Viquipèdia and French Discoveries

I would never have thought of looking up something on Viquipèdia, the French Wikipedia until I received an email from Jacques Bodin, a retired French Navy Captain who led the effort in 2007 to establish a monument to the great French Explorer Jean-François Galaup, comte de La Pérouse that was installed at Cape Soya at the northernmost tip of Hokkaido, Japan. Although my French is not so good and I soon returned to the English Wikipedia I intend to consult Viquipèdia more often during 2008. Ships are often measured by displacement or the amount of water displaced by the hull but in recently I learned the French word, “Parkour” for something called “l’art du déplacement” and an amazing practice called “Parkour” that individuals employ to move efficiently and quickly using their physical abilities to run, climb, and jump over obstacles they encounter in their daily environment. Although parkour has nothing to do with vessel displacement I thought of the obstacles overcome by La Perouse and the early explorers as they overcame geographic, maritime, and cross cultural challenges while exploring the far reaches of the European known world in the 18th century. When La Perouse landed on the shores of far off islands I wonder if he employed the parkour movement of “Atterrissage” or “bending his knees when toes make contact with ground (never land flat footed; always land on toes and ball of your foot)!” (See Viquipèdia).
Captain Bodin sent me a photo of the monument taken during the installation ceremonies in October 2007. The monument represents the two ships Astrolabe and Boussole that took La Pérouse through the straits between Hokkaido and Sakhalin in 1787 and now bear his name as the La Pérouse Strait. A French and Japanese ship lay off the coast of Hokkaido for the ceremonies held 220 years after the French Explorer passed through these waters. Merci and thank you Captain Bodin.


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