A Slave & a Woman Went Around the
World & Marco Polo Did Get to China
Let’s get something out of the way: we’re not particularly keen in rating people and facts by numbers. So it happens that for every person who’s done something first, there’s probably a crowd who either got there before, or opened the doors for others to do it. As for events, the argument about the chicken and the egg is still cooking.
After all, when was the last time you were told, with a straight face, that Christopher Columbus was the first to land in America? But history does consider Marco Polo, Enrique de Malay, and Jean Baret, pioneers. Marco did get to China, it seems, and Enrique, a slave, and Jean, or rather Jeanne, were first to circumnavigate the world.
We’ll get to their travelogues in a minute, but let’s not make an omelet just yet. Yes, the eggs did come first, because of the dinosaurs and all that. What’s still not completely clear is why, of all sentient creatures, it had to be the chicken the one to cross that contentious road, and become such a scientific ruse. At times, it’s all a mere excuse to win a few rounds of drinks. Whatever.
The point is that most of what we call recorded history commits to paper only the touchdown moment, however precise it may be doing it. All the prep work, and the pep talk, and the agonizing nights spent pondering the what-ifs and the probable consequences are largely ignored, and if there’s no moment to crystalize on the record, chances Continue reading