A few years ago, I was fleeing my first attempt at post-college employment via a six-month wilderness backpacking tour of South America, and I washed up in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, the self-proclaimed southernmost city in the world. Ushuaia is a waterfront city, on the shores of the Beagle Channel, and I started wondering about Charles Darwin’s travels there. I was struck by the rather sudden realization that I had absolutely no idea what the guy had done, apart from the visited-Galapagos-discovered-evolution-grew-miserable-great-beard thing.
Click play to watch Eric explain the idea behind the book
and the thing about Darwin's iguanas.
There’s an English language bookstore in Ushuaia, and so I bought a copy of Darwin’s book, the Voyage of the Beagle, and started reading. And I kept reading for the next few weeks, amazed by what I considered remarkable similarities between Darwin’s account and the traveler’s tales I’d been hearing in hostel dorm rooms for the last few months. I had always thought of Darwin as a boring old English scientist, but in his twenties he was an enthusiastic young explorer -- an excitable, slightly aimless twenty-something looking for steady work, adventure, and something fun to do on a Saturday night in Patagonia. Darwin spent five years traveling the world, climbing up mountains, tearing through jungles, exploring and labeling a continent in a way that’s still familiar today. As I read I got the urge to set out on my own and explore – to see the people, places, and legends that interested Darwin, and what they’re like now. read more >