indigenous and critically endangered endemic species from extinction

 

Tucked behind some of Ascension Island_s volcano cones, visible from Green Mountain, is one of several residential neighborhoods that are separate from the main town and capital, Georg

Tucked behind some of Ascension Island’s volcano cones, visible from Green Mountain, is one of several residential neighborhoods that are separate from the main town and capital, Georgetown, Ascension Island

 

The military (both Britain_s RAF and the American USAF) have golf ball communications structures all around Ascension Island; this one is just beyond the green turtle nesting beach see

The military (both Britain’s RAF and the American USAF) have golf ball communications structures all around Ascension Island; this one is just beyond the green turtle nesting beach seen above

 

Fort Bedford, the newest of the three forts on Ascension Island, was created between 1903 and 1906; the 5.5 inch gun pictured (one of two) was placed there at the beginning of World War

Fort Bedford, the newest of the three forts on Ascension Island, was created between 1903 and 1906; the 5.5 inch gun pictured (one of two) was placed there at the beginning of World War II, having been removed from Britain’s HMS Hood

 

This view of the terrain at the center of Ascension Island reminded some of us of the inside of the crater of Haleakala on Maui and others felt that it might be the surface of planet Mar

This view of the terrain at the center of Ascension Island reminded some of us of the inside of the crater of Haleakala on Maui and others felt that it might be the surface of planet Mars

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Locals, Dakar, Senegal

Local school girls on a mid-day break near the Cathédrale Notre Dame des Victoires (Our Lady of Victories Cathedral), the Roman Catholic cathedral in Dakar, Senegal

Local school girls on a mid-day break near the Cathédrale Notre Dame des Victoires (Our Lady of Victories Cathedral), the Roman Catholic cathedral in Dakar, Senegal; note that a few years ago the government mandated all school children in public schools wear uniforms

 

Our previous blog introduced Dakar, the capital city of Senegal, on the western coast of Africa on the Atlantic Ocean.  As we toured the city we had the opportunity to see life on the streets, shops, bars and the beaches.  The photographs in this blog post are a sample of the locals we saw and met along the way.  Unfortunately, when we visited the United States Embassy in Dakar – one of the newest and largest American embassies in Africa – their security policy prohibits any photographs (of the building, grounds and people). We met some outstanding people there (Americans serving overseas and local Senegalese) in a two-hour debriefing by many department heads. We also attended a dinner aboard our ship where the Residents hosted the U. S. Ambassador to Senegal and the Gambian Ambassador to Senegal, learning a lot about both their countries and Western Africa (no photos) as well as hearing about the positive international relations with and constructive support of these West African countries by the United States and other major countries.

 

Relaxing on a beach on the Atlantic Ocean in Dakar, Senegal, near the westernmost tip of Africa

Relaxing on a beach on the Atlantic Ocean in Dakar, Senegal, near the westernmost tip of Africa

 

Local fishermen in the water and on their boat in front of a restaurant at the westernmost tip of Senegal and the African continent, Dakar, Senegal

Local fishermen in the water and on their boat in front of a restaurant at the westernmost tip of Senegal and the African continent, Dakar, Senegal

 

We stopped by an artists_ studio and gallery in Dakar, Senegal, where we learned about the local sand painting; this artist is holding the painting he created while he explained the se

We stopped by an artists’ studio and gallery in Dakar, Senegal, where we learned about the local sand painting; this artist is holding the painting he created while he explained the sequential glue painting and drizzled sand technique

 

Finished sand paintings for sale in Dakar, Senegal

Finished sand paintings for sale at the artists’ studio and gallery in Dakar, Senegal

 

The bar at the artists_ studio and gallery, Dakar, Senegal

The bar at the artists’ studio and gallery, Dakar, Senegal

 

An art poster promoting the Marché Soumbédioune (Soumbédioune market) in Dakar, Senegal, located along the Soumbédioune beach, where visitors can peruse kiosks for African textil

