While riding south I have been reading Charles Darwin’s “Voyage of the Beagle”. Taken from his actual journals in the early 1800’s it is a fantastic telling of his historic journey to the America’s, both Central and South. It must be remembered that, “Origin of Species” was penned towards the end of his life. This after he had collated and mulled over decades of findings. “The Voyage of the Beagle” was written over four years between the ages of 24 to 28. His writing style is absolutely fantastic. Regardless of the content of the book, it is the way he delivers the words and ideas that fills me with so much joy.
He was a fine illustrator, this being the time before photography, but it is his descriptive skills that set him apart from most mere mortals. On any given day his observations would wonder between insects, plants, animals large and small, local people and customs, atmospheric plays of light and colour. On and on with such clarity.
Another lesser know fact is that he spent very little time onboard the ship. He would be dropped of in Brazil or Argentina and travel by horseback or on foot for many weeks before meeting the Beagle at some predetermined cove. The boat itself was mapping coastlines. A tedious and precise chore. So Darwin would travel overland and provide early descriptions of the very countries I plan to visit. Eventually rounding the tip and on to Galapagos. All this in the early 19th century.
Sadly it is true that he was, even as a young man, an absolutely terrible racist. Some apologists have suggested that it was a function of the time. All English nobles practiced caucasian exceptionalism. Maybe so, but few could describe it with such damning articulate precision.
So, just like passages from any abrahamic text I cherry pick the parts I like and disregard the offensive stuff.
Reading his work has me trying to be more observant of things around me. Unfortunately my eyesight is nowhere as keen anymore so I observe in large brushstrokes.
None the less I noticed these tiny crabs that appear at dusk out of tiny holes in the sand, just at the point where the last of the Pacific waves energy dissipates into sea foam. I understand that they are Pacific ghost crabs. It amazes me the speed that they can advance and retreat just at the water line. The interesting part is how, while strolling the beach lost in thought if I don’t look down at my feet I would have no idea how many thousands are within a small radius of where I’m walking.
Otherwise this second day off ended up being filled with chores.
First, needing more peso’s for the hotel I had to ride 4 km to another town down the coast. Without needing to put the boxes on the bike for the short trip I forgot that the bike was still locked with the chain. In trying to pull away I ended up breaking the plastic chainguard. Since I use oil based chain lube the whole area was thick with black goop. The repair was a filthy job. Now my jeans are covered in oil so I had to do some laundry, then go get more money. I realized I had the time to update my GPS for Mexico… It took 4 hours at an Internet cafe to get Windows to recognize the drivers needed to install a more detailed gps map of Mexico. In the end the owner Hanny was super helpful translating the spanish operating system and finally making it all work.
Once the GPS data was properly upload to my unit I crossed the street and bought him a small bottle of tequila.
Here is a picture of Hanny’s Grandfather (in the centre in full uniform) during the Mexican revolution.
Hanny and me.