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PILLARS OF HERCULES, SEA OF DARKNESS

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Author Topic: PILLARS OF HERCULES, SEA OF DARKNESS  (Read 3124 times)
Bianca
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« on: August 19, 2007, 05:41:30 pm »








"It was from the city of Lisbon that the mugharrirun set out to sail the Sea of Darkness in order to discover what was in it and where it ended, as we have mentioned before. A street in Lisbon, near the hot springs, is still known as "The Street of the Intrepid Explorers"; it is named after them. Eighty men, all ordinary people, got together and built a large ship and stocked it with enough food and water for several months. Then they set sail with the first gentle easterly and sailed for about eleven day's, until they came to a sea with heavy waves, evil-smelling, ridden with reefs and with very little light. They were sure they were about to perish, so they changed course to the south and sailed for twelve days, until they came to Sheep Island, There were so many sheep it was impossible to count them, and they ranged freely, with no one to watch them. They landed and found a spring of flowing water and a wild fig tree beside it. They caught some of the sheep and slaughtered them, but the flesh was so bitter they could not eat it. They took some sheepskins and sailed on to the south for another twelve days until they sighted an island. They could see it was inhabited and under cultivation. They headed toward it in order to explore and when they were not far offshore, they suddenly found themselves surrounded by boats, which forced their ship to land beside a city on the shore. They saw the men who lived there; they were light-complexioned, with very little facial hair. The hair on their heads was lank. They were tall, and their womenfolk were very beautiful. They were confined to a house for three days. On the fourth day a man who spoke Arabic entered and asked them who they were and where they were going and what was the name of their country. They told him everything and he said not to worry, and that he was the king's interpreter. The next day they were taken into the king's presence and he asked the same questions they had been asked by the interpreter. They told him what they had told the interpreter the day before, of how they had embarked upon the ocean in order to find out about it and see the wonders it contained, and how they had come to this place. When the king heard this, he laughed and told the interpreter to tell them the following: "My father ordered some of his slaves to sail this sea and they sailed across it for a month until there was no more light; they came back having found nothing of any use at all." Then the king ordered the interpreter to treat them well so they would have a good impression of the kingdom, and he did so. They were then taken back to their place of confinement until the west wind began to blow. A boat was prepared for them, their eyes were bound, and they were at sea for some time. They said: "We were at sea about three days and nights. Then we came to the mainland and they put us ashore. They tied us up and left us there. When dawn broke and the sun rose, we found we were in great pain because we had been so tightly bound. Then we heard noises and the sound of people and we all cried out. Some people approached and, seeing our difficulty, released us. They asked us what had happened and we told them the whole story. They were Berbers. One of them asked us: 'Do you know how far you are from your country?' 'No,' we answered. 'Two months journey!' he replied. Our leader said, 'Wa asafi!' (Woe is me!') and to this day the place is known as Asfi."
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