Thursday, November 5, 2009

Caravan Travels

In this week’s reading we continue to follow our character has he travels to other interesting parts of the world. As we were talking about in class we discuss how they travel in large groups with everything they needed for their migration. These caravans not only had all the food and rations they would need, but it had hundreds of animals and camel guards to protect the group of people. One thing I found interesting with the caravans, is that most of the people did not know or have relations to the other travelers. This will be discussed later as this can be very difficult for humans, but was extremely important for survival. Leo explains how one would become immersed in the caravan, “When the wayfarers know that, for weeks and months, they must proceed in the same direction, confront the same perils, live, eat, pray, enjoy themselves, grieve, and sometimes die, together, they cease to be strangers to each other” (154). We could imagine how difficult it would be to travel with strangers that could have different beliefs and customs as us. As they continue on with their journey they are sent with messages and gifts for other lords and rulers. These gifts were brought to one town thought to be called Ouarzazate and he was given the diplomatic relation responsibility by himself. This was a little surprising to him as he says, “Hence I suddenly found myself entrusted with an embassy when I had not yet reached my seventeenth year” (162). This is very interesting part of the story as these gifts and graces were needed for good relations. The gifts such as gold and other riches were nice, but I found it interesting that he gave them Khali’s poem.

This is an interesting part of the story because they do a lot of traveling and encounter a lot of different people and cultures. As I said I find it amazing how the all of the people in the caravan got along with each other as there did not seem to have that many complications. This would be very difficult for us today as it is hard enough to get into a classroom and have a discussion without having at least one person that is too annoying to be around. This is hundreds of people of different ages, gender, social class, and occupation that had to live and travel together for months and possibly up to years. Obviously, we have evolved as a species to get a long and work well with each other because it increases our chance of survival. But, once we became such a dominant species it seems more and more difficult to work and live with people of different cultures and beliefs.

Another part I found surprising was how his uncle entrusted him with the embassy at the age of seventeen. Now, he would not even be considered a man. I know that they did not live as long back then so seventeen would be more like late twenties or early thirties at this time period but this would still be a daunting task at such an age.

Both of these parts of the story bring up some interesting questions. Today, we are so individualistic we can barely survive without our own vehicle. Even with large travel such as planes, trains, and boats many people cannot stand being stuffed up with the same people for even a couple hours. I just wonder if we could ever get along with such a large group of people and travel long distances. We could just say we will never have to travel like that again because of increased technology with transportation, but what if something happened to where travel such as caravans will be needed for survival?

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post. You said that today people don't like sitting near people that they don't know on planes, trains, and stuff, and I agree. I think the reason is because (not only are we individualistic, like you said, but) it is not necessary for survival. In Leo Africanus's time and earlier it was a necessity to travel in packs like caravans so a group's size could protect its members. I think that if there ever was a time where we needed to use caravans again it would be a real shock to some people who aren't used to being in symbiotic relationships with people they aren't familiar with.