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A news story published on the Tristan da Cunha website on December 23 has all the attributes of a nice yarn for the holiday season. It is an account by an Israeli man who won a contest and earned his dream: visiting the world’s most remote inhabited island. His narrative of his visit is a tribute to the Tristan Islanders.

The Settlement and the relatively level area it is on are dwarfed by the mountainous island of Tristan da Cunha

The Settlement and the relatively level area it is on are dwarfed by the mountainous island of Tristan da Cunha (Photo from the CTBTO Preparatory Commission on Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Gan Erez, from Tel Aviv, Israel, writes that he happened to spot Tristan on a map around seven years ago and started reading and watching everything he could find about the place. Then, about 18 months ago, he saw an advertisement for a contest sponsored by an Israeli travel company inviting people to submit entries about special, but largely unknown, dream locations. Gan prepared an entry about Tristan and, when he won first-place, he received an all-expenses-paid trip to the island.

He completed all the formalities and left Cape Town on the ship Edinburgh on September 12, 2018. After seven days at sea, he arrived at Tristan and was welcomed into the home of his hosts, Cliff and Lillie Swain. He writes enthusiastically about their indulgent care for their visitor, their cooking, and the way they made him feel completely at home.

The Potato Patches is a favorite destination of the Tristan Islanders

The Potato Patches is a favorite destination for the Tristan Islanders (Photo by Brian Gratwicke on Flickr, Creative Commons license)

He spent 16 days visiting the local sites—the 1961 volcano, the Pigbite, and the neighboring island of Nightingale, where he had close encounters with some yellow-nosed albatrosses, seals, and penguins. He helped the Swain family plant some potatoes at the Potato Patches.

He brought along a brand new metal detector. He clearly is an expert at using the device and he proudly gave to the museum on the island his findings, such things as a brass peg from a boat, two-hundred-year-old nails, and a jar lid dating from about 1850. He took the younger kids from the school out into the fields to use the metal detector and search for coins he had hidden in the grass. He gave a presentation about his country to the older school children.

The Tristan Islanders worked together to gather and burn harmful invasive plants, serving as a beacon to celebrate the Queen’s diamond jubilee, June 4, 2012

The Tristan Islanders worked together to gather and burn harmful invasive plants, which served as a beacon to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, June 4, 2012

He appeared to feel honored serving as an informal ambassador from his country to Tristan—he writes that he was the first Israeli on record as having visited Tristan da Cunha. Since returning home he has appeared on an Israeli TV show, given a presentation about his trip, and he is planning several more events. His article in the Tristan website includes numerous photos of his activities on the island.

His conclusion is very hopeful about what he feels is the “good of mankind” as exemplified by the isolated Tristan community. “The people of Tristan were the kindest and friendliest people you could ever meet in your life. Absolutely wonderful people with a very warm and loving heart and I enjoyed meeting them so much …” he writes in his tribute to them.