Putting A Turbine In The Dike  

Posted by Big Gav in , , , ,

The Economist has a column on power shortages on the dark continent and how the demand for clean power could be met using geothermal, hydro (particularly from the Congo) and biofuel based energy sources. They neglect to mention what could be the biggest source of energy - the same solar resources in the Sahara that could power Europe could also power sub-Sharan Africa - in fact this is a great way to bridge two currently unconnected pieces of the future global energy grid. I also wonder about power from ocean currents (and maybe even OTEC) in places like Namibia and Angola with strong, cold currents passing along the shores.

SEEN from space, Africa at night is unlit—as dark as all-but empty Siberia. With nearly 1 billion people, Africa accounts for over a sixth of the world's population, but generates only 4% of global electricity. Three-quarters of that is used by South Africa, Egypt and the other countries along the north African littoral.

The need for more power stations in the rest of the continent has long been recognised, but most of the attempts at electrification in the 1970s and the 1980s failed. In some countries, dictators pillaged power stations for parts and fuel. In others, power stations were built but not maintained. Turbines were run at full capacity until they broke, then were abandoned. By some counts, only 17 of Nigeria's 79 power stations, many dating from this period, are still working; the country's demand for power is an estimated 7,600 megawatts, against an actual operating capacity of 3,500MW. The World Bank reckons that 500m sub-Saharan Africans are without what it calls “modern energy”. ...

For now, the continent remains largely dependent on hydropower: 13 countries use it for 60% or more of their energy. But Africa's rain falls more variably than, say, Norway's, and its dams often operate below capacity. Still, many new dams are being planned. Ethiopia has staked its development on damming the Blue Nile and other rivers. In west Africa dams are due to be built on the Niger, the Volta and Bandama. Some of these projects will be held up by financial and environmental disputes, just as Uganda's 250MW Bujagali dam on the White Nile has been. But most will get built.

The river with the biggest hydro potential is the Congo. The potential demand, too, is huge. Only 6% of Congolese have access to electricity and more power will be needed to get at the country's trove of minerals. A grand project to build a series of dams along the Congo's fast-flowing stretches could theoretically supply 39,000MW, enough to power the entire continent. But that will probably remain a dream. Congo has a terrible reputation among investors, and distributing the electricity across thousands of kilometres, much of it jungle, would pose formidable problems.

Aggreko, a company based in Scotland, is the world's biggest supplier of temporary electricity in the shape of back-up generators. It meets up to 50% of Uganda's power needs, and 10% of those of Kenya and Tanzania. It believes that the global power shortfall in the next decade will be much greater than predicted, perhaps over 500,000MW. The ensuing competition for energy, it argues, will see the world split between those countries whose economies grow faster than their power consumption and those, including most of Africa, whose power consumption grows faster than their economies. ...

A pipeline planned for west Africa, which will carry gas that is now flared off in oilfields, could stabilise electricity supply in coastal cities.

Few Africans in rural areas have access to electricity. Connecting them to national grids will be slow and expensive. Yet Lilliputian windmills, water mills, solar panels and biomass furnaces could have a big collective impact. The cost of lighting a shack takes 10% of income in the poorest households and the kerosene lamps are highly polluting. In response, the World Bank has rolled out “Lighting Africa”, an ambitious effort to get 250m of the poorest Africans on clean-energy lighting by 2030.

Talk of the mass production of biofuels in Africa is premature, but advances have been made. Some investors are backing jatropha, a plant whose seeds produce an oil for burning in generators. There is also an effort to tap geothermal energy. The Great Rift Valley, from Eritrea to Mozambique, could produce 7,000MW. Kenya hopes to get 20% of its energy from geothermal sources by 2017.

Engineers think they can also use the steady winds in Africa's mountain ranges for power production. And if the costs of using the sun's warmth can be reduced to 30% below its present cost, vast solar farms could offer cheap, clean energy for African cities and in doing so boost incomes in rural areas. Egypt, which relies mostly on natural gas, is looking hard at solar power.

Other remedies for Africa's power shortages are more familiar but just as urgent: more efficient appliances, such as LED lighting, more deregulation, better use of existing resources by, for instance, improving the quality of power lines, and pooling power into regional grids. Otherwise Africa will remain in the dark.

