Archives for 2010
I followed Hannah as she swam over the sand and then up the gently sloping mountain of coral in front of us. I could feel the pressure subsiding—ninety feet, then seventy, sixty, forty—until we came to the top of the reef, at about thirty-five feet. There were green needlefish hovering here, a blue-tinged Caribbean spiny lobster jammed into a crevice, and waves of lettuce coral and gorgonian fans. A four-foot barracuda paid no attention to us, which is what you want from a barracuda. Decompressing in a motionless float, I shared the current with bright, tiny fairy basslets and a pair of gray angelfish that moved in devoted tandem. The reef was a vibrant collage of soft and hard coral thick with fish. Long barrel sponges gave shelter to a balloonfish, a school of mackerel whipped by, there was a black grouper, and an eagle ray fanned past on its way to the shallows.
They call it potbelly hill, after the soft, round contour of this final lookout in southeastern Turkey. To the north are forested mountains. East of the hill lies the biblical plain of Harran, and to the south is the Syrian border, visible 20 miles away, pointing toward the ancient lands of Mesopotamia and the Fertile [Continue Reading]
Pinching pesos and dropping pounds in Havana. In the first two decades of my life I don’t believe I ever went more than nine hours without eating. Later on I was subjected to longer bouts—in China in the 1980s, traveling with insurgents in remote areas of Colombia and Nepal, crossing South America by motorcycle, deeply [Continue Reading]
Journalist Patrick Symmes talks about living on $15 dollars a month in Cuba. His article in the October Harper’s is “Thirty Days as a Cuban: Pinching pesos and dropping pounds in Havana.” And we air a 2008 interview with T.J. English about HAVANA NOCTURNE. It’s about how the Mob took over Havana and lost it [Continue Reading]
Patrick Symmes recently lost a little weight, but gained a lot of insight into how Cuba works. He went there to live for a month on the same rations most Cubans have to live on: about $15 American worth of food. Put another way: most of us would be licking the crumbs from the cookie [Continue Reading]
With last Wednesday’s announcement of plans to release 52 political prisoners who were arrested during a 2003 crackdown, Cuban President Raúl Castro took his first major step away from decades of hardline policy. Under the deal negotiated with Cardinal Jaime Ortega of the Roman Catholic Church, five of the prisoners were to be released “within [Continue Reading]
ALLAH WAS INVOKED THAT DAY, after a wood-fired breakfast in an 18-degree dawn. The earth was cloaked anew; hoarfrost made the grass crunch under my boots. Wind ripped away the plume of Daniel González’s breath. Winter in southern Chile, one of the southernmost places on earth. The pickup truck, already humming in the near-dark, gave [Continue Reading]