2.13 Halfway around the world.

Hayes sailed west from Sydney on his way back to the US; thus his arrival in England marked his first complete circumnavigation of the globe.  Please click to the website to see the map.  The distance Hayes traveled in six weeks requires zooming out to show half the earth’s surface.

December 25, 1912 – February 9,1913

On boarding G.M.S. Zeiten at Sydney on Christmas Day, Hayes makes no comment on the holiday but does note that the German penchant for naming ships for “obscure old time generals of Napoleon’ day… Seydlitz, Roon, Goeben, Zieten…” parallels the US use of “Civil War generals no one in Europe ever heard of… Grant, Sherman, Slocum, Logan, Hancock, Sheridan and so on.” He prefers the German ships to the British boats on the same line as faster, cleaner, and more solicitous of the passengers – still – “Were it not for the military aspect of it all, I would like it.”

G.M.S. Zeiten

A glance at the map shows Hayes retracing his route of eighteen months previously. This time though, instead of south to Mombassa, he’ll turn north at Aden toward the Suez Canal, the Mediterranean, and eventually home to the US.

Having covered this ground recently, his diary entries include little detail: Great tides at the entrance to Melbourne harbor: a suspicious woman on board who announces her intention to “escort” every male passenger on the Zeiten; silver-lead ore loaded at Adelaide bound for German factories; the drear Nullarbor Plain north of the Australian Bight; dry at Fremantle; Neptune’s visit at the equator; gamblers causing a ruckus banned from the salon by the officious Germans….

“Colombo made a pleasant interlude” – except that “Lady Alice” followed Hayes and his fifteen year old companion on a tour of a Buddhist temple. “If this is to be a sample of her keeping company with every man on board, she is hard put for escorts.”

Hayes’ critique of Buddhist practices following his visit to the temple might seem unduly harsh if he was less egalitarian in his denunciation of organized religions across all faith boundaries. “The great buildings, the bizarre decorations, the useless, lazy priests who are drones on the body politic cost tremendous sums, but the people give of their little freely to support all this.” How reminiscent of his assessment of Roman Catholicism. He does though write a line particular to Buddhism: “to the onlooker Buddhism resembled a stagnant pool, a slough of despond from which none escape who enter.”

At Aden the “brutal, domineering ways of the Germans showed to full advantage.” Without warning, sailors turned two great fire hoses on the hundreds of purveyors of small merchandise swarming about the Zeiten scattering men, boats and merchandise into the sea.

Sinai Penninsula

The view of the “vast, rugged bulk of Mt. Sinai” on entering the Gulf of Suez prompts Hayes to write a little biblical exegesis: “Of one thing one may be assured. If Moses led 3,000,000 people through this wilderness it was accomplished only by supernatural aid. There is very little natural food in this desert, nor water, nor shade.” (Hayes does not justify his number; one wikianswers site tells how to reach that number, another site asserts that the entire population of Egypt at that time totaled about 3.5 million people.)

The site of Elim’s wells, where Hayes says Miriam danced as the Israelites celebrated their escape from the Egyptians, elicits from Hayes another critical speculation concerning the biblical account of the parting of the Red Sea. “We are even shown where the Hebrews crossed, down some miles south of Suez. This is very unlikely.” The winds just don’t blow properly. The east wind described in the bible won’t push the waters back from the quicksand – “but a north wind will drive back the waters off the flats from some miles. There are quicksands there, and it is possible.” Perhaps Hayes would like to believe in the miracle that saved the Israelites: “The contour of the land may have changed materially in 3,000 years. It can easily when the sands blow across the desert as they do now.”

Suez Canal

The Zeiten makes slow headway up the Suez canal until reaching “the bitter lakes” where the ship can steam more quickly, “materially lessening the time that would be otherwise consumed if it were all canal the entire 110 miles.”

In a diary passage concerning the city at the north end of the canal, Hayes demonstrates that his reading extends beyond the bible:  “Port Said must be near the site of ancient Pelusium, where Cambyses the Persian captured the city by stratagem from the Egyptians.”  And that he is not interested in the kind of photography on offer from wouldbe guides to the “purlieus” of the town: “Peddlers in the streets are everywhere, both as guides and purveyors of pictures. They follow after persistently and will not be denied. Doubtless most people desire to be rather naughty when away from home, else this would not be so fully exploited.”

Kaiser Wilhelm II 1913

On January 27 1913, the Kaiser’s 54th birthday, all the Brits on board the Zeiten join the German’s celebrating, at least “insofar as beer guzzling goes.” Hayes writes that “There is a general Balkan war going on now…” From the deck of the Zeiten, he watched a Turkish battle ship run from a larger Greek ship. When the Egyptians voiced their “sympathies with their co-religionists,” Hayes and some of the other sailors on board told them (falsely) that an even larger British ship entering the Port was another Greek ship hunting the Turkish ship, “an antiquated American battleship sold to the Ottoman government.”

Intrigues aboard the Zeiten reveal that Lady Alice is a spy for the German government. “She gets her trips about the world in payment for information gleaned from her fellow passengers.” Sailing through the narrows as Scylla and Charbdis, “there were no other sirens than Lady Alice.” But even the German officers hold her in low regard, “for who can like a traitor to one’s own coutry?”

Past Capri and “the sullen smoking bulk of Vesuvius,” the Zeiten docks at Naples amidst a swarm of pimps and vendors. But past that crowd, “There is really something to this report of Naples’ surpassing beauty, especially at sunset.” Of course, admiration for a city can’t last more than a paragraph for Hayes. His entry for January 29, 1913 ends: “The more I see of the world the more I feel convinced it would be a better place without man in it.”

Campo Santo, Genoa

Approaching Genoa, a passenger on the Zeiten asked Hayes if he’d “seen anything of the leaning tower of Pysy [sic] yet. [The Passenger] could scarce believe this could not be seen when miles at sea.”  On arrival, Hayes visited the house where Christopher Columbus was born, commenting that the Genoese of his time thought Colombus crazy and the Spaniards threw him in jail before he died. Of all the sights of Genoa, the Campo Santo most “excites the admiration of a mere tourist and globe trotter.” He writes that the compound is only eight acres but “half a million people have been interred her from time to time.” He’s not much for sculpture in general but feels inadequate to the job of describing “this wilderness of marvelously carved marble.” He’s also impressed by a candle a foot in diameter and more than ten feet tall designed to burn for hundreds of years.

French President Raymond Poincare

Leaving some of the “more bibulous passengers” behind in Italy, the Zeiten sails past Corsica, then along the coast of Africa with a splendid view of the Leseser Atlas Range. “Algiers is a clean city” in the midst of a great celebration for the coronation of French President Poincare.

A German man-o-war anchored near enough to the Zeiten that Hayes could see their sword-work drills, elicits comparison between national military comportments: To Hayes, the German officers are bullies, the Brits are occasional snobs brought quickly to earth by their countrymen, and the French are least domineering “though it is said the foreign legion is tough.”

Passing through the strait at night, Hayes could see the lights of Gibralter to the north and of Tangier to the south. With the Bay of Biscay “on its best behavior” none on board suffer seasickness which allows “boozing to their heart’s content.” Taking on a pilot at the needles,

The Needles, Southampton

the Zeiten makes her way to Southampton where Lady Alice greets her fiancé radiant with smiles despite a severe session with the ship’s captain moments previously. “Surely Germany has some obscure purpose in this, and why an English citizen can demean herself to carry tales on her fellows is more than one can see.  I hope I never see her again.”

February 9, 1913, one day short of Hayes’ 35th birthday. His arrival in Southampton signals his first circumnavigation of the globe – a milestone unremarked in his diary.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: