GEOGRAPHIC Fall 2011
Chasing Ghosts in Tangier
Hypocrisy of a Traveling Environmentalist
Working on a ranch in Colorado
To Kill or Not to Kill
The ethics of taking an insect life for study Searching for family history in Morocco Adventures in American Samoa
Mapping Projects and Shorts
4 India: Traditional
27 Bordeaux: An Experiential Travelogue
Medicine and Healthcare Practices Harriet Napier
30 Viva El Socialismo!
36 Old Cheese Sold Here: Understanding
the Country Store Tyler Nelson
38 A Sailor’s Life
41 People in Place
Milwaukee Museum of Art (Tim O’Grady)
Cover: Amber Fort in the city of Jaipur, Rajasthan, India (Harriet Napier)
Mumbai, India (Alix Bickson)
From the Editor: Last week, as our publishing deadline loomed large, I sat down with one of our contributors to scan the film he had toted around for months and select the photographs that would go to print in this issue of Middlebury Geographic. Over the course of two technologically demanding hours, we succeeded in changing the negatives from small rectangles of inverted light and dark to fully formed images of Havana. As we chatted about his time in Cuba, each picture took on a story of its own—a specific moment and perspective that captured a fraction of the larger experience of being somewhere. By the time we finished, I felt an odd (and perhaps misplaced) sense of having stood next to our contributor as the shutter snapped, capturing the faces and bodies that inhabit urban Havana. Susan Sontag wrote that, “Photographs…fiddle with the scale of the world.” Indeed, this is one of the greatest pleasures and greatest dangers of editing Middlebury Geographic. We publish words and pictures purporting to tell the truth of a place while knowing full well the impossibility of that task. Yet there is something beautiful in the attempt to tell stories as we understand them. The attraction of the photography and writing in these pages lies in Middlebury students’ ability to interpret the wider world. Not to package it as a knowable thing, but rather to give us their perspective on being a part of it all. We cover a lot of ground in our fifth issue—from the South Pacific to Morocco and on to New Hampshire—and I hope you enjoy each page of the journey. Sincerely, Kyle Hunter
Photo by Sophia Perlman, South Africa
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain (Tim O’Grady)
India: Traditional Medicine and Healthcare Practices Harriet Napier Hannah Judge
ABOVE: In rural Rajasthan, a village volunteer trained by a local NGO holds a weekly self-help group for other women. In this lesson, the women are educated on how to properly care for an infant after a home birth. BELOW: In Jamkhed, India, during the peak of the poppy harvest, a woman looks after her niece and nephew while their parents spend the day working in the fields.
ABOVE: Sunita Devi, a Basic Health Promotor (BHP) trained by Child Family Health International, provides basic health services to Indians living in rural villages in the foothills of the Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand. BELOW: Medical Students from the Aligarh Muslim University Medical School conduct a series of basic health care exams at a clinic set up in a local primary school.
ABOVE: A mother waits with her child for test results at a monthly â€˜swast melaâ€™ or health camp, organized by Seva Mandir, an NGO based in Udaipur, Rajasthan. BELOW: At the same health camp, young women wait for hours to pick up iron supplements to help prevent anemia, which affects more than 50 percent of women in India.
came to the ranch with romantic hopes of discovering classic America—an America far from the liberal tree-hugging Midwestern city America that I’d grown up in. I dreamed of rugged and hard-headed men who scoffed at anyone who got between them and cattle production. Instead, I discovered a group of people fiercely in love with the land they lived on—a group of men determined to restore habitats, work with nature, and preserve not just a way of life but also the land that fostered that life. As we trotted towards the sun creeping up behind Pike’s Peak, I began to notice the people riding with me. Fifteen men dressed in faded wrangler jeans, western shirts, and dark black boots rode beside me, joking quietly with each other. My legs stung with pain within the first few minutes of our ride.
The men around me rode casually towards the peak, the morning stillness slowly melting away with their laughter. Terry, a large man who told me he owned champion horses before he told me his name, explained the business of cutting and splitting, the process of separating certain cows from the rest of the herd. We split the herd according to the land. Cattle grazed intensely in areas that needed more attention, and were removed from pastures where the grassland needed to rest. Duke, the ranch owner, and Michael, the ranch manager, worked together, steering the cattle with shouts of heeyah, while never saying a word to one another. They read each other’s bodies. There was no need to talk. I’d arrived at the Chico Basin Ranch in Hanover, Colorado three days prior with
absolutely no experience with horses. I was greeted by a slate blue sky, blood red barns, and dry yellow grass that seemed to stretch forever. The ranch extended for 87,000 acres, far enough that if I climbed up the tallest grain silo, I could see to where the earth curved, and still not see the end of the property. As we rode in the early morning, Michael and Duke told me about the ranch. It was owned by the Colorado State Land Board and managed by Duke’s family since 1999. Duke told me that he had pride in ranching as one of the few wholly American traditions. More than that, he continued, “we ranch in a traditional way because it is the best way.” Everyone at the Chico Basin Ranch is committed to holistic ranching. They
view the ranch as an ecological resource base, and they believe that emphasizing sustainability and diversification are crucial to its economic and ecological success. Their statement of purpose is working together to live with the land. While cattle are the primary source of income on the ranch, they are also important in maintaining the surface of the ground and restoring habitats. The ranchers understand that high prairie grassland and herd animals evolved in a symbiotic relationship. Because the bison and elk were pushed off much of the land in the West, the grasslands became overgrown with invasive species that would normally be suppressed by herd animals. Shifting herds to different pastures allows grazed plants to recover. I split my time on the ranch between riding and working on a water pipeline that would allow cattle to move more easily into different pastures. Working on the pipeline entailed digging a trench, gluing ten mile’s worth of PVC pipes together, dropping the pipes in the trench, and covering the pipes up with dirt. I spent my birthday gluing pipes together for ten hours. By the end of the day, I could glue one pipe per minute, but my legs were cramped with pain and my knees seemed permanently bent.
I was greeted by a slate blue sky, blood red barns, and dry yellow grass that seemed to stretch forever. According to Duke, ranching is entering a new era. As large corporations and conservation groups purchase increasingly more land, traditional uses of the land are pushed to the periphery. In a recent documentary made about ranching in the west, Duke says that environmental 9
Duke seemed to approach nature as a binary.
you can accept it or you can try to change it.
And if you try to change it, then you’ll probably lose.”
Herding cattle into the North Pasture with the help of an Australian Cattle Dog (above); Dave loads pipes for the new water tank into his truck (across).
groups often assume that ranchers are only concerned with enhancing land in order to increase production, but that in reality they “want the land to be healthy not because we want more grass but because we want it to be healthy.” Duke seemed to approach nature as a binary. “Either you can accept it or you can try to change it,” he said, “and if you try to change it, then you’ll probably lose.” He would often talk about the similarities between ranchers and environmentalists, arguing that ranchers were in the best position to manage the natural world because of their deep understanding of the western landscape. My last day on the ranch, I walked outside to a clear view of Pike’s Peak, and a smile tore across my face. I remembered 10
my disbelief the first day when Michael told me that he found the Midwestern forests claustrophobic, and felt now that I was beginning to understand him. I rode with Michael and Duke all morning, herding a cow and her calf into a new pasture. While stopping to water our horses at one of the new wells I’d built earlier in the summer, two rattlesnakes slid across the dry ground beside our horses. I looked at Duke. He stared with idle fascination before speaking. “If it’s near the ranch house, we kill it,” he said. “We don’t want them near where the kids play.” He paused, running his fingers down his horse’s mane. “But out here,” he continued, “they’re where they’re supposed to be.” He swung his leg over his horse, “we’re the ones in their home.” 11
he decision of whether or not to kill organisms for study is a perpetual quandary for many life scientists;
we are both observers and collectors, and acknowledge the distinct data that
To Kill Or Not To Kill
MORIA ROBINSON 12 88
come from both investigative methods. If a student of biology discovers a unique specimen—perhaps the first of its kind to be found—what do they do? By collecting it, they may remove a key reproductive individual from a population; by not collecting, however, an irreplaceable record may be lost. The species may never be encountered again, nd without a physical specimen, the potential to identify or classify it is also lost. Students of biology have strong feelings both in support of and against the taking of life for study. It seems to many that photography and genetic bar-coding should permit taxonomy to advance beyond collection. Looking at a museum drawer full of hundreds of cryptic moths alongside a key to their genitalia that allows for their taxonomic classification, however, puts the value of killing in a new light. My own opinions on the subject have changed significantly over the last several years. My first foray into collection began when I was ten. With my butterfly net in hand, I would pursue the butterflies and moths of Vashon Island, Washington, capture and identify them, and record their condition and species in a little record book. Then, with a smile and guilt-free conscience, I would put them on my finger and watch them fly away. Four years later, I began seriously photographing insects and, simultaneously had to engage in my first real conversations about the ethics of collecting. When people saw my net, they would ask how many butterflies I had stuck on pins at home; I would explain that I had no dead insects, but albums full of data in the form of images. When I began working at the University of Connecticut as a researcher, I understood for the first time the vast scope of insect diver-
The author in the field photographing a hairstreak butterfly during the 2010 Connecticut State Butterfly Count.
sity, and how small a portion I had accessed in Washington. My steadfast, anti-collecting ethic was based in my experiences with a wellknown, thoroughly documented subset of the planet’s massive insect biodiversity. Butterflies have been the target of study for decades, and in western Washington the fauna is both unvaried and simple. With my choice of three colorful field guides to aid my identification, I had every reason to argue against killing the insects I loved. But in an entomology lab, looking at trays full of dead geometrid moths—each covered in an identical pattern of wavy brown and gray lines—I felt helpless in the face of scientific advancement. Whereas before I had the skills to understand species through my eyes alone, the relationships and evolutionary secrets of these insects proved far more complex than the informative capacity of any field guides. It is true that, by studying preexisting collections and spending nights at a moth light, I
Male Gossamer-winged butterflies (Lycaenidae) at the Smithsonian Museum collection (above). Their dark wing patches serve as scent pads that release hormones to attract females. A tiger beetle (Cicindela) found newly hatched in Washington State (across). Metalmark butterfly (Riodinidae) on a Costa Rican palm (prior page).
would be able to identify many confusing species by their subtle characteristics. The position of the legs at rest, or location of hair-like scales act as keys to accurate taxonomic classification, and are not learned by impaling an insect on a pin, but by studying their living forms and applying that knowledge to other specimens. Examining photographs and familiarizing oneself with reference collections gives much of this knowledge. Do we really need to add our kill jars to the loss of habitat, pollutants, erratic climate, and invasive species already assaulting our flora and fauna? While much understanding of species may indeed be gained from images, scans, and preexisting collections, there are limits to how much we can learn without taking new specimens. For example, revising an entire lineage of beetles would be virtually impossible without making fresh collections; internal anatomy 14
is vital to classify individuals, and cutting open desiccated, valuable museum specimens is not considered an option. Insect collections extend our understanding past the limitations of genetic markers. This past summer, I regressed to my childhood pattern of interacting more with insects than human beings. They were delicate blue butterflies, and the project of my senior thesis research. At the end of my study, I collected a group of butterflies to corroborate my identifications. Despite the ownership I felt over the project, and the extent of intellectual rationale, I found the process only mildly easier. Killing insects will not become a mindless task. I do not want it to be. It was the vibrancy of life that first drew me in to nature in all its forms, as it does for many biologists; and it is life that continues to do so. 15
C E DA R AT TA N A S I O t rave l s f ro m S p a i n t o M o r ro c o, a n d ex p l o re s t h e s t re e t s o f Ta n g i e r i n s e a rc h o f h i s f a m i l y ’s p a s t .
C HASING G HOSTS I N T ANGIER
PHOTOGRAPHS BY PATRICK D’ARCY
Strai ght of Gi b ral tar
S P A I N
wich in my belly and a camera in hand. As the ferry pulled southward, I stared portside toward the British enclave of Gibraltar, a bare rock of a peninsula on which I never set foot. Behind the boat, up the hill in front of a brick government building, the green and white stripes of the Andalusian flag flopped in a mild wind. The flag depicted a lion-skin clad Hercules with a club over his shoulder, two docile lions at his feet, and two white columns at his back. According to Greek myth, Hercules tore Iberia and North Africa apart leaving his two pillars, the rock of Gibraltar on one side and the Jebel Musa on the other. For the ancients, the pillars of Hercules marked the end of the known world. Sol grew up in Tangier. Spanish was her first language, but she spoke Arabic and French in the street. I think that she taught my father Arabic at home. One of my aunts in Rome told me that when he arrived in Italy after Sol’s death, he carried an Arabic grammar book full of elementary scribbles. The aunt who told me this, Lina, married Guiseppe’s brother after meeting him in Tangier. Lina’s family—joined by many other post World War II refugees— had fled Spain during the civil war of the 1930s and headed to Morocco.
A t l a n t i c O c e a n
e a n M e r a n d i t e r
S e a
A post-Kerouac wave of thrill seekers had come to Tangier for decades, looking for exactly what the guides were selling.
Two hours later, the ferry pulled into the port of Tangier. Above the harbor, and to the right, the tight medina and its medieval walls hugged a slope caked in houses of mud and concrete. To the left, the new city extended behind the medina down the beach, stocked with hotels at every stage of construction: foundations flanked by cranes, iron skeletons clothed with scaffolding, shiny twenty storied buildings with neon signs, and derelict hulks ready for demolition. The Europeans hadn’t made it to the beach yet but dozens of little boys in swim suits teased the surf, running in zigzags, watched by mothers covered from head to toe in black, and fathers wearing suits in the hot sun. Near a sea wall protecting the harbor, small fishing boats with young men working plastic rods lay anchored, bobbing in the seawater. Once out of the port, I was mobbed by drug dealers and “guides,” walking scumbags who offered me everything from hotels to hash to whores. I hated the attention from the hawkers, but it was difficult to pass judgment. A post-Kerouac wave of thrill seekers had come to Tangier for decades, looking for exactly what the guides were selling. Like horseflies, they patrolled every inch along the main strip, the Avenue d’Espagne, so numerous and incessant that I couldn’t stop, let alone unfold a map, without being devoured. After twenty minutes of walking with my back to the sea, the hustlers disappeared. Yellow delivery trucks and old Mercedes cabs whipped by, slowing only for the giant roundabouts that fed into four or five connecting streets. Short wrinkled men dressed in brown and black djellabas sat on café patios drinking tea with their hoods down. Women walked wearing pink, black, blue or yellow hijabs in and out of electronics stores, butcher shops, and banks. Dust swirled as cars and trikes passed around fifty-foot wide Parisian roundabouts. I stopped at the first landmark that matched up to my cheap map, a bus station marked by a dirt patch and about a hundred young men dressed in tight European t-shirts carrying plastic bags, duffel bags, backpacks and boxes. I had strayed from the medina,
gated the wide river, sending olive-oil as close as Italy and as far as Trader Joe’s. Outside the train station in Algeciras, streetlights broke the darkness of the night, illuminating grey apartment blocks. Disoriented in the dark, it took a while to find Hotel Lisboa, where I had booked a room the night before. The sounds of trucks on the highway and the illuminated cranes in the port reminded of other transit cities like El Paso, Juarez, Hong Kong and Shenzhen, where any number of things could happen. By noon the next day, I stood on the third deck of the ferry with a ham sand-
n spring break, I left my study abroad program in Córdoba, Spain, and headed south by train towards Tangier, Morocco, the birthplace of my father Alberto and the former home of his parents, both of whom had died before I was born. Grandma Sol died from cancer in Tangier when my father was seven. By the time Grandpa Giuseppe died twenty years later, my father had followed him all the way to New York, only to leave home, become a hippie, and settle in the West. Armed with a map of the city’s walled medina, a small black ski-boot bag of clothes, and my tattered brown journal, my plan was to discover as much as I could about the African echoes of my family’s past. At best, I hoped to find a relative of my grandmother’s, her grave, or some other physical sign of her existence. At the very least, I yearned to walk the same street that my family had walked fifty years before. First, I’d have to spend a night in the small port town of Algeciras, which sent daily ferries across the strait of Gibraltar to Tangier. Preparing for the trip, I failed to recruit any of my fellow study-abroad students, or any Spanish students for that matter, who by then were lounging on the beaches of the Costa del Sol. I sat alone, reviewing my journal for the few clues that my father had told me. Grandma’s full name was Sol Pinto Attanasio, her parents were Albert and Sara Pinto. She had an October birthday (he didn’t know the day), and died in 1960. She gave birth to my father in Tangier’s Spanish Hospital. Grandpa Giuseppe had worked in the Italian consulate. The red Andalusian mesas and bluffs whisked past the train window. The dry hills reminded me of my home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Going south, the train approached the 35th degree of northern latitude which transects both Santa Fe and Tangier. Rows of irrigation ditches split valleys of the Andalusian Plain. Olive orchards paved the red hills with rows of sage green. In Spanish, ditches are called acequias, from the Arabic sāqiyah. The Guadalquivir River, which the train line followed, connected Spain’s olive-growing region to the Mediterranean Sea. Since Roman times, ships have navi-
and tried to get there without retracing my steps through the swarm of guides. A few hours and three miles later, I found myself on an undeveloped knoll of dirt and grass. Muslim graves scattered across this hill. Could one of these belong to Sol? I doubted it. As a Sephardic—an Iberian or North African Jew—her grave probably sat in a Jewish cemetery. Below, the south side of the medina looked inviting, its rock wall opening up at a bab—a large gate—through which donkeys, motorcycles and the occasional rusty Renault passed freely. The first break in the narrow road was the Petit Soco, the little market, a wide and uneven patch of cobblestone with shops running along the edges. At the café on the uphill side I ordered mint tea, sweetened with more honey than a bee hive. Later, my father told me that he had lived in an apartment above the Petit Soco, from which he watched a weekly donkey market. In Desolation Angels, Kerouac recounts a visit the same square, at the same time that my father lived there. He called it by the Spanish name, the Zoco Chico. “We’d just picked us up over desultory coffees in the Zoco Chico with a man in a red fez whom [Burroughs] confidently accused (to me) of causing hepatitis […]. With an old olive can, with a hole in it, another hole for the mouth, we stuffed raw red opium in the well hole and got it lit and inhaled huge blue gobs of opium smoke.” 15 19
Across the street
, the Pension Mauritania offered me a small single room with a terrace overlooking the Soco for 50 dirham per night, or about five Euros. A receptionist named Hassan spoke Spanish, which he studied from a worn textbook at the front desk of the hotel. This stocky fellow was my age—22—and after chatting for an hour about Castilian, women, and Israeli politics, I felt that I had at least one friend on the continent. At dusk I crawled back into the street, bought a sandwich stuffed with french-fries, beef sausage, olives, sprouts, carrots and lettuce, and brought it back to my terrace. The temperature was perfect and the city alive. Orange clouds drifted overhead past the waxing moon and I could see a planet shining to the south. Was it Venus? The next day I woke up late. Hassan wasn’t at the front desk, but he popped out of a backroom carrying a prayer rug. “Praying?” I said. “Yes,” he replied, with a smile. “You pray every day?” “Of course, I am a Muslim.” “How about Friday mass? You go to that?” “No, I can’t, I have work, so I pray here.” Then, he asked me questions. I explained that I was from New Mexico and normally studied in Vermont, but now studied in Spain. We chatted about his mother, with whom he lived on the northern edge of the medina. Two of his friends came to visit him at work. Like most Moroccan youth, they spoke French and Arabic, but
The temperature was perfect and the city alive. Orange clouds drifted overhead past the waxing moon, and I could see a planet shining to the south. 20