One key issue to consider when connecting the global energy grid is the issue of interoperability - first getting smart regional grids to interoperate better, then hooking them together. Smart Grid News now has a regular 3 monthly update on grid interoperability news.
The attention directed to the smart grid continues to grow. The drivers for change include high fuel costs, dependence on foreign energy sources, and environmental issues associated with fossil fuels. These and other challenges have heightened the interest of policymakers and businesses to look hard at the smart grid concepts as one of the few choices that can address energy sustainability.

Suddenly, people are becoming aware of the importance of getting the automation resources of the smart grid to connect and talk to each other.

But how do we enable resources such as smart buildings, homes, and factories to participate in the operation of a digitally connected electric system? The U. S. Department of Energy formed the GridWise™ Architecture Council (GWAC) to wrestle with this issue; their mission is to enable all elements of the electric system to interact. We call the successful integration of these automation systems “interoperability” and the objective is to make it easy.

With this article, we launch a quarterly update on the progress of interoperability in the electric system. By electric system, we include all the players, from regulators and policymakers, to electric service providers, generators, industrial controls, automated buildings, and connected homes.

So what progress has been made thus far? The GWAC is composed of members from each of these communities and over its three years of existence it has engaged influential stakeholders to define fundamental principles for interoperation, and in April assembled 50 respected system integration technologists in the development of a conceptual framework for addressing interoperability challenges. In addition, GWAC members have engaged policy and business decision-makers with a checklist of considerations for improving interoperability within their businesses and across the economic environment.

The work accomplished thus far is foundational -- it introduces interoperability as THE enabler for the Smart Grid and develops alignment around key concepts. The next step is to build awareness so the community will take action to remove impediments and improve interoperation between the growing number of automation systems throughout the electric energy spectrum. ...

Energy storage is one of the key aspects to consider when building a global smart grid - and a Dutch company called KENA has an interesting new variant on the "pumped hydro" energy storage solution - a 'subsurface-lake power station' or 'energy island' created by pumping water out of a contained space surrounded by the sea, and then generating power when water rushes back in to refill the space. This sort of idea (I can imagine dry dock like "dams" being built along the coastline to provide this sort of grid service) has a huge amount of potential for neutralising the intermittent aspect of some renewable energy sources that victims of the baseload fallacy tend to obsess about.

Come to think of it, parts of Holland could already be used as a natural "subsurface lake" for energy storage, though I'm not sure the locals would approve of this idea, or if the economics of energy storage versus the existing agricultural uses would stack up...
Electricity storage has a large added value for the energy sector. Storage increases the technical reliability of energy supplies, stabilizes the cost price of electricity and contributes to the reduction of CO2 emissions.

Large-scale storage is pre-eminently suitable in electricity markets with a relatively large amount of wind energy, a situation which, according to expectations, will also apply for the Netherlands by about the year 2020. The island also offers numerous other possibilities, varying from coast protection to ports and from aquatic biomass to tourism.

Enormous savings

Scenario analyses for the year 2020 show that ‘The Netherlands Ltd.’ can make enormous annual savings on operational costs when electricity storage is an integral part of the electricity system. Not for nothing is electricity storage a topical subject for organizations such as the Dutch Sustainable Electricity Supplies Transition Platform (Transitieplatform Duurzame Elektriciteitsvoorziening). The cost saving becomes larger as the gas price increases. Instead of replacing one or more existing peak power stations (or building a new one) investment can also be made in a large-scale storage system.

Environmental advantages

The addition of electricity storage in the electricity net has many environmental advantages, especially in combination with a large amount of wind energy in the electricity system. In this situation electricity power stations need to be taken offline less often, especially at night, or run at a low capacity. By day the stored electricity can be used as a result of which no extra peak power station needs to be used. This increases the energy efficiency of electricity production. The production of wind energy can moreover be used at any moment, as a result of which the CO2 emissions for the total electricity production in the Netherlands are reduced.

Pump generators

The principle of the subsurface-lake power station is made technically possible by using the several tens of meters thick clay layer under the floor of the North Sea. When there is a surplus of electricity, sea water is pumped out of the lake into the surrounding sea; when there is a shortage, sea water flows into the lake while driving a generator. The pump generators required are commercially available. In the first design for the energy island, KEMA and the Lievense bureau extended on the established techniques of the dredging industry. The storage capacity is sufficient to provide more than 12 hours of power at a capacity of 1,500 MW, comparable to the capacity of a large electricity power station in the Netherlands. The energy island is an innovative concept that can be attractive in the medium and long term for the Dutch electricity supplies. In a subsequent stage, a detailed location study is planned and the technical capabilities and economic and ecological values of the other functions will be investigated.

