Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"Jaded with rambling over the ruins of the Old World / English and American travellers will be bitten by moschetoes / & the two oceans will be united.

2014.09.21-IMG_1555
Flying over Panama
"In less than a year, English mailboats will be steaming to Cuba, Jamaica, and the principal ports of Spanish America, touching once a month at San Juan and Panama. To men of leisure and fortune, jaded with rambling over the ruins of the Old World, a new country will be opened. After a journey on the Nile, a day in Petra, and a bath in the Euphrates, English and American travellers will be bitten by moschetoes [sic] on the Lake of Nicaragua, and drink Champagne and Burton ale on the desolate shores of San Juan on the Pacific. The random remarks of the traveller for amusement, and the observations of careful and scientific men, will be brought together, a mass of knowledge will be accumulated and made public, and in my opinion the two oceans will be united." - John Lloyd Stephens. Incidents of Travel in Central-America, Chiapas and Yucatan. Illustrated by Numerous Engravings. London (1841), Volume I, p.417-18
[The United States was an early and strong supporter of the Nicaraguan route for a canal across the Isthmus, as opposed eventually selected Panama route. This quote, however, roughly holds true for either route!]

From Wikipedia:
John Lloyd Stephens (November 28, 1805 – October 13, 1852) was an American explorer, writer, and diplomat. Stephens was a pivotal figure in the rediscovery of Maya civilization throughout Middle America and in the planning of the Panama railroad. In 1839, President Martin Van Buren commissioned Stephens as Special Ambassador to Central America. While there, the government of the Federal Republic of Central America fell apart in civil war. His Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatán gives a vivid description of some of those events which Stephens witnessed.
A few years earlier, he had traveled to the Middle East, publishing Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petraea, and the Holy Land (1837), one of the best (and earliest) American account of the region (and where I'd first heard of him when writing my book on Egyptian travel accounts, Nile Notes of a Howadji (1992).

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