An art poster promoting the Marché Soumbédioune (Soumbédioune market) in Dakar, Senegal, located along the Soumbédioune beach, where visitors can peruse kiosks for African textiles, paintings, masks, and a wide range of handmade souvenirs

 

A brightly painted local jitney providing transportation around Dakar, Senegal

A brightly painted local jitney providing transportation around Dakar, Senegal

 

Young men selling fresh fish on Soumbédioune beach, offloaded from the fishing boats that had just come ashore (in the background), Dakar, Senegal

Young men selling fresh fish on Soumbédioune beach, offloaded from the fishing boats that had just come ashore (in the background), Dakar, Senegal

 

Fishing boats on Soumbédioune beach, Dakar, Senegal

Fishing boats on Soumbédioune beach, Dakar, Senegal

 

A close up of a fishing boat on Soumbédioune beach, Dakar, Senegal

A close up of a fishing boat on Soumbédioune beach, Dakar, Senegal

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Dakar, Senegal

The Assemblee Nationale (National Assembly) of Dakar, the capital of Senegal, in West Africa, located on the Atlantic Ocean at the westernmost point of the continent of Africa

The Assemblee Nationale (National Assembly) of Dakar, the capital of Senegal, in West Africa, located on the Atlantic Ocean at the westernmost point of the continent of Africa

 

Dakar, the capital of Senegal, in West Africa, is located on the Atlantic Ocean at the westernmost point of the continent of Africa.  Its traditional Médina quarter is home to the Grande Mosquée, marked by a towering minaret.  The Musée Théodore Monod displays cultural artifacts including clothing, drums, carvings and tools.  The city’s vibrant nightlife is inspired by the local mbalax music which Youssou N’Dour, a popular local singer, helped develop.  Youssou N’Dour is a Senegalese singer, songwriter, composer, occasional actor, businessman, and politician.  In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine described Youssou N’Dour as, “perhaps the most famous singer alive” in Senegal and much of Africa.  From April 2012 to September 2013, he was Senegal’s Minister of Culture, then Minister of Tourism.  On the ship we enjoyed watching the movie “I Bring What I Love” that tells part of his life story, particularly the creation of his “Egypt” album of songs, reflections on his practice of Sufi Islam and his work to promote a more tolerant view of Islam.

 

Dakar, Senegal, is the westernmost point of Africa, seen on this map just to the right of the yellow square boxes containing camera icons (the map is courtesy of the ship_s expedition

Dakar, Senegal, is the westernmost point of Africa, seen on this map just to the right of the yellow square boxes containing camera icons (the map is courtesy of the ship’s expedition team)

 

From our lecturers on board and our local guides we learned that Senegal is about 94% Muslim (mostly followers of Sufi Islam, sometimes referred to as “Islamic mysticism”) and 5% Christian (predominantly Roman Catholic, tracing back to the French colonial period).  The population’s Sufi Islam beliefs have contributed to the unusual political stability of the country, as there has been much tolerance and no religious fighting.

“Dakar was originally settled by the Lebou people.  In the 14th century, when part of the Wolof Empire, it became a centre for the Portugese and Dutch slave trade.  In 1840 Senegal became a French possession, and remained one for the following century.  This period – during which Dakar was called ‘the Paris of Africa’ had a major influence on the city’s culture; French remains the only official language.

“Since Senegal’s independence from France in 1940, Dakar has enjoyed the stability created by an unusually strong democratic tradition.  Its first President, Léopold Sédar Senghor, was an poet and leading intellectual, one of the founders of the philosophy of négritude.  His dedication to culture – and to making Dakar the cultural capital of Africa – was so strong that he directed 25% of the national budget to the Ministry of Culture.  Senghor’s influence has helped to make Dakar a cosmopolitan and culturally rich city.

