In recent years I have found myself to be the recipient of an unexpected degree of sympathy. “It must be really difficult for you,” people say, fixing me with a look of obvious concern. “After all, there’s really nowhere left. It’s all been discovered.” In truth, I have been known to get a little gloomy myself about the contemporary world’s lack of terrae incognitae. Which is why, a few weeks ago, I was extremely heartened to receive an invitation to lunch in New York from an acquaintance, James McBride. He wanted to tell me, he said, about his latest project on the island of Sumba. As you might imagine, four decades of globe-trotting has equipped me with fairly extensive geographical knowledge. But Sumba? I’d never heard of it. I hastened to my computer.