not Spanish. The first one, a man with glasses and styled black hair, didn’t speak. The other, a woman with deep brown eyes and a Playboy logo t-shirt, had just come from class at the local University. She spoke so fast in Arabic that I wondered if even Hassan could understand her. She asked why I had come to Tangier, and Hassan was happy, and perhaps even proud, to translate. When I told these three Muslims that my grandmother was Sephardic, an Arab Jew, they delighted at my Moroccan connection. After his friends left, Hassan offered to take me out. “Tomorrow you come to my house and my mother will prepare you dinner. Then I show you the medina,” he said. I agreed At 7 a.m., I walked through the medina. I wanted to see the labyrinth at day time in the event that my evening plans with Hassan turned sour. On the northern side of the medina, near where Hassan’s mother lived, the wall opened up to a panoramic view of the port and the sea. Across the strait, a thick strip of black and grey marked Spain. Hassan had friends in Madrid. They made up a handful of the thousands of migrants from Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa that crossed into Spain each year. The modern Fascists across Europe called Muslim immigration an invasion, a reenactment of the Islamic conquests when armies of Arabs and Bedouins crossed to Spain to conquer the Visigoth kingdom in 711 B.C. And if they were invaders, they were armed with mops, brooms, and cloaked in the social invisibility of nightshifts and strange accents. On the map, the old Italian Consulate looked close. I continued down the edge of the Kasbah, up Rue Assad Ibn al Farrat, to a busy public hospital. Guards in dull tan uniforms blew whistles directing human and vehicular traffic through the green metal gates. Moroccans went in and out. Some waited on crutches, while others exited wearing head bandages or carrying plastic bags marked “Rx.” The old Italian Consulate lay on the other side of the street, unmarked and abandoned, with a high iron gate and the grotesque remains of a call box. As I looked at the slate roof, the two large horseshoe arches on the second floor,
Pharmacies in Morocco carry the Islamic Crescent but are universally known by their French name pharmacie. Most pharmacists still go to France for their education.
and the French doors at the entrance on the ground floor. Drawing on old photograph’s, I imagined a black-and-white image of my young 1950s grandfather, in his starched navy uniform carrying a briefcase. My grandfather worked at the Consulate as the military attaché to the ambassador. A communications chief, he worked for the intelligence. My father once told me that he spied on the Russians in a US-led surveillance effort, spending weeks on fishing boats in the Aegean. I peered through the bars, across a large abandoned parkway, toward the two-story white building on the other side. I continued to search for tangible signs of my grandparents. On the other side of the medina in the new city, I found a large white synagogue. I waited in the empty entry chamber while men prayed in Hebrew in the next room. The first person I saw, a solitary white man with a blue yarmulke, didn’t speak English or Spanish. He sent out his nephew, a pale teenager
with thick glasses. It was obvious from their pale complexion that these were European, Ashkenazi Jews, and that I might not be as welcome as I had hoped. “I am doing genealogical research on my Jewish grandmother, do you know of any Sephardic cemeteries or cemetery records?” I asked. “I am sorry, but it is Passover, and we are very busy,” said the boy, with a face that wondered if I even knew what Passover was. I felt ashamed of my ignorance. “Maybe come back next week,” he said motioning subtly towards the door. Back in the medina, I figured I might as well do some shopping. Peddlers of handicrafts and factory-made trinkets dominated the alleyways, while producers and vendors lined the wider streets. Compared to the guides on the beach, they were incredibly respectful. One young man who sold me a leather belt after a friendly round of haggling put it this way: 21
“Those guys on the beach, they make us look bad. They lie, they cheat, and then no one wants to buy anything.” I met Hassan at the Mauritania later that evening, and we walked up the hill to his mother’s house on the northern side of the medina. A gateway in the ancient wall opened to a view of the strait, the same one I had seen that morning, but dotted with lights along the coast of Spain. Hassan’s mother greeted us with a white gaptoothed grin. She was wrinkled, dark-skinned, and wore a black smock with a rose-patterned hijab. I didn’t ask about Hassan’s father. Together we ate oily fried fish, a yellow dish of garbanzo beans, and unleavened flatbread.
