A Curious Parallel
Professor Blix Teaches Geography and History
It was a day of clearest azure blanketed in gentle warmth as the trusty sun began to work its magic; the time of year was early spring and the time of day approached the noon hour. We were leaping along on board the Bitch in a freshening breeze that propelled us along readily enough, pushing us ever onward in an easterly direction on a course just below latitude 30 in the vast Atlantic Ocean. Latitude 30! Consider this: Were we to continue forward on this line around the globe, what wonders might we witness? Our first encounter would be the northern tip of the renowned and feared Bermuda triangle, source of so many unexplained disappearances over the centuries. What adventure and terror might our little vessel encounter in these foreboding waters? Best that she should lift her skirts and skip quickly across the Sargasso Sea and make way across this mighty ocean for the safety of the Canary Islands, where we must magically prepare our ship for flight, for it is here that the noble Atlantic ends and the lands of Africa begin. Africa! Sailing our flying boat across the Dark Continent we would soon encounter the bazaars and caravans of Old Marekesh, Morroco, headquarters of intrigue and mysteries centuries old; then quickly spanning Algeria and Libya we would find ourselves sailing over Egypt past Cairo and Giza and the Great Pyramid, guarded by its loyal watchdog the Sphinx, for these ancient wonders do indeed lie along this curious parallel. But we have a globe to span! We mere mortals have a limited lifetime; no time to linger and ponder the Riddle! Now look below and a bit north, quickly! Bethlehem! Jeruselem! Why, the whole story of the Savior plays out along this trail! But there is no time, no time; we must fly rapidly across Northern Arabia and its endless deserts. Our next way point is in Iraq, for here on this line lies the site of Ur of the Chaldees, once the mightiest civilization on Earth. Have you heard of Ur? It is home of the Great Ziggurat, the Mesopotamian Temple of the Moon. Many learned scholars think that it is hereabouts that The Great Gardner planted his Garden, laying in a crop at the conjoining of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, a crop that would one day yield the strangest of fruits. Each of these mysteries would fill volumes; and indeed they have. But we simple sailors of the sky are not here today to ponder or unravel; but merely to observe. Tourist-like, we are here to marvel and acknowledge that there does indeed seem to be a continuity of ancient wonder along this course around the planet.
“Ready for another beer?” asked Cromwell, breaking into my reverie.
“Sure. Feel like driving for awhile?” I took the fresh can from him and fitted it into my day-glo orange holder with the dolphin yin-yang symbol.
“Always ready to drive,” he said. I handed him the tiller extension and we slid around on the tramp to change positions. I like steering the boat well enough, but it was more relaxing to let Cromwell do the driving while I sat forward, in the sun, and just enjoyed the ride. We were pretty far from shore. We could just see the top of the Deleon Condo Tower, the tallest on the beach at twenty stories. I lay back and took a sip of beer.
“Do you know about Latitude 30?” I asked.
“Isn't that where we are?”
“Yeah. But I mean do you know about all the old cities and and so on? For example do you know that the 30th parallel runs through the Himalayas?”
“Yeah way. India, Nepal, Tibet and China all have the 30th running through them. Mostly the Himalyan Mountain Range.”
“Why do you know this?” Cromwell asked.
“I just re-read Lost Horizon last night and looked on the internet about the Shangri-la legend. It had a lot of info about possible locations. Most of them were around the 30th latitude. So I dusted off my trusty globe and traced my finger around. We here in Ruby Beach are in a planetary line with some places with a pretty impressive history.”
“You are full of just the damndest information. Look, a pod of dolphins over starboard.” I turned to look. A pod of five or six Tursiops were arcing along, not twenty feet from the boat. They usually come to visit when we are out here. And I knew that Cromwell was trying to stave off a lecture.
“By the way,” he said, “One of those personal storage places called the shop yesterday and said they had a big box of unclaimed property sitting there they want to get rid of. Some kind of old pottery. I'm going over to take a look tomorrow morning. Want to come along?” Cromwell is an artist. He operates a pottery shop on Coronado Ave.
“What time?” I said. The dolphins were gone.