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Digital Subscriptions > Travel Africa > October-December 16 (76) > Time travel

Time travel

St Helena Island has just completed its first airport. To experience it before the arrival of package tours, Justin Fox boarded one of the world’s last Royal Mail ships in Cape Town for a voyage to the land that time forgot
With its stark volcanic coastline and verdant interior, St Helena is often referred to as an ‘emerald set in bronze’.

We don’t do tickles to fine leg!” came a shout from the stern. The passengers were not doing well. Five wickets down and a paltry 23 runs to show for it. Besides, overzealous batters had already landed two balls in the drink: no runs and out. The sun deck aboard the RMS St Helena had become a village green and the cricket match between passengers and officers was hotting up. Support from non-playing passengers and cheesy pop music over the speakers belied a tense encounter for the ‘South Atlantic Ashes’.

Most of the passengers were Saints returning to their home — St Helena, one of the world’s remotest isles, lying 1950km off Angola and 2900km off Brazil. The islanders on board had played many a game of deck cricket in their time. They were fiercely competitive. The batting improved, despite some negative bowling down the leg side, unconvincingly blamed on the roll of the ship. Then the sailors brought their pace man into the attack. Wickets fell; the tide turned against the passengers. In the end, it was another resounding win for the officers.

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