augury doggerel

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Nausea, Mermaids

I've been reading Charles Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle and dipping into his correspondence. The poor bugger sailed for five years and was forever seasick. He was much happier on land, checking out the birds. Not that he was always Mr Cheerful in port:

"Callao is a filthy, ill-built, small seaport. The inhabitants, both here and at Lima, present every imaginable shade of mixture, between European, Negro, and Indian blood. They appear a depraved, drunken set of people. The atmosphere is loaded with foul smells, and that peculiar one, which may be perceived in almost every town within the tropics, was here very strong."

But in his private diary (quoted here), he noted that Callao had certain fascinating creatures to observe:

"Everything exceeded by ladies, like mermaids; could not keep eyes away from them."


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