Friday, March 8, 2013

More than 80 years ago, Oskar Speck, a 25-year old German, starving and out of work, decided to leave Germany. He had heard there might be work in the copper mines in Cyprus. He had just enough money to equip his tiny "Faltboot" (folding boat) which he took to Ulm by train where, beside the Danube, he put the frame together, pulled the rubber-and-canvas skin over it, loaded up, and, without any fuss or farewell from anyone, set off to paddle down the river in the direction of the Mediterranean Sea.

Seven years and four months later, on the 20th of September 1939, he coaxed his kayak through the surf and on to the beach at Saibai, an island 60 or 70 miles north from Thursday Island. It was two weeks after the start of World War II - but Oskar didn't know about that. At his bow, often smothered in the flying surf, fluttered the tiny Swastika which he had brought from Germany with him. Three Australian police were waiting for him to berth his kayak. If this was the German invasion, these cops could handle it. “Well done, feller!” they said, shaking his hand warmly. “You’ve made it—Germany to Australia in THAT. But now we’ve got a piece of bad news for you. You are an enemy alien. We are going to intern you.” Read the full story here.

You don't have to do any paddling as you wing your way aboard a modern jetliner towards VILLA MAMANA on tropical Telekivava'u.

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