This picture was taken 33 years ago this month in the port of Djibouti, where Thor Heyerdahl, famous for crossing the Pacific in a balsa-wood raft in 1947, burned his latest watercraft in protest in 1978.  The boat, the Tigris, was made of Mesopotamian marsh reeds woven together in bundles by an international crew of boatbuilders, and it had set sail from Qurna, Iraq, home of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, as proof positive that the ancient Sumerians could have traveled all the way from their marsh home, via the Persian Gulf, to the North Africa, all the way to Egypt.  He didn’t make it—neither North nor South Yemen, which were busy fighting each other in a Cold War proxy battle, would allow him to travel through their ports, for security reasons.  So Heyerdahl, stuck in Djibouti, torched his own ship in protest.  It’s not paradise, but it is a Garden of Eden story: after all, God put angels with flaming swords at the gates to keep us from going back in.

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