I have made the first steps of a journey – in the footsteps of another. A man long dead but local: from just across the water in Tangier, the African town whose old medina I can make out on most days from the water’s edge. A man who embarked on his life just as Marco Polo turned the last page on his and who set out twenty one years later from his family home – walking, sailing and riding around the known world on a journey that dwarfed the Italian’s feat.
By the time he returned, twenty nine years later, he’d been married ten times, done the whole storms and shipwrecks thing, dealt with pirates, perilous employers and eminent hosts from Somalia to the South China Sea.
Having undertaken such a journey, measuring distances and incorporating a diversity of encounters so far in excess of anything Marco Polo managed, you might expect the travelling Tangerine to have achieved a considerable notoriety, to be renowned in the same way as his European counterpart. He isn’t exactly unknown and some of you will have heard his name before; a number of my readers are travellers themselves and others are living in Spain, a country the Moroccan visited and where consequently the name has a little more caché. Others, however, will be new to it and that is because its owner lived in a world delineated, as ours is, by language, culture and faith. More