Inside Greentech has a look at wave energy company Finavera in "Building a bigger buoy". I think the combination of coastal wind and wave energy plants, combined with the reverse dam energy storage idea, could become quite popular in the coming years.
Vancouver's Finavera Renewables hasn't even gotten its AquaBuOY wet yet, but today it announced a new wave power project in British Columbia. The company's AquaBuOY technology converts the vertical movement of waves into pressurized seawater by means of two-stroke hose pumps. The pressurized seawater then moves a turbine, which drives an electric generator.

The 70-foot high test buoy, which is under construction at Oregon Iron Works in Portland, is set to make its first splash into Makah Bay in Washington State later this month or in early September. And it's not that big just for show. "To be able to get the amount of power that we want we need to fill it with a lot of seawater," Finavera spokesman Myke Clark told Inside Greentech, adding "the final device will be bigger than that."

The Makah Bay test is expected to generate 1 megawatt, but other projects, including British Columbia, are shooting higher. Finavera said the project in Ucluelet, B.C., which today received an Investigative Use Permit, would have an initial potential generating capacity of 5 MW, which Finavera said is enough electricity to power almost 2,000 homes. But the company isn't stopping there. The Ucluelet project, off the west coast of Vancouver Island, has a planned expansion to 100 MW.

Finavera has 5 wave power sites in various stages of planning, two in the United States, one in Portugal, one in South Africa and the Ucluelet project in Canada (see Finavera wave energy project gets preliminary FERC nod). Grabbing power by air as well as by sea, the company also has wind energy projects under development in Canada and Ireland.

Tom Konrad at Alt Energy Stocks has a post on "Biodiesel's Nightmare: Renewable Diesel". The Empire Strikes Back ?
Until algae farms move from the research and demonstration stage, biodiesel usage is going to be tightly constrained by available feedstock. The feedstocks for biodiesel are oils and fats, which naturally occur in quantity only in animals or the seeds of plants. As such, the quantity of oil available is much smaller than the sugars, starches, and cellulose which occur not only in the seeds and fruits of plants, but also in the stems and leaves, and can be used to make ethanol. Because sugarcane contains the best ethanol feedstock, sugar in the stem (not just the fruit) of the plant, Brazilian ethanol can compete effectively with gasoline without subsidies.

From Trash to Cash

Biodiesel can also compete with diesel on the basis of price, in large part because it is much simpler to convert oils and fats into biodiesel than it is to convert sugar into ethanol, and the oils commonly used for biodiesel today were essentially treated as low-value byproducts (e.g. soybean oil) or zero-value waste products (e.g used cooking oil) of food production. When petro-diesel cost $1 a gallon, biodiesel was limited homebrew in the garages of a few hippie types, but now that it is around $3 a gallon, turning low value oils and fats into high value fuel can be big business.

How big could the biodiesel business get? With US production of soybeans at about 3 billion bushels, if the entire soybean crop were converted into biodiesel at 1.4 gallons per bushel, we would have about 4.2 billion gallons of biodiesel, or around 6.5% diesel fuel consumption in the US. There are many other potential feedstocks for biodiesel, but soy oil accounts for most of US oil production, so we can safely say that domestic biodiesel production will not exceed 10% of domestic consumption without some new source of feedstock. In fact, potential biodiesel supply is falling, since farmers are changing their crop rotation to include less soy and more corn for ethanol. All told, the potential demand for biodiesel far exceeds the potential supply, which will be limited by the supply of potential feedstocks, instead.

Currently biodiesel supply is limited by production capacity, but in the long term, as more production facilities are built, supply will be limited by available feedstock. At this point, commodity arbitrage will set the price of biodiesel close to its main substitute, petro-diesel, and the price of commodity oils will follow along for the ride, but low enough to allow biodiesel producers to earn a return on investment.

New Kid on the Block

The above analysis assumes that biodiesel production is the best way to take vegetable oils and fats, and make them into transport fuel. This may not, in fact, be the case. Last spring, ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) announced a deal with Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN) to use fat from Tyson's rendering plants to make "renewable diesel" fuel in COP's refineries. The key point here is that COP is making what they call "renewable diesel" not conventional biodiesel. They developed their renewable diesel process using soy oil in Ireland, using their existing oil refinery there.

