Monday, April 8, 2013

Stamp of the Day and Book Review: Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl

I recently reread a most amazing book that I hadn't read for probably 30 years - Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific by Raft, by Thor Heyerdahl.

It was like seeing an old friend, and realizing that the old friend was even more interesting, nicer and fun than I remembered from before.  The book is a classic of course, and describes the rather crazy trip of 6 explorers on a small balsa raft from Peru to Polynesia and their 101 days at sea.  They proved that pre-historic people could have traveled such distances before modern navigation and metal tools.

Thor Heyerdahl's prose is great, he pulls you into the story and the diary, and there were only a few times I felt 'I want to know more! Give me details!'

Kon-Tiki is both an adventure story and an academic description of fieldwork, a great combination.  The thing I remember most from when I read this book as a teenager was the description of picking up the flying fish that had landed on board during the night, and making fried flying fish for breakfast each day. Somehow that image had etched itself into my memory.

Now I have more images, of whale sharks, crashing onto the reef around the final island, and the monotony of just sea, sky, and a tiny raft...

It is now 55 years since this trip was done, and it has been memorized on many postage stamps. Here are a few from Norway and French Polynesia:

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