We’ve been in St Helena now for two weeks. It’s been a wonderful time with a lot of amazing adventures. We’ve even made some friends. On Friday, Lisa our Austrian managed to do a DJ session at the radio station. We had bought a bottle of rum for us all to share whilst we played songs, danced and laughed to our heart’s content.
Lisa isn’t sure at the moment which direction her life is going after Delos. I tell her not to worry about it and everything will become clear. I think she’s looking for a cause to dedicate herself to. I think we all are at the end of the day. We’re looking for a reason to get up in the morning, to give ourselves a purpose. But sometimes we have to trust in the journey to get there. And then there begs the question- why do we need a quest? Maybe just being is the purpose all along. If you can’t tell by now I’m still figuring it out myself.
She’s incredibly talented at a lot of things. An amazing dancer, she’s also an incredible artist, photographer and now a brilliant DJ. It’s amazing how life has a balance. We all excel at something, whether we know it or not. And it’s not just about ‘talents’. It can be the dedication you have to your family. Your loyalty to your friends. Your ability to organise an event at the drop of a hat. Being an incredible listener to your loved one. Our talents come in all shapes and sizes.
I’m very lucky to be surrounded by the Delos crew- a bunch of people with such amazing talents. I can feel myself growing with them every day, working on my own craft. This time last year I could barely write. Frustration would break through my body on a nightly basis at my fingertips inability to type out words, my brain refusing to string together sentences and my heart just not being in the right place.
My creative flame was not even a smoking match back then.
But now I am writing every day. Do you know how amazing that is for me? To finally have that balance of discipline slip into place and to have the best creative streak happening. I feel at my peak.
My fingers dance across the keyboard, my brain whirls and my heart thumps out each word.
This is it! This is it! This is it!
Working on the sequel of the Contract of Maddox Black, a new pirate story called Tides of Blood (working title) and the Delos Diaries is a great writing challenge for me. I slip from a medieval landscape, to 17th century pirates, to writing up our adventures for the incredible Delos Tribe. I’m never bored- let’s put it that way.
And oh yeah- there’s one more thing.
The Delos Story.
It’s underway. I’ve been recording Brian, Karin and Brady and it’s happening. The book is actually going to come to light and we’re going to share their story on how they managed to create the Delos Project of what we know. But we’re going back, way back to where the wanderlust started. This has been a really exciting project for me to work on and we can’t wait to share it with you all.
I’ve been switching from story to story, writing each night. And if a day passes where we’ve been too busy for me to open up the laptop I feel restless. It’s not about wanting to write any more.
It’s about needing it.
It’s everything I am.
So I suppose I’ve already found my cause. My quest. I’ve always known in a way since I was a child. I’ve only ever wanted to write my entire life. I struggled through jobs, became a teacher, quit, became a waitress and none of that mattered- because what I wanted to be was a writer. It didn’t matter if I didn’t last at a job, and it didn’t matter what job I did do. It was just money at the end of the day. I’ve always trusted my direction when I write. The struggle is what makes the journey worthwhile.
It feels incredible to be the Delos Writer right now.
Sometimes I sit back and blink at how far I’ve come- how far we’ve all come. From how I felt to how I do now. I feel like I’ve come through the fire and been doused by the storm. Cleansed. Peaceful. Happy.
We leave Lisa’s DJ session feeling the same emotion of contentment and return to the boat. We had been keen for a bit of a dance that night but we were so tired that we had to give it a miss.
“Maybe tomorrow…” I thought.
The next day we had an invitation to eat at a Chinese Restaurant with our friend Mike. He’s a teacher in the area and was keen for us to meet his friends and work colleagues. We ate an incredible meal, drank a few drinks and even enjoyed a little bit karaoke.
“I hate karaoke,” I mumbled at the table, sipping my wine.
The microphone is in my hand and I’m dancing with a bunch of other English girls.
“Mama…! I just killed a man! Put a gun against his head- pulled my trigger now he’s dead! Mama…!”
Ok, so maybe I don’t hate karaoke that much. We had thought we were going to party that night, but we were done by 10:30pm. Yawning, we made our excuses to the now very merry bunch of people singing (screeching) karaoke and made our way back to Delos.
The next day, the crew went for another hike across Sandy Bay, of which I declined. I wanted to have a “Liz Day” relax and have the boat all to myself. They returned full of stories whilst my day had been fairly monotonous, losing all of the apps from my laptop and being unable to access Word. Now that’s a big problem for a writer. Calling the ferry in, I managed to get to a pub called Ann’s Place where we use wifi. There I met another guy with a boat who had conveniently a copy of Microsoft Office with him.
So that was the excitement of my day, coupled with a snooze, some punk music playing and a resignation that I was going to do another hike with the crew the next day. I hoped it would be easier than Lemon Valley.
The one was called Diana’s Peak. We would climb the three highest peaks of the island and then we would visit Napoleon’s house at Longwood. I was incredibly excited for that. I’d walk any length to be able to see that.