I first heard of this process last October at an NREL presentation (they called it "Green diesel" and could not identify COP as the oil company they were dealing with,) but details remain sketchy. The fact that they refer to the process as a "proprietary thermal depolymerization production technology" and the fact that they are using existing refinery infrastructure should cause alarm to biodiesel firms and investors.

Why should this cause alarm? Because COP claims its "renewable diesel" is chemically equivalent to conventional diesel. If this is true, it's quite possible that it has a lower cloud point than biodiesel, and so could be used at a broader range of temperatures. In addition, since COP is using conventional refining equipment, they may also be achieving higher energy yields.

According to NREL's Overview of Petroleum and Biodiesel Lifecycles, Biodiesel conversion requires 80 kJ of energy for every 1000 kJ of energy in the biodiesel, while petro-diesel requires only 64 kJ to produce an equivalent amount of fuel. While the difference in energy costs is fairly minor, transportation fuel is a commodity business, and COP's ability to use the existing pipeline infrastructure into which their refinery is already integrated, as well as its ability to avoid the large capital expenditures required to build a biodiesel refinery from scratch are likely to give them a large cost advantage over biodiesel producers in this thin margin business. ...

Regular readers may remember the One Laptop Per Child project I've mentioned from time to time - OLPC News notes that one of the initial pilot programs in Nigeria is revealing some other problems that need to be dealt with to maximise the value of these machines - high power costs (something that will get worse in this case as diesel powered generation is only going to get more expensive) - "OLPC Nigeria's Shocking Electrical Power Costs".
Do you remember Jon's computation of One Laptop Per Child "$100 laptop" costs that concluded that XO's are really "$1,000 laptops"? Or the implementation cost follow-up where we debated the estimate in detail? Or José Antonio Meira da Rocha's OLPC Brazil laptop costs comparison study?

Jon's general point was that computer hardware is usually only one small component of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for technology implementations in the developing world. Training, maintenance, and Internet connectivity can drastically increase a project's scope and expense

Expenses in follow-on years are even more difficult to cover when the initial excitement of new shiny flashy things has past. Now that the initial fanfare around the One Laptop Per Child pilot testing in Galadima School, Abuja, Nigeria is waning, OLPC Nigeria is starting to learn this lesson with a cost we didn't include: electricity.

First, Tomi Davies explains the infrastructure he installed to wire the school for power and Internet:
This comprised of a 15KVa electricity generator for power supply, a VSAT dish for internet connectivity, WiFi access points, to connect the laptops to the VSAT (Which was provided by Accelon) as well as to one another and electrical wiring of the classrooms where the XO's were to be used by the children and their teachers (to facilitate laptop battery recharging). An alternate power source (solar panels using gange chargers) was also used to support the laptops power needs.

A quick and rough pricing out of that parts list can give us a basic cost estimate to install One Laptop Per Nigerian Child at one school:

$5,000 - 15KVa electricity generator
$3,000 - VSAT dish
$50 - WiFi access points
$100 - electrical wiring of the classrooms
$600 - solar panels
$250 - gang charger
$9,000

Admittedly, this is just a very rough guesstimate for a high-profile school in the nation's capitol, but if we multiply the $9,000 in initial installation costs by the 41,531 primary schools we find that wiring elementary schools for OLPNC would cost $374 million dollars, or another $24 per primary schoolchild.

But don't be quick to assume that costs stop there. While the XO laptop may be close to indestructible, power generators are not. And expensive power generators bring their own set of problems.

From the Nigeria Chapter of the Club of Rome, we learn that the generator has to be stored in the principal's office to prevent theft, requires costly gasoline, and servicing that can take days. Worst of all, the generator broke down, burning out the UPS for the Internet, and its still insufficient for all the power needs of the school.

Children and teachers can recharge OLPC XO's using batteries that are recharged with the solar gang charger, but there's no Internet connection without generator-supplied power for the VSAT. Of course, a few parents might think the lack of Internet a good thing, what with pupils turning XO's into porn servers.

David Stephenson has a post on the "ultimate disaster tool" - "PV-powered mesh repeater and OLPC laptop" - the combination of the OLPC laptop with solar powered wireless mesh networking.
I hadn’t realized until today that there’s a blog dedicated to news of Nick Negroponte’s great One Laptop Per Child project.

