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Journal of a Seaplane Cruise Around The World
Part Three: Asia

Thursday, October 18

Famagusta to Baghdad Bob's excellent description of the trip from Cyprus to Baghdad needs no reinforcement. We were both quite stirred as Asulinak brought us across the remaining bit of the Mediterranean to the Orontes River, when we knew that Europe was now far behind and 10,000 miles or more of Asia lay ahead. We were entering the famous Biblical areas, but neither of us knows much about the history, so that the place names, if they carried any intelligence, were usually associated with a particular Christmas party in the Congregational Church at home rather than with landmarks of the development of a great civilization! Aleppo sounded familiar, and was an old, old town. Between this and the Euphrates were many ruined villages, deserted no doubt because of water failure in some remote day. Then we came upon the long Euphrates, at first strong and wide, later narrow and meandering, reduced by the exhausting dryness of the desert, both of earth and air. We had taken 5000 feet over the mountains near Aleppo, and found it to be cool and pleasant. The desert looked so hot that I hated to come down and suffer for five hours and so held the altitude. In consequence we lost the opportunity of observing closely the excavations and remnant dwellings along the river, and undoubtedly will regret that we did not photograph these. It was long day, nearly eight hours, but we are getting used to these jumps. Baghdad was a complete surprise, a drab desert-colored city lying on a broad river. Hinaidi proved to be five miles downstream. Just now I cannot say why we went to Hinaidi, for my papers do not give any instructions for landing there, but it was extremely lucky that we did, for the channel is just deep enough there for landing, whereas in the front of the city where the Government expected us to land, the current is swift and the channel is constantly shifting. No sooner had we put down, than a Royal Air Force launch came out and helped us to a mooring at their jetty. The ship is being held by a kedge anchor, a nose line to the shore, and a stern line to the pier. It has been drawn just as close to the shore as we dare, so that the native boats, which drift downstream without steering power, shall not run afoul of the airplane. It is being watched by the R.A.F. guards.

Baghdad-Begad! There is a good story about the city. During the war when the English troops were in combat with the Turkish in Mesopotomia, a cryptic message worked its way through the Turkish censors with the significant news "Father's trousers have come down", the meaning of which is evident if you recall that the English always call their trou bags. Bob is having great fun in all this, because he knows Kipling and points out that while there are no tigers on the river, it is a very gray green, also quite greasy, and somewhat limpopo, and the banks are lined with fever trees! Actually the banks are lined with beautiful palms, and these are almost the only vegetation.

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