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"It is far easier to live placidly and complacently. Of course, to live placidly and complacently is not to live at all." - Jack London
"So why are we doing this?!?" It's a question many of you have asked us and we even ask ourselves sometimes. We quickly remind ourselves that our explorations are being followed by thousands of students who are hoping to better understand the cultures and histories of places far from their own homes. We hope you will go on to help create a better world in some way, big or small. Despite the hardships, we know that our adventures and stories are well worth the effort. In this dispatch, we'll share with you some of the trials and tribulations endured by a few of history's more famous explorers. They didn't all have the best of motives, and they may not have gotten stuck in Panama for 10 days, but you can be sure they had their fair share of rough seas!
Only 155 crew members survived to this point, enough to continue with only two of the ships. To ensure that at least one would make it back to Spain, one headed back to the east, the other kept going west. As it turns out one was captured by Portuguese soldiers and most of the crew were killed. The one that kept going west, however, made it with 17 of the original 270 crew members still alive, almost three years after they had left.
Here's what Amy had to say about Marco Polo, who was born (in 1254) and raised in Venice, Italy:
When Marco was a teenager, he, his father, and his father's friend left on a long trip. On their trip they visited many places. On this trip, Marco Polo discovered eye glasses, ice-cream, spaghetti, and the riches of Asia! When he returned, no one believed his stories of the riches he found in Asia. Marco Polo showed them some of the riches he had brought home. That made Marco Polo famous. When Marco was near death, a priest came in his room to ask him if he'd like to admit that his stories were false. Instead, Marco said, "I did not tell half of what I saw." Those were his last words.
"I set out alone, finding no companion to cheer the way..." So begins the tale of a journey that began in Morocco and encompassed 25 years and 75,000 miles. It was a difficult route but one well-traveled, with rest stops soldiers to escort him through dangerous lands. But when Battuta reached Upper Egypt, war with the Turks blocked his direct path, a fated event, which changed the course of his life. He was forced to take a detour into Syria where he began to crystallize his ambition to visit all the Muslim lands of the world. By the time he reached Baghdad (today the capital of Iraq) he had resolved never to cover the same ground twice. (As some of you may know by now, when we left San Francisco, we resolved never to travel by plane. We'll see how long that lasts!)
On his return home, his experiences were heard with disbelieving ears. But the Moroccan ruler ordered that his secretary record Battuta's adventures. Thanks to these efforts, we now have the story of the person considered by some to be the world's greatest traveler before the "age of steam." It's a tough book to find in the stores but check it out if you can because it's considered one of the greatest travel books ever written.
As for the World Trek Team, we haven't yet eaten sawdust and leather strips; we're not traveling the world with our dads; and we have yet to amass great fortunes... BUT we still have two years left. Just wait and see!
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