“Today Dakar has a population of just under 2.5 million people.  It continues to grow rapidly, both due to migration from rural areas and high birth rates among residents.  High levels of migration poses challenges for the city, as does a ‘brain drain’ of more educated residents moving abroad.” — http://www.worldcitiescultureforum.com/cities/dakar

 

Ministère de l_Intérieur (the Ministry of the Interior) building in downtown Dakar, Senegal

Ministère de l’Intérieur (the Ministry of the Interior) building in downtown Dakar, Senegal

 

Cathédrale Notre Dame des Victoires (Our Lady of Victories Cathedral), the Roman Catholic cathedral in Dakar, Senegal, was consecrated in 1936

Cathédrale Notre Dame des Victoires (Our Lady of Victories Cathedral), the Roman Catholic cathedral in Dakar, Senegal, was consecrated in 1936

 

The interior of Cathédrale Notre Dame des Victoires (Our Lady of Victories Cathedral), the Roman Catholic cathedral in Dakar, Senegal

The interior of Cathédrale Notre Dame des Victoires (Our Lady of Victories Cathedral), the Roman Catholic cathedral in Dakar, Senegal

 

Université Cheikh Anta Diop or UCAD (Cheikh Anta Diop University), also known as the University of Dakar, traces its history back to a French school in 1918; at independence in 1960 th

Université Cheikh Anta Diop or UCAD (Cheikh Anta Diop University), also known as the University of Dakar, traces its history back to a French school in 1918; at independence in 1960 the enrollment was 1,000 and now, after much expansion, the university enrollment is well over 60,000 students and it maintains a reputation as one of Africa’s most prestigious universities

 

Notice the shepherd with a flock of sheep walking on the sidewalk into the suburbs of Dakar, Senegal, in front of Grande Mosquée de Dakar (Grand Mosque of Dakar)

Notice the shepherd with a flock of sheep walking on the sidewalk up and into the suburbs of Dakar, Senegal, in front of Grande Mosquée de Dakar (Grand Mosque of Dakar)

 

Walking down the stairway from the road to the Grande Mosquée de Dakar (Grand Mosque of Dakar), Dakar, Senegal

Walking down the stairway from the road to the Grande Mosquée de Dakar (Grand Mosque of Dakar), Dakar, Senegal

 

Grande Mosquée de Dakar (Grand Mosque of Dakar), one of the most important religious buildings in Senegal, was designed by French and Moroccan architects

Grande Mosquée de Dakar (Grand Mosque of Dakar), one of the most important religious buildings in Senegal, was designed by French and Moroccan architects (it bears a slight resemblance to the Mosquée Mohammed V in Casablanca) and was opened in 1964 by Hassan II, King of Morocco and Senegalese President Léopold Sédar Senghor

 

We could not get an explanation or name for the art installation directly in front of the massive Monument de la Renaissance Africaine (African Renaissance Monument) – see the next pho

We could not get an explanation or name for the art installation directly in front of the massive Monument de la Renaissance Africaine (African Renaissance Monument) – see the next photo, below — Dakar, Senegal; to us it looks like soldiers with guns on the march

 

The massive copper Monument de la Renaissance Africaine (African Renaissance Monument), Africa_s tallest (and somewhat controversial) statue, showcases a man, woman, and child pointing

The massive copper Monument de la Renaissance Africaine (African Renaissance Monument), Africa’s tallest (and somewhat controversial) statue, showcases a man, woman, and child pointing towards the ocean, Dakar, Senegal; the red, black, white and green carpet flag was installed for the one day celebration during our visit at the Monument of “Spirit of the Union National Day” of the UAE (United Arab Emirates)

 

Monument de la Renaissance Africaine (African Renaissance Monument), 49 meters (161 feet) tall, was built in 2010 to commemorate 50 years of independence from France -- as a symbol of bo

Monument de la Renaissance Africaine (African Renaissance Monument), 49 meters (161 feet) tall, was built in 2010 to commemorate 50 years of independence from France — as a symbol of both defiance and prosperity, Dakar, Senegal

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.