"This is worse than Afghanistan," Emmy-winner Mike Boettcher told me Thursday as he helped me pack the last of my equipment.
I left Oklahoma City yesterday morning, headed for St. Helena Island, South Atlantic Ocean: One of the most isolated places on earth.
I won't arrive on the island until the 29th: That's ten days of travel. Flights from Oklahoma City to Washington D.C., Washington D.C. to Frankfurt; Frankfurt to Cape Town. Then, from Cape Town, I'll board the RMS St. Helena, which will take me on a five-day, cellphone and internet-less voyage to the tiny British Overseas Territory, which is still only accessible by ship.
Although my parents are British, I've grown up in the U.S. I'm used to wifi being readily available and not being sold by the megabyte. I'm used to having a cellphone I can text and call from cheaply. I'm used to there being land within 800 miles in at least one direction around me and I'm used to not experiencing water shortages. I'm used to stores being open every day of the week, I'm used to using credit cards and watching Netflix rather than DVDs or VHS. And, as a journalist, I'm used to being able to fix and replace equipment, to order things online and to call colleagues for help during technology malfunctions. (At least in Afghanistan, Mike said, he could take a flight out at any point, and could get UPS to deliver.)
Yesterday, I left all those luxuries behind. I left my house at 6:00 a.m. for the airport. Eleven hours later, I was sitting in Dulles Airport, surrounded by inaguration garb. Today, I'm sitting drinking German beer in the Frankfurt airport as I watch Trump's inauguration. In 13 hours, I'll land in Cape Town.
I have one suitcase and one carry-on to get me through these next six months on this isolated island: I'm nervous, I'm already missing my crazy dog and I've only gotten eight hours of sleep in the last three days.
But I'm also excited.
St. Helena is one of the most isolated places on earth - and is currently one of the most interesting. But the length and cost of travel to and from the island means journalists rarely report on the island: It is one of the few places on earth about which there is still very little on the internet.
Sarah Pitts and I are going to St. Helena to fill the reporting void that exists there. We will be exploring a wealth of topics, such as:
- The introduction of cell phones and an airport to the island
- The 'dark skies' viewing on the island
- Production of the world's third-most-expensive coffee beans
- The things St. Helena has to offer tourists, and how the island is promoting tourism
- The rich sea life around the island
No matter what, moving from the States to the South Atlantic for six months will be a unique experience... we aim to use our website, sixmonthsasaint.com, as a hub for all the video, text and images we produce and freelance. We'll use our social media (find Six Months a Saint on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube) to supplement our reporting, and to show a bit more of our personal experiences with the project. We hope to see you virtually come with us!