National Geographic : 1940 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine Photograph by Maynard Owen Williams Nature's Cornucopia Serves as a Paper Bag Tough, waterproof, and capacious, such a twisted palm leaf makes a handy container for five cents' worth of tiny shrimp. Billions of flavorous Caridina appear once every moon and are relished with rice at Gorontalo. and the boat crews are hampered, travel will turn from leisurely, breezy decks to impatient and dusty roads. But these are delightful days, safe from the piracy Netherlands patience has banished, not yet spoiled by hurry and noise. On these beautiful but treacherous coasts, the steamer comes into port at dawn, when tropical day is at its best. One rises at five, sips coffee, goes ashore with the boat crew, watches the muscular fellows wrestle rice or copra, visits the palm-shaded beach or seaside town, and returns for breakfast while the ship gets under way and slowly cruises along under the vertical rays of the tropical sun. Lightly clad, freshly bathed, and fanned by soft breezes, one en joys a strange detach ment and peace. An iced sherbet on deck, a light lunch, a bit of note taking, letter writing, or reading, and there goes the anchor for another palm fringed port where one can stretch his legs and imagination before coming back at dusk, with the little ship a black blot against the radiant sky. I traveled hundreds of miles through the Celebes by motorcar, reaching regions more primitive than any that touch the sea. But pleasant to re member are the peace ful voyages where cargo, not passengers, paid the piper and set the tune-the tune of slow surf, of muscular backs balancing bags of rice, of white-toothed laughter, of blissful ig norance, of small brown babies chatting with big white cockatoos, of Chi nese food carried to cot ton-shirted merchants playing dominoes in the between-decks shops which serve these tiny ports. We steamed north to Donggala whence a motor road crosses the narrow northern arm or tentacle to Parigi, one of the many Tomini Gulf ports at which our ship would stop after a long trip around the North Cape. North Cape indeed! But no midnight sun here, two degrees from the Equator. Thumbing, Oriental Style Before swift sunset came I was adopted by a group of laughing youngsters who invited me to play badminton. My last attempt had been on the terraced Lebanon in 1912, but whenever I managed to make a point my ten year-old playmates cheered lustily and stuck their thumbs up in the Oriental way that means "Fine."