Wednesday 22 September 2010

White patches on world maps

I'm reading a book ('The Collector of Worlds' by Iliya Toryanov) on the life of Victorian adventurer and explorer Sir Richard Burton (1821-1890). Aside from being the first westerner to make the hajj pilgrimage (disguised as an Arab), he was also the guy to discover the source of the Nile (with John Speke). I've got about a third of the book still to go. Some sections drag, but overall the book is an interesting read.

The other night, I found some lines that I really enjoyed.

This is in the chapter where Burton is in Zanzibar, waiting to journey into the interior on this "most ambitious undertaking of his life" to locate the source of the Nile. He mentions the recognition that will come from solving "the mystery of the source of the Nile that has gripped and amazed the world for two thousand years". But this isn't really his motivation.
"What other aim can there be except to find a meaning for the white patches on the world's maps?"
I kinda fancy that adventuring in the mid-1800s would have been my thing; or even the late-1800s. But, instead of pioneering cross-country skiing with Nansen or filling in the white patches on the world's maps with Burton my role in the world at that time may have been to marry at 16 and cook dinner every night for hubby and seven children...

Mmm... in this light it's not so bad living now, even though Google Earth has the white patches covered.


Uncharted W said...

He he, can't picture you in that scene either Lisa. The adventurous ladies in those days that really stretched boundaries was the missionaries. Maybe you would have been more like an Amy Carmichael... One of my favorite quotes from her: "He has not traveled far who has no wound nor scar."

adventurelisa said...

I've just been reading up on amy Charmichael - I like her. quite extraordinary.