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Sharks, ship wrecks, storms, tropical islands...
on June 12, 2003
With each passing year, less and less of the world remains to be discovered. With GPS and satellite imagery, our oceans have been charted and the jungles surveyed. Our world is no longer a mystery. No longer do we have maps fringed by threatening pictures of dragons and sea monsters warning sailors and explorers of the unknown that lies out there. But when I picked up this book I was taken back fifty years in time. Back to a time when men ate meat raw and walked around with clubs hunting big game. OK, perhaps I am getting carried away.
Thor Heyerdahl believed the Polynesian islands were inhabited by sea faring travellers from Peru. But his thesis on this topic was ridiculed because no one would believe that the pacific ocean could be crossed by a flimsy raft made of balsa wood and bamboo. So Heyerdahl decides to prove IT IS possible by building a raft using exactly the same materials the ancient Peruvians used and sailing off the coast of Peru hoping to eventually reach Polynesia.
Nearly every step off his journey was filled with nay sayers who said he was crazy and "experts" who variably told him he was going to die, the raft was going to break apart, or the balsa wood would absorb the sea water and sink. He ignored them all. When they told him balsa trees of the size he needed no longer existed along the coast, he took a jeep deep into the jungles through flooded roads and GOT his trees. Which then they floated down to the ocean in a river.
Heyerdahl is keenly aware of his surroundings and describes his voyage vividly and in simple prose. I could smell the sea breeze and feel the spray of the ocean. It was like taking a mini vacation every time I sat down with this book. You'll swim with whale sharks and get caught in ferocious storms. The six men caught sharks with their hands and even had a pet parrot. I suppose all self respecting seamen need to have a parrot.
The ending to this book was surprising but perfect. It brings the story full circle and could not have ended any other way. So prepare yourself a margarita, kick back, and begin a sea adventure.