14.01.2009 - 20.01.2009 30 °C
By now, I really should be used to it. And in a way I am, but I can never quite get used to just how small the world really is, and how many odd coincidences and meetings occur, almost entirely at random. Over the years i have got used to bumping into old friends or people I know, or people that know somebody I do (and in a short conversation actually realise it) or have some link or something canily in common. In fact, in regular wanderings mostly in Europe if i don't bump into somebody every 3 or 4weeks it's actually unusual.
Some of my favourite such moments including walking into a hostel in an obscure Turkish town after missing a connection and discovering that I knew every other guest in the hostel (whilst none of them knew any of the others), *that* incident in Tajikistan and being told stories by an unknown Aussie at the end of my last trip which were all about me without him realising.
But St. Helena? surely, I figured I should be reasonably safe.
And then things started going slightly strange. Two days before I got on the boat, the car I was in broke down. After being picked up by the repair man and going through the normal small talk, I discovered that his normal work partner is from St. Helena. Well, i thought, at least somebody has heard of St. Helena.
Then on the boat trip down here, i then discovered 3 cousins on the ship (none of whom i'd previously heard of). But, they were all Saints and the ship being the Islands life line, that's no big deal. Then a few days later I was talking to a fascinating Saint–British couple, and within literally 5minutes we had discovered that they have good friends in Kristianstad - the small and fairly obscure town in Sweden that I live in - who I know slightly. But these things happen.
After i'd been on St. Helena for a month or so, i received an email out of the blue from some woman in Istanbul that i've never heard of. “I hear you are on St. Helena” she says. “I'm trying to track a friend of mine who works there. Can you see if you can find her for me?”. Never one to turn down odd little challenges, I found the friend and passed on the email address, to huge joy and surprise. And only a few days ago, using the new option for people to comment on blogs without being TP members, I got a message from a Saint who had somehow come across one of my recent blog entries and wanted to say thanks. I have since discovered that she is very good friends with one of my cousins here. But even that is nothing, really. Just a few bored people using a computer and getting lucky.
The one that really got me was last month. Walking back home from the harbour after seeing some friends off onto the boat, I was hailed from the balcony of the Consulate, the islands main hotel. With a mixture of surprise, confusion, dread and indeed amusement, I discovered one of my customers grinning down at me. Just off the boat that morning and on holiday with a friend. I must have dropped a crate of mirrors somewhere in a previous life! I honestly doubt if any other non-Saint that I know will ever visit here in their entire life, and yet here on an Island which receives less than 1000 tourists a year (excluding Cruise ships and yachts) and due to the shipping schedules a maximum of maybe 200 of whom will be here during my stay – I somehow still manage to co-ordinate my stay to the one time that somebody I know (and a customer as well: I'm on holiday/St. Helena to try and hide from work!) happens to also be here.
Ian Baker, a geologist and author who has been visiting St. Helena for over 40years and came down on the ship down when i did, explains some of the Geology of the Sandy Bay area to my real-world customer David (left) and his friend Neil
Sigh. You just know that there has to be a Kiki twist to this story, don't you?