National Geographic : 1927 Nov
521 THE PATHFINDER OF THE EAST It was Christmas Day before they limped along the shores they named Natal. The indomitable Gama veered seaward to elude the current, but they could not escape its clutches; so they an chored near the mouth of a river which we now know as the Lim popo. Crowds of friendly Bantus, among whom women seemed to outnumber the men by two to one, thronged the beach. Gama gave their chief a jacket, red pantaloons, a cap and a bracelet. That dignitary donned them at once and strutted around the vil lage, crying, "Look what has been given me!" He must have re sembled the liveried doorman of a modern American hotel. The observant Portuguese con cluded that copper and tin were plentiful. Everyone wore circlets of the former metal on his arms and legs and twisted in his hair, while tin was used on the hilts of the daggers, which were carried in ivory sheaths. Again Gama pressed northward, passing the Cape of Currents (Corrientes)--it was now Janu ary, 1498-and reversed the ex perience of most explorers. Henceforth the unknown world he was entering grew progres sively more civilized. The reason is an interesting study in geog- The raphy. settled The landsman easily recognizes vanilla mountains as barriers to migra tions, and he observes civilization creeping along the courses of friendly rivers. The oceans also have their barriers and their traveled valleys. Trade winds and tides that pour through the sluicegates formed by the East Indies create Indian Ocean currents that "sweep round from east to west in an immense coil," between the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. The periphery of this giant swirl crashes against the northern shores of Madagascar and funnels a warm current southward through the Mozambique Channel, which collides with the cold Antarctic Current. Photograph by Citroen Central African Expedition A COMORO ISLAND SAILOR GOES ALOFT Portuguese, sailing in quest of India, found Arabs on the four volcanic Comoro Islands in Mozam Channel. Now the group, exporting sugar and , belongs to France. S The Arab traders who had nosed south ward along the African coast encountered in the resulting storms off Cape Corrientes a barrier no less sinister than our Rocky Mountains seemed to pioneers of the cov ered-wagon era. HAREMS ESTABLISHED TO BREED TRADE AGENTS To the north both Persians and Arabi ans set up trading posts that sometimes grew into cities, trafficked in gold and ivory, and established harems to breed half-castes who would act as their local bargainers and buyers.