Sunday, January 17, 2010


The upcoming release of
Creation, the film about Charles Darwin is an extremely important film and is relevant to my project as it touches upon the changing face of science which Henri experienced first hand.

To quote from the movie site "the film is based on “Annie’s Box,” a biography penned by Darwin’s great-great-grandson Randal Keynes using personal letters and diaries of the Darwin family. We take a unique and inside look at Darwin, his family and his love for his deeply religious wife, played by Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind, Requiem for a Dream), as, torn between faith and science, Darwin struggles to finish his legendary book “On the Origin of Species,” which goes on to become the foundation for evolutionary biology"

Darwin's theories were surely at the heart of many scientific discussions that Henri participated in with Louis Agassiz and Asa Gray during his time in Boston in 1852. Louis Agassiz, Henri's Swiss compatriot was fervently opposed to Darwin's theories, while Asa Gray was one of Darwin's greatest allies in the United States.

The screenplay was written by John Collee who also wrote the screenplay for Master and Commander: Far side of the World, a film I greatly admire.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Caballo Cocha

As I mentioned in a previous post Henri travelled with the first wave of German settlers to Peru in 1853. They went to found the town of Caballo Cocha (a mixture of Spanish for Horse and Quechua for Lake) near the frontier of Colombia and Brazil in the Amazon. The town it seems was to be a strategic point along the river for the increasing steamboat river traffic.

Satellite map view of the town of Caballocoacha, which is between the Amazon river and it's dark water lake.

Main square of Caballococha

River near Caballococha

Lake Caballococha

The following excerpt on Caballococha is from Michael Palin of Monty Python fame and his series Full Circle.

"The tour activities, which begin this morning at 5.45, are written up in chalk on a blackboard outside the dining cabin. Highlight of today is an evening expedition into a lake near the town of Caballococha to see and hear Amazon river night life. Bats not baccarat. Once in the middle of this great black lake Daniel orders the engine to be cut and is in the middle of a deeply felt dissertation on the unity and interdependence of all natural life when a cloud of mosquitoes gathers around him, attacking him so fiercely that he is forced to sit down and order the boat to get moving, and fast.

When we are back on the El Arca, Daniel is at pains to correct any negative impression he might have given about mosquitoes. 'Like any insect, they have many uses. One. They pollinate a certain kind of orchid. Two. They are important as food for bats.' There is a pause and an expectant silence.

Later the ship's generator breaks down, so no air-con, no pump for water, no light in the cabin. We are moored up for the night and the air is stagnant, muggy and lifeless. I have doused myself in so many layers of insect repellent that my skin feels like fly-paper. Open the cabin window as far as it will go and wait for the bat food to start buzzing round me. And this was supposed to be the comfortable part of the journey."

Did they stay?
Henri would leave his new friends in Caballo Cocha and continue down the Amazon river to Brazil. What is unclear to me is if any of the settlers he went with stayed. When looking at German settlements in Peru, most information points to Pozuzu and the distinctly German outpost in Peru.

Pozuzo, Peru

When I make my journey, I hope to find out what happened to that first group of settlers and where they eventually made their future in Peru.
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