CALAMBA TO BARCELONA -- 1 MAY to 16 JUNE 1882

[Aboard the Djemnah -- 26 May to 2 June]

FROM COLOMBO TO GUARDAFUI

Continual seasickness in the midst of continuous rain and unpleasant rocking. The voyage lasted an eternity, for we have had to change our course to escape the bad weather from which we were finally delivered. During these seven days, we had our cabins closed.

But on the morning of the 26th, the sea began to get calm and we sighted the African coast. Greetings, inhospitable land but famous, alas, at the cost of the blood of your sons! Until the present your name has been associated in my mind with terror and horrible carnage. How many conquerors had invaded your land! We saw the places where sank the Hey-Kon and other ships ran aground.

The Cape of Guardafui is an arid, dry rock, without a single leaf -- its base of varied colors is beautiful.

Several fishes play on the surface of the water, amusing the passengers with their movements. The passengers look more gay, induced naturally by the good weather. The heat is noticeable.

Night comes, but at this moment it is delightful. The sky is illumined. The half-moon shines, if not as clear as in the Philippines, at least it is poetic. The sea is calm and the ship in rapid movement cuts quietly the surface of the water. Some are strolling, others are meditating.

A young man plays the piano; there is dancing and entertainment on the deck. I hear it while looking at the sea.

Oh, Thou, Spirit Creator, Being that had no beginning who seeth and sustaineth all things in Your mighty hand, I salute Thee and bless Thee! Over there on the other side of the seas shower life and peace on my family and reserve for me the sufferings.

After the tea, there was singing to the music of the piano. Delightful was the concert of the human voice, the sound of metal produced by human touch, and that of nature personified by the sea. And all this facing African territory.

The following day was tranquil, but it was a calm that burned. The voyage has been good, and at night, which was like the one before it, we arrived at Aden at about eleven and a half.

ADEN

When we got up from our berths, the first thing we saw was Aden; that is, some houses of whimsical shape, white, spread over rocky mountains totally devoid of life. Not one leaf nor one root even.

Boats and canoes approached the ship to load and unload cargo. Canoes with children in them begging for coins to be thrown to them. Numerous peddlers, money-changers, and new passengers. Everywhere ostrich and marabou feathers, fans of different shapes, etc. -- altogether forming a topsy-turvy and shifting mass.

The inhabitants are different from those in Asiatic colonies -- they are black and a light color is rare. It is true that the Indians of Singapore and Ceylon are also as black as coal, but they lack the glossiness that the Africans have. The type is also different -- their eyes are not so deep-set and the face is oval. The hair is curly and woolly; among some it is blonde which, at first sight, looks like a wig. Their teeth are very white. And their language does not have many vowels as that of the Indians, but abounds in guttural sounds. After breakfast, at which we were served oysters, we went ashore in a boat manned by Negroes. It was very hot and it was necessary to wear smoked glasses. Upon stepping on African soil for the first time, I felt a shuddering whose cause I ignore. The soil, hard and sandy, heated by that very brilliant and ardent sun, emits burning steam.

We climbed a coach drawn by an Arabian horse and we began to drive through a wide road marked on both sides by white rocks placed at equal distance. The same monotony. Absolutely not one plant or grass even. Only one wretched hut, made of four poor posts with grass roof, sheltering an unfortunate family, enlivened with the agony of death those deserts. The lord of creation, man, compelled by terrible necessity , lives there where plants do not want to live.

Soon we left the road to climb up slope after slope until we reached a granite fortress, built by the English. Afterward, an open path through high rocks, crowned with a bridge of granite also. After a while we reached the town. The houses were low, white outside and dark inside. The general form was a series of arcades outside, then a wall with a door, and the interior.

Numerous camels and donkeys loaded with water, hay, boxes, etc. walked slowly, led by an African. This reminded me of the journey of the wise men of the East.

The coach stopped and the driver showed us in his own language some little trees which were well tended but rickety, and indicated that the water reservoirs were in that place. We went down and we were met by the policeman who guarded them. On the gate is a sign prohibiting picking flowers and damaging the plants. What flowers? The dying well deserve to be taken care of.

The heat was extreme. We climbed up and at the right we saw a reservoir formed by the mountain slope and a granite wall, whitewashed with chalk...perhaps. Then we went to see another reservoir, one of which by its magnitude, depth, and shape, reminded me of Dante's inferno. It could be regarded as such by the heat there. This reservoir, which is the principal one, is divided by several circles until the bottom. One circle is connected with the next by well-made and finished granite steps. A wide wall separated the reservoir from a smaller one; the wall led to a tunnel which we found closed. On one side were pumps and a bower. The works looked grand and imposing -- nature and man cooperating in their work. There was a deep well which was said to be more than two hundred feet deep; in fact, the bottom could not be seen. We left while other visitors were arriving. On our way back we passed through a fairly long tunnel; there was complete darkness in the middle of it. After this, another tunnel not so long. And afterward we proceeded to the beach. On the way we saw ostrich eggs in the shops, skins of lions, tigers, and leopards, stuffed fish, and other articles. At one shop we were served lemonade on a dirty table in tumblers which had just been used by others. They cut the ice with a nail and served it with their hands. Children came in and fanned us for a few cents.

We left and returned to the boat. The heat was unbearable. At eight twenty-one we sailed towards the Red Sea. Oh! This sea will give us pleasant moments.

FROM ADEN TO SUEZ

We are in the Red Sea. On the first day the temperature was fairly warm and it was very calm, so that we were able to run 300 miles or more. During this time we met several ships going in the opposite direction. The sea was fairly rough but it did not rock the ship. Only yesterday we passed a ship, which could be the Barcelona, going in the same direction as we were.

Last night, illumined by the moon, we saw an arid island. It was a very beautiful and fantastic spectacle. We passed very near it.

When we woke up this morning, it was fairly cold, as in the Philippines during the months of November and December.

At half past twelve of the 2nd of June, we arrived at Suez where we found between the coasts of Africa and Arabia ships in quarantine. We were also quarantined for 24 hours. They brought us cherries, berries, etc. Suez is a small town situated on the right bank of the Canal.

Tonight the moon rose up in the midst of the solitude of the sea; its steady and silent passage through the pure blue of the skies reflected a golden current over the tranquil waves of the sea. Beautiful and bewitching, it reminded me of my native land...Oh! How many are now gazing at you! Alas! And only in you will our thoughts meet! Oh! If your gilded and brilliant disk could only reflect my loving sentiments on the beautiful land of my country! Fortunate are you who can see and dwell in the immense spaces; now you bathe with your silvered light the hospitable roof of my parents! Blessed are you, silent queen of the night, celestial body of love and gentle melancholy! I have always loved you.

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