The Pirate Kingdom
Avast, ye scurvy dogs! Swab the poop deck, hoist the mizzen, and weigh anchor, for today we be sailin' into the fair cove of Port Adelaide. Mainbraces will be spliced, but not until we've moored. Through me spyglass I spy a black flag flying from the Old Watch Tower, so batten down the hatches – there's tourists in town.
Brynderwyn has changed quite a lot since we last visited. The landforms around the mouth of the River Rabe have changed significantly: Brynderwyn finds itself sitting upon an island now, while the Rabe has widened out to form a chain of aits (river islands) from Dadswells Bridge all the way to Port Adelaide. New roads have been constructed around the bay, and the heritage of this oldest of Vodeo's cities has begun to finally appear along the waterfront. It was very fortunate for the city that they didn't tear down all those old colonial buildings decades or centuries ago, they've become quite the attraction in the age of mass tourism. The Boardwalk, which was originally just a collection of old waterside stores and dingy pubs, has evolved into quite the drawcard with its boutiques, restaurants, and trendy dingy pubs. Be sure to take a selfie with the Pirate of Brynderwyn or Adelaide I (who was born here in 1830), both of whom can be found not far from the Maritime Building, or if they're already occupied, look for one of the city's famous wandering pirates – if they're not busy stuffing shilling pieces into already maxed-out parking meters, they'll be happy to give you a hearty "Arrgh!", or alternatively directions to the Port Adelaide rum distillery (tours and tastings 7 days a week).
A little to the west of the city centre we find the historic port suburb of Viviantown. Prior to the arrival of the railways, this was the real port of Brynderwyn. While the city centre had the pubs, gambling dens, and houses of ill-repute, Viviantown was where the work was done and the money made. Sailing ships would pull up to the docks here to meet the river boats that brought cargoes of sugar, cotton, tobacco, and all manner of highly desirable export goods. The river boats have long since disappeared, but the docks today are just as full of life as they once were, thanks to an influx of tourists that love to walk the old cobblestone lanes and browse through the floating markets.
Across the river from Viviantown sits Tahorine Island, which replaced Brynderwyn's original location. For many years, Tahorine and Caerau were the only settlements on the island – the rest of the island was covered in plantations and undeveloped wetlands, across which carved the Tahorine Road, which runs westward to St David's (home to the country's oldest plantation still in operation) and into the Tahorine Gorge. In the 1950s a four-lane bridge was finally built over the river to link the Rabe and Tahorine islands, and in the decades since, the island has seen an explosion in development. Where there was once marshy and unproductive ground now stand the mid-century houses of Seagrape Tree (named for the native Coccoloba uvifera, or sea grape, which is considered something of a delicacy) and the multi-storey apartments and hotels of Bells Cove, surrounded by restaurants, cafes, shops, and marinas. For a city that prides itself on its heritage, the sight of these modern intruders can be quite jarring, but if there is one thing Brynderwyn has learned over the years, it is that to stay relevant, it must move with the times.
I've been on a bit of a mapping blitz in Brynderwyn for the last week or two. After having a look around various islands and towns in the Caribbean (upon which I base much of Port Adelaide and the Welcome Islands), I settled upon Christiansted and Cruz Bay in the US Virgin Islands to start with, and then moved out from there: Willemstad, Curaçao for Viviantown, Sint Maarten for Bells Cove, little Antiguan villages for St David's, and a number of old Caribbean forts for the three colonial-era forts that guard the harbour and the Rabe: clockwise from the north, they are Brynderwyn, Esmonde, and Kenway; I have a fourth planned for Neville Bay once I start work over there. Four old fortifications for one harbour might seem like overkill, but given Brynderwyn's wealth and strategic location at the mouth of Vodeo's most important river, no chances could be taken. The Castellanese tried to take Brynderwyn once before, they might try again some day.
Today's bliki title comes from an idea I had a little while back when I was rethinking 18th century Vodeo. The origins of Vodeo's monarchy have always been a bit mysterious for want of a reason for existing – the Cambrian Parliament had voted to establish a monarchy in 1729, but as for why, nobody could rightly say. I've already mentioned the idea of a Simón Bolívar-esque figure pushing for the colonies to declare independence from Ingerland, and Vodeo's most famous privateer, "Red" Rachel Montgomery, was well-known around Brynderwyn and the Welcome Islands, so why not them? The idea of Simón Bolívar marrying Anne Bonny or Mary Read and going on to become King is a bit strange, but it does mean that Vodeo can quite legitimately lay claim to being the world's first (and perhaps only) pirate kingdom. Damn, this country just keeps getting cooler.
While mapping, I've imagined myself walking amongst these old buildings, some of which have stood right through since the 17th century. What would it be like to walk the same historic laneways that the Rhysiogans and Ingerish built, as the pirates and privateers of three centuries ago once did? What would it be like to be there with them? To sit upon the Boardwalk and look out to Neville Bay and see a port full of proud sailing ships laden with all manner of cargoes? The scene is ruined somewhat by a drunken sailor swearing as he staggers along and falls into the water, but then that's Brynderwyn for you.
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Anyone helpin' themselves to th' grog'll be keelhauled forthwith.