Rising at 8am, we all tucked into our usual breakfasts of porridge or tomato and cheese on toast and set off into the day. We had managed to rent out two cars for the occasion. Driving down these roads was…an experience.
Tiny and narrow, they wound all across the island in haphazard twists and turns, the incline almost vertical. I held my breath more than once as Brian shifted from 2nd to 1st gear to make the turns, scrunching my eyes shut.
As we wound further and further up the slopes of St Helena, my eyes were overwhelmed by the amount of green surrounding me. Everything was seeped in moisture, rich and full of life, wrapping around the island like a thick emerald blanket. And even though this island was not my home, I felt an incredible love for this place.
I hoped it would stay the same way forever, untouched and protected from man.
Our hike was an enjoyable one, taking breaks, photographs and breathing in the moist air deep into our lungs. I turned and turned around at the top, my eyes stretching to each end of the island.
“I can see the entire of St Helena!” I gasped. “This is incredible!”
The rest of the crew agreed with me. And as we finished climbing the three peaks and returned our walk down in the rain, slipping and sliding occasionally, I felt a sense of accomplishment score through me. This was my life now. This was my story. I felt proud of myself in that moment. Proud that I ever took that leap all those months ago.
I realised there and then that I could no longer imagine a life without these people.
We began our journey to Napoleon’s house at Longwood, excitement thumping in my chest. This is what I had been looking forward to over the passage from Africa.
As the white house loomed over the hill, I sat up in surprise. It was a modest small building, but beautifully built. Its beauty lay in its simplicity, its straight forward purpose and function.
I wondered what Napoleon thought of the place when he was first brought here, a man who had incredible wealth, to remain the rest of his years in a simple house on top of a windy hill.
We bounded through the garden to the door, excited but froze.
“It’s £10 entry,” Brady said to me, turning around. A little lady was standing in the door with an apologetic smile. “And no cameras…”
I understood but at the same time was disappointed. Not letting go of a chance to see inside, Lisa and I paid to go in.
“I’ll give you a sneaky tour,” whispered the woman, putting a finger to her lips. “I’m not supposed to, so don’t tell anyone.”
Usually when I go into a building like that I can feel a residue left behind. That may sound strange, but I believe that people came leave an energy behind. Sometimes you can feel a lingering. But there was nothing here. Maybe an imprint of a complicated personality. But there was no lingering maliciousness left in the rooms.
Napoleon had spent his entire time at Longwood wanting to be somewhere else, kept from his family. I supposed at his death he would have wanted to jog on the first chance he got.
“This is the room he died in,” the tour operator Gwen told us.
Lisa proceeded to ask questions as I stared at the death mask the town had taken of him. Just an ordinary man, the muscles of his face relaxed in the usual expression that you see of the deceased.
What a strange thing to do, I thought. I couldn’t imagine someone whacking on a combination of clay and lime on my face as soon as I kicked the bucket.
Rumours had circulated that he had been poisoned, that it had been the damp that killed him.
“His family had a long history of cancer,” Gwen said matter-of-factly, lacing her fingers together. “That was what killed him.”
We followed her into more rooms.
“This was his dining room. Because of the damp they had the fire going all of the time. It would be so hot in there that dinner would only last for twenty to thirty minutes.”
I walked into the next room, which was his bedroom.
I turned around and saw Brady peeking in through a window.
“How’s it going in there?”
I peered over the window, seeing the camera swinging from his side. “Mate! Pass it through and I’ll try and get some footage!”
Lisa walked in at that moment. “Wha?”
“Lisa! Distract the tour lady!”
“Eh?” Her eyes ran to Brady and the camera and it clicked. “On it!” She rushed out and started to ask the woman questions about a particular painting.
But Gwen was pacing around the next room in wide circles as I crouched down behind a chest of draws, attempting to hide from sight as I prepared to take the camera from Brady.
“And here is where he slept,” she said walking into the room I was in.
Brady dived down and I pretended to be inspecting the engraved wood at the base of the drawers, a deep and thoughtful expression on my face.
The quest failed as quickly as it started and I decided to enjoy the rest of the tour while I could.
“This is where he bathed. This is where he would keep his clothes, his assistant picking out his outfit for him each day.”
It was a wonderful experience walking through the building, and as we left, I felt a sense of accomplishment. The rest of the crew even got to go through the building for free after being asked by another assistant if they wanted to see the Shop.
“I’ll take you the long way!” she hissed under her breath to them.
I was bemused as I watched them all walking in a group behind the tiniest lady I had ever seen with the biggest smile.
Stopping off at a Donkey Sanctuary on the way back to Delos, we contented ourselves with standing in a field with a donkey called Shim and declared our day pretty much perfect.
The days rolled on and the list of boat projects is lying on the table ready to be started on. We’re all feeling ready to leave for Ascension Island, the same restlessness stirring in our hearts. We have a lot of love for St Helena, but the ocean is calling us to get our shit sorted. It’s strange how each place we visit we’re so excited to be there. But as time goes on, the call of the blue starts to ring in our ears and thud in our hearts.
It’s time to get Delos ready again.
For more sailing adventures check out svdelos.com