Number 1 in a Series
Last Saturday a bird struck the window of our living room with an almighty bang and broke its neck. It was one those pigeons with the spiky tufts on their heads that we never had in Townsville and I can first remember seeing in Alice Springs on my honeymoon. I noticed this morning that it has left a mark – it is like an eye, an arc over a circle, and the circle with enough feathery fine structure to satisfy any iridologist. Poor bird. We will have to hang somethings on strings to stop it from happening again. It will never happen again for that particular bird, though: it was killed instantly. It had beautiful iridescent feathers on its side. It was a simply amazing thing from a chemical point of view. From any reasonable point of view. Fearfully and wonderfully made, it was. Life casts so much beauty and complexity so carelessly about the world. Life is so very profligate of beauty – and of suffering. Life is so wonderful and so fearful.
I also finished my virtual ride across the Sahara last Saturday: from Oran to Lagos, roughly tracing the journey in ‘Beau Geste’ on Google Maps. It took me a little less than three years. Most all of it is paved road. It would be great to see it all in real life some day, when Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghrib and Boko Haram have calmed down.
And a few days before last Saturday, I deactivated my Twitter account. We will see if I am stubborn enough to wait out the thirty days beyond which – it is written – return is impossible. I don’t think there is anything I ought to be saying that can be said in 140 characters or less. There didn’t seem to be any flow through from Youtube to Twitter followers, or vice versa, and it was making me depressed almost every day. On days when it wasn’t making me depressed, it was encouraging my troll-nature to a dangerous degree, and I kept having to bite back inflammatory things I thought of tweeting. For example I was going to take advantage of the existence of the International Date Line to cheerily tweet #IndependenceDay greetings on our 5th of July to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Which brings me to my point, which is countries named after peeps. I thought, hmm, is there anyone else besides Simon Bolivar whose name features in the official names of more than one country? I thought perhaps Saint Dominic, but it turns out that the island of Dominica is named after the day it was discovered. I think Bolivar is the only one. But of course this got me thinking of countries named after peeps more generally, and I have put a map together, like so.
The countries in blue have names with a noun part that derives from the name of a particular individual person; the countries in cyan have names with an adjectival part that derives from the name of a particular individual person. I count 22 people who have been immortalised this way. I was going to go through them all (in chronological order) in one big post of geography pedantry jollity, but I think I will do them instead in a whole bunch of individual posts. Because having a country named after you is a pretty big deal.