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A thousand years ago the West was centered on the Mediterranean Sea, with rudimentary trade routes to China, India, and sub-Saharan Africa. These were, to be sure, roads less traveled, as post-Classical civilizations were few and far between, out of reach to all but the most adventurous of merchants. To the west of West lay the dreaded dark sea with mythical monsters, and south, terra incognita, where men turned forever black. Into this world, 200 years before Columbus, ventured Ibn Battuta, Prince of Travelers.

Battuta left Morocco in 1325 and set out for Mecca, "intending to leave all my friends and abandon my home as a bird does the nest." Armed with an insatiable curiosity and the Koran, he would seek an elusive horizon, through a world of Arabian Nights-endless caravans, veiled harems, sailing dhows, and exotic souks. For three decades he would wonder the far corners of the Muslim world and visit Mecca four times. He logged 75,000 miles and 44 countries on today's atlas, three times the distance of Marco Polo, and established himself as one of history's great itinerants. All this while the Western world slumbered for 500 years after Leif Erikson discovered the New World. And then it was 1492.


There is still the epic journey to be made, to dream, to prepare, to set forth as Jason with his band of Argonauts, in search of golden fleece. To be tested by the gods and deemed worthy, to be blessed with a bit of the truth to share with others. This then is the spirit of exploration, as it has always been, and we are all explorers.

© Danny Kimberlin 2015