Weirdest of all is a rock on the roadside before you reach One Boat itself. Its origins lost in the mists of transience and forgetfulness, although some claim it was a cairn built in the naval period, a tradition has grown up that if you are about to leave Ascension Island and you never want to come back, you paint it. There was apparently a lizard carving atop the cairn, and originally you just “painted the lizard”, but nowadays the ceremony is just to throw a tin of garish paint over it. Over the years the lizard has merged in with the rest of the cairn with so many coats. Some emigrants are less accurate in their paint throwing than others and much of the ground around is smattered like a Jackson Pollock painting. Many people obviously still do not like being stationed on the island, maybe homesick for their families or not used to the limiting factor of its size and options, as I have seen the colour change several times over ten years. I, I must point out, have never ever considered painting the lizard.
Beyond One Boat the road runs straight and parallel to the old pipe that fed water from Green Mountain to Georgetown. On the left is the “Chicken Coop”, a set of old wooden sheds where Conservation keep some of their hardware for maintaining the footpaths and vegetation. The road gradually becomes steeper and you bend up a hairpin and enter Two Boats itself.
There is an air about Two Boats that I love. Compared to Georgetown it is a very modern settlement, built primarily to house workers at the BBC facilities at English Bay. The site was chosen because the climate is fresher than on the coast, and much more hospitable than the north of the island, and it nestles pleasantly in amongst a set of hills. Green Mountain towers over the east, but the perfect shapes of the Two Sisters and other scoria cones help shelter the village from the worst of the wind. Low density housing set around a series of gently curving roads with regular open spaces for play areas and sports fields; it has the feel of a nicely constructed 1960’s English housing estate. Which to all intents and purposes, it is. I often get a twinge of nostalgia when in Two Boats as it has hints of some of the nicer housing estates of my childhood in south Liverpool, right down to the style of the little street lights. Curiously Two Boats has a hint of the ranks like Georgetown, with separate social clubs for managers and workers.