Better yet, there was a post by free community wireless builder Aaron Kaplan about his recent visit to the OLPC offices, where he noticed this Über-cool PV-powered 802.11 repeater (note the requisite OLPC lime green frame…)!!!

Wow: does this one hit my sweet spot:

* I’ve been drinking the PV Koolaid since I first started working with PV pioneer/visionary/ you-name-it Steve Strong back in 1979
* I’m a big fan of CUWiN’s free mesh networking software
* and I’ve always believed that the UN, FEMA or some other funding source should commission a OLPC variant specifically for disaster response, since it would be self-powered, and would create instant, self-organizing, self-healing networks.

Adding in a PV-powered mesh repeater is the icing on the cake.

The post above links to an old WorldChanging piece from Jamais Cascio which talks about the mesh networking software - "Ad Hoc Network Leapfrogging".
CUWiN -- the Champaign-Urbana community WIreless Network -- brings together a bunch of worldchanging ideas into one useful package: Free/Open Source software to create ad-hoc municipal wireless networks using recycled old PCs. The software -- which can be downloaded from cuwireless.net -- just needs to be burned onto a CD, which can then be used to boot a PC (even something as old as a 486) with a wireless card. Once the system boots, the software configures itself, looking for other nodes to connect to; the CUWiN system uses "ad hoc networking" principles to link machines together to reach the computer that's actually connected to the Internet.
CUWiN [...] exceeds the functionality of many proprietary systems. They want to bring ubiquitous, extremely high-speed, low-cost networking for every community and constituency. Following in the footsteps of Linux and Firefox, CUWiN has focused on creating a low-cost, non-proprietary, user-friendly system. CUWiN's software will share connectivity across the network, allowing users to buy bandwidth in bulk and benefit from the cost savings. CUWiN networks are self-configuring and self-healing -- so adding new wireless nodes is hassle-free, and the system automatically adapts to the loss of an existing node.

The CUWiN system is suitable for the developed and developing world alike; the only costs are the old PCs, the wireless cards, the single broadband connection at the root of the network, and electricity. What's particularly appealing is that this model gives new life to functional-but-obsolete pieces of computer hardware, keeping them (and the toxic metals they contain) out of the garbage dump.

The Stephenson post also links to this post at the OLPC blog - "One Cheap Solar 802.11s Mesh Repeater Per Child".
Since I myself come from a background of building and designing free community wireless mesh networks, I was naturally very interested in OLPC's mesh solution. So I was lucky to get a preview of what surprises OLPC might come up with soon.

With my background, one question I had was - "how does OLPC test their 802.11s mesh implementation"? Well, when entering the office, I was quite surprised to see XOs hanging from the ceiling everywhere :) As I discussed with Michail Bletsas, having a moving mesh will actually be something else. But this test setup can already give you a good impression of a school class.

Every XO is connected with a USB-Ethernet connector and thus can be also programmed remotely if the mesh code is not working. The natural tendency is to touch them and explore them, but a "DO NOT DISTURB" sticker reminds you that this is actually a mesh test cluster.

The other thing that immediately hits the eye is the large solar panel on the wall. This solar panel is strong enough to power the gang charger which will be able to recharge the batteries of a school class. The gang charger can furthermore be connected to normal power sockets. So, it seems like going to school will be a nice experience, if you have no electricity at home for some days ;-)

Everybody asks "what happened with the hand crank?" However the hand crank is a bit to fragile. Tests have shown that the force on the mainboard is too big. The hand-power spindle (or salad spinner, or yoyo) is currently undergoing mechanical stability tests and there were still some issues with broken ropes. The current ratio is 1:10. One minue of spinning the spindle = 10 minutes laptop use.

But in Michail's office I was shown something that blew my mind. As said, coming from a background of deploying city wide mesh networks, I knew that this was a big thing.

Take a ~10$ USB 802.11s mesh repeater, observe that it takes very little power and add a solar panel et voila! The cheap solar powered mesh repeater is born! Coming to a lamp post in your neighborhood soon ;)

While I never worked out what caused my "Shockwave Rider" post to get exiled to virtual Siberia (in the form of its abrupt ejection from Google's main index), one vague theory I came up with was that pontificating about online anonymity is frowned upon (for fairly obvious reasons in retrospect). I mentioned very low cost, mesh networked devices as the primary pre-requisite in that post, so its interesting that they are appearing in the wild so quickly. I wonder what form the official response to this will take (however I'll refrain from speculating about the various options available).

