Jackie Link's Blog

- A blog for no good reason

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Ballast

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There are ballast stones beneath the low-lying streets in my neighborhood. They were dumped ashore by the thousands when whalers and cargo-less sailing ships came 'round the Horn. Some came to trade with the Spanish rancheros, bringing retail stores and taking home dried cowhides, filling the holds to bursting for the return trip to New England - where the hides were turned into shoes and brought back to trade for more hides! - according to Richard Henry Dana in "Two Years Before the Mast" (my all-time favorite book).


The ships sometimes stopped in las Encantatas, the Galapagos Islands, to stow the giant tortoises upside down, alive, in the hold to keep for fresh meat.

I've always felt saddened by that.