Friday, October 12, 2007

Gene Savoy

In which we celebrate a genuine American eccentric

It's a good bet that Gene Savoy was not exactly playing with a full deck. So what? He was colorful and bold and lived his life his own God damned way.

Never heard of him? That's not suprising. He was one of those delightful crackpots of the latter half of the last century, an amateur adeventurer and explorer out prove his own pet theories about how the world we live in got to be the world we live in. He was akin to men like Thor Heyerdahl -- who piloted the raft, Kon Tiki, across the Pacific in order to prove that South Pacific was settled by South American Indians and not people from Asia -- and Dana & Ginger Lamb, who sailed their own kayak from San Diego to Panama in search of lost cities and buried treasure.

Savoy's exploits included expeditions to unearth some of what are today considered Peru's most important archeological sites, incuding the lost cities of Vilcabamba, thought to be the last refuge of the Incas from the Conquistadores, Gran Pajaten and some 40 other ancient cities and settlements. He also sailed the Atlantic and Pacfic in reed-built watercraft in order to show that many ancient civilizations had contact with one another across the vast oceans and long before Columbus.

Later, Savoy started his own foundation, called the Andean Explorers Foundation & Ocean Sailing Club, whose main purpose was to fund Savoy's adventures. Nice work if you can get it, right Gene? Clever fellow.

He wrote many articles and books of his adventures, such as Antisuyo: The Search for the Lost Cities of the Amazon. Later in life, Savoy became something of a religious nut, essentially inventing his own quasi-Christian theology. He was, I believe, a member of the Adventurers' Club.

Savoy died in his home in Reno, Sept. 11, 2007, aged 80.


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