Moving on, I'll close with another book review, this time of Kevin Rushby's "Hunting Pirate Heaven", which I think I saw recommended at Karavans a year or so ago, though a quick search just then failed to find the link. The history of Indian ocean pirates was the hook that got me interested, but the book itself is primarily a traveller's tale, telling the story of a journey through Mozambique, the Comoros (and their autonomous island of Anjouan) and Madagascar. There is also a very light dusting of anarchist philosophy intertwined through the book, mostly focussing on the pirate food "salmagundi" and the lost colony of Libertalia.

The Guardian has a pretty good review, so I'll let them explain the rest...
Pirates have provided material for writers for so long that one hardly thinks there could be any literary treasure left, but here is a book which proves otherwise. The search for those "scarlet sinners of the seas", as Defoe called them, takes Kevin Rushby from Deptford Creek - scene of the stabbing of Christopher Marlowe - to Africa's most gorgeous coastline.

That east African littoral has its share of low dives too, he finds. At one point, in Quelimane in Mozambique, a bar-girl whose name is, quite simply, Flesh, fastens upon him. Why? His companion Eduardo puts the matter succinctly. "'She loves you, Kevin.' 'But why?' 'Because you are branco - white.' "

The exchange suggests Rushby to be far more naive than he actually is. In fact, he is a rather cunning traveller - one who sets up his own haplessness. In that way this book (Rushby's third) marks out its author as a worthy successor to Redmond O'Hanlon; he has the same mixture of erudition and comic timing. Flesh's attachment to Rushby, for instance, produces some rare comedy when it brings him into conflict with Machavo. This jealous and impressively muscled individual is cook on the Songo , the tramp steamer which has brought the writer up from Durban. Seeing Flesh and Rushby strolling arm-in-arm through the sweltering streets, the menacing chef rides his bicycle at them like a missile. ...

Rushby's route takes him up the Mozambique coast to Pemba and the Querimba Islands (on the Tanzanian border), then out across to the Comoros Islands and finally Madagascar. On the way he meets drunken rogues, alluring Australians, reformed gun-runners, palm-readers, drug dealers, Foreign Legionnaires - and the unassuming descendant of an 18th-century pirate: "In one of the chairs a French woman was sitting smoking a cigarette, a middle-aged and motherly figure. She looked up with a quick smile . . ."

What ties his various encounters together is the idea of "pirate utopia". These primitive pirate democracies were born of flight from oppression (naval regulations in particular) and contact with exiled dissenters: "Quakers, preachers of the Everlasting Gospel, Muggletonians, Levellers and Ranters". Each man and woman, in these pirate societies - as strangely mixed as their favourite dish, salmagundi - had a right to self-determination, regardless of colour or creed.

One of Rushby's textual sources, Philip Gosse's History of Piracy, mentions a place called Ranter's Bay in Madagascar where the English pirate John Plantain established a fort around 1720. One of Plantain's companions, a fearsome old brigand with a peg leg, would provide the model for Long John Silver. As for Ranter's Bay, could that be the present Rantabe? It's there on the map. Rushby sets off to find out. Nearby, too, is the site of Libertalia, the utopian colony founded by a Captain Misson in the early 1700s, the place all pirates dreamed of: "some Place to call their own; and a Receptacle when Age or Wounds had render'd them incapable of Hardship, where they might enjoy the Fruits of their Labour, and go to their Graves in Peace".

But by the time he gets to Madagascar, disillusionment has set in, along with the realisation that pirate society was probably "nasty, brutish and short on ideals". A better place to find Libertalia, he reflects, would be London's left-wing colony of Stoke Newington, where Defoe is buried. He doesn't even try to hack his way through the dripping forest to the promised pile of algae-covered stones of the fort, though he does find a stout iron cauldron on the beach. But even this discovery comes too late. Instead, "I felt like a man on a cure: a bizarre behaviouristic experiment to rid me of all those myths - Utopia, Crusoe, tropical beach paradise, and any lingering liberal nonsense about Noble Savages."

That is a useful lesson, and this is an enjoyable book, not least because it includes the recipe for true salmagundi: throw together and cook (presumably in an iron pot) fish, pork, chicken, anchovies, cabbage, corned beef, pickled herrings, pigeons, palm hearts, turtle - the meat and the eggs - onions, olives, oil, mangoes, mustard, and several good measures of vinegar and spiced wine...

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