Return to Home Page

April 27, 2012

Geographic extremes

There is nothing particularly unusual about Cabo Da Roca, no specific feature that sets it apart from the other 800+ kilometers of stunningly beautiful, cliffs-crashing-into-the-ocean Portugese coastline.  But from a geographic perspective, the cliffs of Cabo Da Roca are significant: they mark the westernmost point of continental Europe.

tourists at Cabo Da Roca

When I was there last month, I didn’t find the “rugged, windswept remoteness” that the Lonely Planet promised. In fact, I couldn’t even get a picture to fake the windswept remoteness. I tried. But there were so many tourists in my shot that I quickly gave up, and instead amused myself by taking pictures of people taking pictures.

What is it that draws us to geographic extremes, places that are unexceptional from the ground but hold some sort of cartographic significance?

The blockbusters are easiest to understand, as they’re some of the most awe-inspiring points on the planet: there’s the highest point on earth (Mt. Everest) and the lowest (Dead Sea), the longest river (Nile) and the biggest (Amazon), the driest dessert (Atacama) and the largest one (Sahara), not counting Antarctica.  These places are, justifiably, at the top of many “must-see” lists.

But then there are the B-listers, places you’ve never heard of unless you happen to be traveling nearby. Like Cabo Da Roca.  Or the nearby Cabo de Sao Vincent, several hundred kilometers away, which marks the southwestern tip of continental Europe.  Every continent and every country has a directional extreme, and within it, every  region has a highest mountain or a largest lake or a highest waterfall.

Maybe I’m just a geography nerd, but I still think there’s something cool about visiting the B-listers. Like Kanyakumari, which marks the southern tip of India. Sure, there’s not much to do there, it’s hard to get to, and it’s not as beautiful as other coastal points in the area.  But it’s precisely at these geographic extremes that you are forced to imagine your place in the world at that very moment—and it’s hard not to be blown away by the enormity of the planet and your tiny, speck-like existence upon it.

Posted by | Comments (0) 
Category: General

Leave a Reply

Main

Bio

Books

Stories

Essays

Video

Interviews

Events

Writers

Marco

Paris

Vagabonding.net

Contact


Vagabonding Audio Book at Audible.com

Marco Polo Didnt Go There
Rolf's new book!


Vagabonding
   Vagabonding

RECENT COMMENTS

Roger: Way to go, Rease. I like your story, and how things have worked out well with...

Margie: This is an important article for everyone to read at this time of remembering...

David Burlison: Virgin Islands travel advice from a local.. travelaskthelocals.yolasi...

Elaine Odgers Norling: After a year and a half I have finished my first draft of our...

JAY KIM: Hi, my name is Jay. I would like to purchase the passpoprt protector. Could...

Alun: due out in December 2014, self publication, not in the shops...

Roger: I’ll second that.

brandi: One more thing people the bible is about the planets and massive events from...

brandi: And for those of you that want to know you are the cross road if any one wants...

brandi: First off yes you can make a deal with the devil but whats important here is...

SPONSORED BY :



CATEGORIES

TRAVEL LINKS

ARCHIVES

RECENT ENTRIES

Retch-22 Laos in the time of cholera
Vagabonding Case Study: Raymond Walsh
Vagabonding Case Study: Rease Kirchner
Vagabonding Case Study: Elizabeth Kelsey Bradley
For expatriates, America-bashing is a kind of recreational activity
Veterans Day and Historic Military Sites
Easing In: How to Lessen Culture Shock in new Surroundings
The Future of Travel?
Bad days and their positive impact
Magic Bus: On the Hippie Trail From Istanbul to India


Subscribe to this blog's feed
Follow @rolfpotts