“You have no idea what the Tour de France is,’ Henri said. “It’s a calvary. And what’s more, the way to the cross only had 14 stations — we’ve got 15. We suffer on the road. But do you want to see how we keep going? Wait…’
From his bag he takes a phial. “That, that’s cocaine for our eyes and chloroform for our gums…”
“Here,” said Ville, tipping out the contents of his bag, “horse liniment to keep my knees warm. And pills? You want to see the pills?” They got out three boxes apiece.
“In short,” said Francis, “we run on dynamite.’
Henri takes up the story. “You ever seen the baths at the finish? It’s worth buying a ticket. You go in plastered with mud and you come out as white as a sheet. We’re drained all the time by diarrhoea. Have a look at the water. We can’t sleep at night. We’re twitching as if we’ve got St Vitus’s Dance. You see my shoelaces? They’re leather, as hard as nails, but they’re always breaking. So imagine what happens to our skin. And our toenails. I’ve lost six. They fall off a bit at a time all through the stage. They wouldn’t treat mules the way we’re treated. We’re not weaklings, but my God, they treat us so brutally. And if I so much as stick a newspaper under my jersey at the start, they check to see it’s still there at the finish. One day they’ll start putting lumps of lead in our pocket because God made men too light.”
longer than i am tall.
and that weight.
life can be gross and awesome, often at the same time.
The Makoko Floating School, designed by NLÉ, is located within the floating slums of Lagos. Unlike many of its neighbor structures, the school isn’t anchored to the ground. Instead, it rises with the ocean on a layer of plastic drums. Its rooms serve as school as well as a shared community space.
Norway Pass overlooking Spirit Lake and Mount St. Helens in 1952. David Bruer photo from National Geographic. So awesome.
Circulation from 1897 to 1959.
From the back matter of The Boy’s Playbook of Science: Including the Various Manipulations and Arrangements of Chemical and Philosophical Apparatus Required for the Successful Performance of Scientific Experiments by John Henry Pepper (1860). Original from Harvard University. Digitized August 17, 2007.
When Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar was gunned down in 1993, he left behind a palatial estate, and a few hippos. And now. the four hippopotamuses he brought to Colombia in the 1980s from New Orleans have flourished to a herd of 40.
Escobar’s Hacienda Nápoles had everything a wildly wealthy cocaine kingpin could want, with a race track, multiple swimming pools, its own airport, a fleet of luxury cars, a bull ring, and even a zoo of exotic animals. These included elephants, ostriches, and giraffes along with the hippos, although when Escobar was killed almost all but the hippos were given to zoos around the world. The hippos with their bulky weight were just too difficult to move, but they were only going to get more difficult.
Left alone on the unmanaged estate, the hippos grew into a feral horde. As their numbers increased, they weren’t content to just lounge in the four lakes of the estate, but also wandered into rivers in the adjoining area. It turns out Colombia is great for hippos, what with the lush vegetation and the lack of natural predators. There they menaced local fishermen and area livestock, culminating in 2009 when three escaped and were hunted down after they were reportedly killing cows and attacking people. One ended up shot out in the open much like its master.
Their numbers now make them impossible to completely relocate, as it’s hard to get a zoo to take more than one hippo. So they continue to take over the estate, basking in the luxuries left behind by Escobar.
Before Romanian gangsters kept bears and tigers for totally not at all nefarious reasons, Pablo Escobar had hippos.
According to mentalfloss, today is National Pick Your Poison Day!
Although this holiday is widely open to interpretation, we recommend no one take it literally. Instead, muster up the courage to boldly acknowledge the one vice in your life that you simply cannot resist no matter how terrible it may be for you. Unless said “poison” happens to be arsenic.
We at the Atlas have slightly darker sensibilities, and would like to draw your attention to the practice of mithridatism, or “the practice of protecting oneself against poison by gradually self-administering non-lethal amounts.”
Wikipedia is quick to point out few practical uses of mithraditism in real life aside from that of zoo handlers, circus artists, and snake handlers in Myanmar. Reality aside, Rasputin was rumored to have partaken, as did the Dread Pirate Roberts… which means all the cool kids are doing it, right?
my latest favorite i created for atlas obscura…
foam icebergs on the shore of lake stillwinter. (Taken with GifBoom)
“Anything worth dying for… is certainly worth living for.”
— Joseph Heller, Catch-22