Wednesday, January 14, 2004

I found out yesterday how the Pacific Ocean got its name/reputation. Around the time Magellan was out and about "discovering" places like the Philippines, ships' crews were getting sick and tired of roaming all around the seas looking for things for other people to trade. So mutinies and uncooperative crews were on the rise. To appease his own crew and talk them into sticking it out with him, Magellan, clever guy that he was, pointed out that unlike the Atlantic, the waters they were now sailing were tranquil and calm, and that the crew could just chill out and enjoy themselves until they chanced upon some peoples to plunder. Magellan must have been pretty persuasive because not only his crew but also his description stuck around, and so we have the Pacific, or Oghyanoose Aram, as we call it in Persian.

Now I don't know if the Pacific is in fact a calmer Ocean than the Atlantic (maybe some of you oceanography types can help me out on this), but I know of at least two people who would strongly disagree with the idea that it is a tranquil body of water. For their first date, a friend of mine who is from the Pacific Islands took her now ex-husband (a Canadian dude) for a tour of her local shores. They were walking along the water--not being dare-devils or anything, just walking along--when a wave came and sucked her date into the Ocean. He was slapped around the cliffs for a good 10 minutes, during which time he was totally helpless, and then he was unceremoniously hurled back to shore. An ominous first date, I would think, but I guess the trauma must have been a bonding thing. In any case, ever since she told me this story, I throw sideways glances at the Pacific whenever I go for walks just so I can try to avoid any waves that seem to be getting too close for comfort.