John Lucas Returns to South Africa from Marion Island 2013

John Lucas Returns to South Africa from Marion Island 2013

So returning home after being away for a year on an island in the Sub Antarctic has been somewhat fun. It fascinates me how many people just do not know or cannot comprehend that there are places with no malls, cinemas, restaurants and cars.

On coming to a film store I commented to a friend so what did I miss, he politely pointed out 2 walls of movies. Needless to say this started a conversation and soon I was explaining island life to more than 10 random strangers. Though many still ask me what was it like, what did it look like, was it cold, are the animals big and did you see polar bears?

After a while I noticed that no matter the response or the photographs shared the context was missing. The majority could not understand or relate what any temperature below 0’C felt like. So the best way I can explain the feeling of coming back to South Africa is by comparing it to a scene from The Lord of the Rings. Think of everything Frodo went through during the three movies; can you see and feel it? Now think of the last scene when Frodo explains how he does not fit in, how everyone just goes on with life and how he seems so different and out of place. That feeling, that moment is how I felt.

Though as the SA Agulhas 2 turned towards the harbor and the tug boats pulled up alongside her I looked up at the most amazing sight.

arriving home to Cape Town from Marion Island

Table mountain still draped in darkness and Durbanville touched by the morning sunlight. A sight which will stay with me for many years to come.


A few things I found different being home:

  • Cape Town is still one of the most beautiful cities in Southern Africa with the iconic Table Mountain welcoming any traveler home.
  • Service has been generally bad in stores and restaurants but there are always the exceptions and I commend them for having amazing service.
  • Vehicles have not started to fly (don’t worry guys) but there are a lot more cars on the road and taxi’s still own the road.
  • Excessive facial hair is still frowned upon by society and odd looks are given and kids hide behind their parents.
  • It costs R200 more a tank of fuel for the bakkie compared to when I left.
  • Chocolate slabs can no longer be ripped open along the top. There are now step by step instructions printed on the back instructing consumers as to how to open the chocolates.
  • When sitting down in front of the DSTV I came to notice that channels where missing and renamed. What a mission to view a movie instead of Movie Magic 1 and 2 there are now 6 movie channels?
  • There are new chocolates available, basically chocolate bars such as TV-Bar’s have been converted into slabs and new products such as “Bubbles” are available.
  • Wrapping and packaging to products have changed resulting in utter confusion for some items and odd looks for others.
  • “Bar Codes” for smart phones have taken over and in some stores have even become the “bill” to pay for meals and purchase items.
  • Soil smells amazing, newly fell rain almost refreshes the senses and for a while the oceans crashing waves where disorientating.
  • When trying to find the sun at midday it is no longer positioned half way up the sky but now almost directly above you.
  • The Karoo is amazing and there is still very little that comes to getting on the open road and taking that gravel/ dirt road turn off.
  • People from small towns are still friendly and donkey carts still rule their roads.


I was warned of the strange things I would miss on Marion Island, and here is my list:

  • Ants, there are no ants on the island
  • Sand, the smell of sand and dust
  • Gravel roads
  • Thunder storms and lightning with the smell of bush Velt
  • Then the normal fresh foods and salads, but i think those are a given


Be sure to have a look at my Marion Island blog at Also follow and like explore4knowledge on twitter and facebook.


Until our next adventure on the arteries and gravel roads of Africa.


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