Wednesday, August 5, 2009

around the world

I'm finally getting around to reading Laurence Bergreen's fabulous book Over the Edge of the World, about Ferdinand Magellan's around-the-world voyage from 1519-1521 (drawing of his flagship Victoria above). Appropriate reading after a month in the country whose canal makes global shipping possible. I can hardly imagine what it would have been like: sailing beyond the limits of your maps, beyond where anyone you've ever heard of has gone before, when everything you've heard says that only sea monsters, cannibals, and the edge of the world awaits. Every time a storm hit, and there were many that hit as they neared the Antarctic, could have been simply a storm or the end of the world. Can you imagine running into an elephant seal for the first time? Given that my flight home from Panama was accomplished in a day and required nothing from me (get on, buckle up, fall asleep, watch this movie, have some peanuts, get off, repeat)...I can't even imagine what they went through. How this world has changed in 400 years.

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