Friday, October 25, 2019


In an era when you can video chat in real time with people pretty much anywhere on the planet, when Wikipedia is a click away and you can keep up with the news from foreign countries in real time, it's hard to imagine how far off and exotic the unknown lands over the horizon were for most of humanity's existence.

Everybody knows about Marco Polo's travels to far-off China, of course. A less well-known travelogue is that of the Greek philosopher Posidonius, who traveled from Rhodes to far-off Gaul and wrote about the life and culture of the Celts he found there.

One I did not know about until just the other day was a guy known in Japan as Yasuke. Most likely from somewhere in the eastern part of Africa, he had enough of a case of wanderlust to make his way to India, where he apparently spent several years. From there, he continued eastward, showing up in Japan in 1579, where he was befriended by no less a person than Nobunaga hisself.

That's still early days in the Age of Discovery, when much of what people "knew" of foreign lands was only myth, rumor, and conjecture. Some people have always just had the itch to go see things for themselves.