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Jacques Yves Cousteau
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, 1831 -
The word 'aloha,' in foreign use, has taken the place of every English equivalent. It is a greeting, a farewell, thanks, love, goodwill. Aloha looks at you from tidies and illuminations; it meets you on the roads and at house-doors. It is conveyed to you in letters: the air is full of it.
Can anything be more grotesque and barbarous than our 'florists' bouquets,' a series of concentric rings of flowers of divers colours, bordered by maidenhair and a piece of stiff lace paper, in which stems, leaves, and even petals are brutally crushed, and the grace and individuality of each flower systematically destroyed?
Water is a beverage which I never enjoyed in purity and perfection before I visited America. It is provided in abundance in the cars, the hotels, the waiting-rooms, the steamers, and even the stores, in crystal jugs or stone filters, and it is always iced. This may be either the result or the cause of the temperance of the people.
The traveller who aspires to reach the highlands of Tibet from Kashmir cannot be borne along in a carriage or hill-cart. For much of the way, he is limited to a foot pace, and if he has regard to his horse, he walks down all rugged and steep descents, which are many, and dismounts at most bridges.
Other lands may have their charms, and the sunny skies of other climes may be regretted, but it is with pride and gladness that the wanderer sets foot again on British soil, thanking God for the religion and the liberty which have made this weather-beaten island in a northern sea to be the light and glory of the world.
My first yak was fairly quiet and looked a noble steed with my Mexican saddle and gay blanket among rather than upon his thick black locks. His back seemed as broad as that of an elephant, and with his slow, sure, resolute step, he was like a mountain in motion.
The Rocky Mountains realize - nay, exceed - the dream of my childhood. It is magnificent, and the air is life-giving.
Only the long melancholy call to prayer, or the wail of women over the dead, or the barking of dogs, breaks the silence which at sunset falls as a pall over Baghdad.
An elephant always puts his foot into the hole which another elephant's foot has made so that a frequented track is nothing but a series of pits filled with mud and water.
To a person sitting quietly at home, Rocky Mountain traveling, like Rocky Mountain scenery, must seem very monotonous; but not so to me, to whom the pure, dry mountain air is the elixir of life.
Bugs are a great pest in Colorado. They come out of the earth, infest the wooden walls, and cannot be got rid of by any amount of cleanliness. Many careful housewives take their beds to pieces every week and put carbolic acid on them.
In Japan, the people preserve their temples for their exquisite beauty, and there are a great many sincere Buddhists; but China is irreligious: a nation of atheists or agnostics, or slaves of impious superstitions. In an extended tramp among temples, I have not seen a single male worshiper or a thing to please the eye.
I lived among the Japanese, and saw their mode of living, in regions unaffected by European contact.
If Japanese tea 'stands,' it acquires a coarse bitterness and an unwholesome astringency. Milk and sugar are not used.
Surely one advantage of traveling is that, while it removes much prejudice against foreigners and their customs, it intensifies tenfold one's appreciation of the good at home, and, above all, of the quietness and purity of English domestic life.
At the close of my visit, my Hawaiian friends urged me strongly to publish my impressions and experiences, on the ground that the best books already existing, besides being old, treat chiefly of aboriginal customs and habits now extinct, and of the introduction of Christianity and subsequent historical events.
A traveller must buy his own experience, and success or failure depends mainly on personal idiosyncrasies.
The kimono, haori, and girdle, and even the long hanging sleeves, have only parallel seams, and these are only tacked or basted, as the garments, when washed, are taken to pieces, and each piece, after being very slightly stiffened, is stretched upon a board to dry.
The 'Desert' sweeps up to the walls of Baghdad, but it is a misnomer to call the vast level of rich, stoneless, alluvial soil a desert. It is a dead flat of uninhabited earth; orange colocynth balls, a little wormwood, and some alkaline plants which camels eat, being its chief products. After the inundations, reedy grass grows in the hollows.
I was heartily sorry to leave Leh, with its dazzling skies and abounding colour and movement, its stirring topics of talk, and the culture and exceeding kindness of the Moravian missionaries. Helpfulness was the rule.
Four hours after leaving Kornah, we passed the reputed tomb of Ezra the prophet. At a distance and in the moonlight it looked handsome. There is a buttressed river wall, and above it some long flat-roofed buildings, the centre one surmounted by a tiled dome.
Everyone acknowledges that dinner parties are equally dull in London and Paris, in Calcutta and in New York, unless the next neighbour happens to be peculiarly agreeable.
My first experiences of Colorado travel have been rather severe. At Greeley, I got a small upstairs room at first, but gave it up to a married couple with a child, and then had one downstairs no bigger than a cabin, with only a canvas partition. It was very hot, and every place was thick with black flies.
One of the most painful things in the Western States and Territories is the extinction of childhood. I have never seen any children - only debased imitations of men and women, cankered by greed and selfishness, and asserting and gaining complete independence of their parents at ten years old.
Cock-fighting, which has attained to the dignity of a literature of its own, is the popular Malay sport; but the grand sport is a tiger and buffalo fight, reserved for rare occasions, however, on account of its expense. Cock-fighting is a source of gigantic gambling and desperate feuds.
The situation of Leh is a grand one, the great Kailas range, with its glaciers and snowfields, rising just behind it to the north, its passes alone reaching an altitude of nearly 18,000 feet; while to the south, across a gravelly descent and the Indus Valley, rise great red ranges dominated by snow-peaks exceeding 21,000 feet in altitude.
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Jacques Yves Cousteau
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