Saturday, 18 May 2013

A Spirit of Adventure

Just when I was beginning to think that the age of adventure as in King Solomon's Mines or Raiders of the lost Ark, was more or less over, I read something exciting in The Sunday Times edition of 12th May, namely that archaeologists have discovered a lost world in Honduras. The civilisation - spotted from an airplane - looks like "a vast tended garden" and is located inland from the Mosquito Coast.  Even the name Mosquito Coast with its reputation for swamps, cliffs, poisonous plants and leaping vipers conjures up heroes in khaki shorts battling through thick jungle with machetes.  Just think how toe-curlingly exciting it would be to go on a mission (in the company of one of these taciturn, sun bronzed types) to discover a place which has been left to itself presumably since Theodore Morde, an American adventurer and spy, emerged from the jungle in 1940 claiming to have found "a lost city of the monkey god" with giant primate sculptures. He claimed that human sacrifices were made to these gods but before he could be questioned about the location of the place he was killed by a a car in London.  Never was a car accident more ill timed, or was this some kind of curse of the monkey god?   Doesn't the very idea make your flesh creep and your heart pound a little faster?  Even Hollywood couldn't have done it better.  It will be fascinating to see what archaeologists find when they eventually reach this place - provided they survive the combined dangers of the Mosquito Coast.

Another intriguing tidbit also attracted my attention this week. Mmme. de Florian decided to leave her apartment near the red light district of Pigalle in Paris when World War II broke out.  She took off for the South of France and never returned.  When she died at age 91 her heirs set about doing an inventory of her property and their agents stumbled upon this apartment. No one had been inside it since she had left it 70 years previously.  Pictures of the place can be seen on many websites and are worth a look - here is one link which you will find fascinating.  Even more intriguing is the discovery in the apartment of a painting of a lady in a pink dress.  A bundle of love letters also discovered indicate that the painting, although not signed, is by Giovanni Boldini as are the letters.  Boldini was one of Paris' most important painters of the Belle Epoque.  And it gets even better.  The lady in the pink dress in the portrait is none other than Marthe de Florian, grandmother of Madame de Florian.  She was an actress and a socialite and apparently Boldini's mistress. Doesn't it make you long to know more?  What made Madame de Florian decide not to return to Paris at the end of the war?  How did she live during that time?   What was the story of her grandmother?   More questions than answers but the stuff of which epic novels is made.

It's nice to know that mysteries are still out there waiting to be discovered.

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