6/15/15

More amazing adventures with Raphael

Sorry to keep you hanging about my great, great, great, great, great, great uncle Raphael Pumpelly. It's been a crazy busy year. But let's recap from my last post: Raphael was a geologist and he had barely survived his work as a mining engineer in Arizona in the time right around the American Civil War started. After a Clint Eastwood-worthy Western adventure, he finally made it to California.

While in California, the US government hires him to teach modern mining techniques to the Japanese, who had only very recently opened their country to foreigners. So Raphael takes this ship to Japan, and when he gets there he can't even really go on the land because of the still-present restrictions on foreigners. He has to hang out on this great big deck-like dock that is built out from one of the islands so that foreigners can conduct business with the Japanese without actually being on Japanese land. But eventually everything gets straightened out and he goes with these Japanese miners and teaches them how to use dynamite to blow up stuff as part of the mining process. He sees all of the natural beauty of Japan, and he becomes very close with these miners, who are amazed and excited to start blowing stuff up too. But then the emperor changes his mind again and decides that all the foreigners have to leave, and so Raphael is sort of like, "Well...since I'm in the neighborhood..." and he heads for China.

Now, China allowed foreigners in their country at this time, but Raphael says that the Chinese really did not like westerners. He totally understood why: the foreigners--mostly Europeans--acted really entitled. One time, Raphael was on this big old steam boat on a pleasure cruise captained and populated entirely by westerners. They see this small row boat loaded down with bricks, and so it was moving really slow. This sailor on the steamboat says to the captain, "Should we slow down or move?" And the captain was all, "No way. Keep going." So the guys in the row boat are paddling as fast as they can and they are making little headway, and the steamboat just plows into them, ruining the boat, likely drowning the men in it. Raphael was like, "Wow. Why would you be such a horrible person?"

So, yeah, he totally understood why, wherever he went, mobs of Chinese tried to kill him. It was especially bad when he was traveling down the Yangtze River. Whenever his houseboat would try to come to shore these mobs would gather with knives and clubs and try and get on the boat and stab him. And then one time, he was on this other boat, and it started to sink. This other guy was like, "Dude, we have to got to leave because this boat is sinking," but Raphael was all, "I'm not living without my cigars." So he went back to his room and got his cigars. He lost everything, but he not only managed to save his cigars, he kept them dry.

Finally, he decided that he had done China, so he was like, "I should totally trek from China to Russia."

I'll tell you about that leg of the journey next time.

PS: Once again I am luring you in with totally inconsequential graphics. I saw this at a nearby park and found it adorable. Take a smile! Literally.

7 comments:

Cathy Perlmutter said...

That is one heck of a story. You are one of a long line of brave people!

Olga Hebert said...

He didn't take dynamite to China? It seems to be a real ice breaker.

Petrea Burchard said...

I love adventures!

Pasadena Adjacent said...

It's an amazing story. Plus it's connected to the flood of post civil war veterans which always gets my attention. I hope Indians will be involved.

Bellis said...

I love your telling of this. I can see Raphael's adventures sped up in a stop-motion animated movie by Wes Anderson, more thrilling than the Grand Hotel Budapest. Now I'm waiting for further adventures. I take it he lived to tell the tale?

foundpoem1 said...

What a life!

Ms M said...

An amazing story! Looking forward to the next installment!