Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sea Adventures

Yesterday I was intrigued by a book - 'Sea Adventures' written by Henry De Monfried set in 1913. It seems to be a fascinating look at an attempt to set up a pearling industry on what is now known as the Farasan Islands in the Red Sea. It is quite interesting that only 93 years ago you had a completely different world with slaves, eunuchs and pirates, quite like one of these little bubbles of ancient civilisations that still exist today.

The Farasan Islands are now one of the gems of the Red Sea, their coral reefs are amazing and I managed to find this picture of one of the beaches on these islands and it makes you think what life must have been like 93 years ago:

The book starts:

"The liner was six days out from Djibouti. The Mediterranean was greenish under a rainy sky, the wind was cold and penetrably damp, and the sun died by inches as we got farther from the Equator.
I had been parked among a horde of Malagasys, who huddled together in sheltered corners, getting every day more morose, like sick beasts. I wondered what the poor devils would think of the mud and snow of the trenches."

Somehow the writer seemed to escape the war by getting injured and being 'allowed' to travel to the Red Sea to start a pearling business. I'm not sure entirely how he did this but the picture above does seem preferable to the trenches.

I found the following article about de Monfreid.

Sounds like he lived a pretty interesting life (and I have quite a rare book!)

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