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Tag: Spain

36
April 26, 2012 Posted by tahir in Travel

Ten Worst Travel Moments

1. Being arrested, blindfolded, stripped, and flung into solitary at a Pakistani torture prison.

2. Being given the ‘rubber glove’ treatment on the border of Liberia and Sierra Leone when passing innocently through ‘Blood Diamond’ country.

3. Having dengue fever in the Madre de Dios jungle in Peru. That, along with having stomach problems, no skin on my feet, and worms burrowing out of me.

4. Having the most indescribably bad food poisoning in a locked down military area in Baluchistan, having eaten the sushi platter for four in Karachi the night before (a huge mistake).

5. Swallowing a live murrel fish in Hyderabad, a supposed cure for asthma.

6. Being lost and alone in a storm in a Cessna 152 somewhere above the Florida Panhandle, when I was aged 17 and learning to fly.

7. Being robbed of all my money, my travel documents and my luggage in the night on a train from Madrid to Algeciras.

8. Waiting for five days in a remote village in western Ethiopia for a truck to drive through so that I might have a chance to hitchhike to the next town and get stuck there.

9. Being on an organized tour of northern Namibia with retired workers from a ball-bearings factory in Dusseldorf (managed to escape, luckily).

10. Being lost at night on the live Niryagongo volcano in Congo with the threat of it erupting very likely.

How about you? What are your worst travel memories? Please share in the comments.

 

4
July 15, 2010 Posted by tahir in Travel

Fragment of Andalucia

Back from a quick trip to Malaga, in Spain’s Andalucia. And if anyone is interested at all, drop everything and check it out. The last time I was there was a million years ago and the city was sleazy and sordid beyond belief. I know because I spent time there when I was twenty… weeks alone waiting for a passport. (I had taken the overnight train from Madrid to Algeciras and while I fell into a deep childlike sleep, a thief stole all my clothes, my passport, all other ID, my camera, money… and my shoes. I guess he had the same size feet. So I was washed up in Malaga, trying to regain my life). It’s taken me just over twenty years to venture back there, and what a joy! Malaga is clean… actually it’s beyond clean… it’s immaculate, and culturally stimulating too, and just so wonderful. So, Go! Go! Go! And the most wonderful thing for me was to search for fragments of Andalucian Spain, which are all around.



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7

Geography

The lightning spread of Islam by the eighth century – from Iberia to modern Afghanistan and beyond, led to a huge reappraisal of geography. New information was flooding into research centres in Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus, Cordoba and elsewhere, and new technology (such as quadrants and astrolabes) was used to create ever-more accurate maps.

         The greatest was Al-Idrisi’s twelfth century atlas, prepared for the Norman King Roger II of Sicily (in 1154 AD), incorporated Africa, Europe, Asia minor, India and the known stretches of the Far East. It was the first atlas of its kind and took 18 years to produce.

 

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Knock on effect...

Understandings in our environment and the natural world allowed for breakthroughs in agriculture. These included areas such as pollination, pesticides, irrigation, grafting, crop rotation and soil preparation, as well as the classification of plants. Works such as those by the thirteenth century Andalucian botanist al-Baitar, were used in Europe for centuries to come. His masterwork listed 1400 plants (300 discovered by himself). His writings were translated into Latin and kept in print until 1758, and used until the start of the nineteenth century. Breakthroughs in water technology and hydraulics meant that regions which had been barren could be irrigated, and man could control his environment in ways that had never been possible.



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Vast Libraries

Magnificent libraries were made possible by the price of cheap paper, and by the growing literacy because people were required to read and write the Qur’an. An example was the Royal library in 10th century Cordoba, assembled under the patronage of Caliph al-Hakim II, which boasted 400,000 books. The library’s directory stretched to 44 huge ledgers. Caliph al-Hakim II sent scholars across the East to buy and have copied important books, and in so doing, added to the expansion of knowledge. The library at Cairo supposedly had two million volumes; and the one at Tripoli had three million, before it was destroyed by Crusaders. We can only imagine the extent of the House of Wisdom’s great library before it was sacked. It must have run into the millions of documents as well. It is said that when it was sacked in 1258 by the Mongol Horde, that the Tigris ran black with ink for six entire months.



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March 5, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

Five Facts of England

 
The British Royal Family is of Arabian extraction, through the line of the 14th century Castilian king, Pedro the Cruel.
 
King John of England supposedly offered to convert to Islam, and hand his fealty over to the Moors, if they would help him. The Moorish king refused.
 
Morris dancing is derived from the term ‘Moorish dancing’, and came to Europe and hence to England, from North Africa during the centuries of Andalucian Spain.
 
Shakespeare used stories found in Arabic, which were very current in his time. And Chaucer’s ‘Pear Tree Tale’ is found in the Persian of the Sufi mystic Jalaludin Rumi.
 
The earliest version of the classic English folktale, Dick Whittington and his Cat, is attributed to Persia.
 
 
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