At the souq (market) in Marrakesh. Traditionally, souqs are sub-divided into smaller sections, each selling their distinct genre of goods. Several alleys might be devoted soley to fabric, silverware, or fruit, for example. 18 22
he next day, determined to find a physical record of my grandmother, I found the Spanish Hospital where my father was born. I wasn’t allowed inside, but I loitered around the entrance and took a photo of the sign outside. I had found the hospital, but I still couldn’t see my grandmother’s medical records. I bummed around the beach. At a staircase that connected the beach to the boardwalk, I ran into a group of teenagers doing parkour, a type of street gymnastics, like skateboarding without the skateboard. They did handstands on pillars and executed spectacular jumps over the stairs. I juggled rocks for them, which sent them into a frenzy. They spoke English, and wanted to know everything about America, the land of motocross and Vin Diesel. Back with Hassan at the Mauritania, I remembered a conversation with my father about tracing my grandmother’s maiden name, “Pinto.” “There are too many, like probably sixty families” he had told me. I asked Hassan for a phone book. Considering how little I had found in the past few days, I thought it might be worth a try. We scanned the equivalent of the White Pages, and found Pinto. There was only one. I dialed and a woman answered. I spoke in Spanish, figuring that if they only spoke Arabic we already had a deal breaker for meeting. “Hello, I’m looking for Señor Pinto, is he available?” I said. “No, he’s out of town, on business,” she said. I explained that my grandmother was a
The author’s grandmother, Sol, in front of the their house in Tangier, circa. 1935
Pinto, and that my father was born in Tangier. “Are you folks—Sephardic?” “Yes, yes we are.” She told me to call back later, when her husband had returned and explained that yes, most of the Sephardic had immigrated to Israel. I tried back a few times but never got Mr. Pinto on the phone. He existed though, and his wife existed, and that was enough for me. Unlike the Ashkenazim at the temple, he had spoken with me long enough to confirm that my grandmother’s family existed outside of my father’s mind and a few blotchy photographs. On my last day I checked out of the Mauritania and said goodbye to Hassan. I slung my bag over my shoulder and made my way towards the American Consulate Museum at the western entrance of the medina. As with the Italian Consulate, diplomatic functions had moved to the new capital in Rabat. Still, the Americans kept it up, because it was the first Americanowned building outside the US. On my way out, I asked one of the guards if he knew of a Sephardic cemetery. 23
“Yes, right down the alley, just outside the walls,” he said. Outside, I circled the cemetery, which spanned a couple of blocks and was enclosed on all sides by a nine-foot whitewashed wall. A green hut with signs in Arabic and Hebrew marked the entrance, locked by a chain. With a few more days on my hands, I might have found out the visiting hours or conned my way in, but I had to leave.
struggled to measure the success of my trip. I hadn’t found a long-lost relative or a navy buddy of my father’s. I hadn’t made it into any of the places I’d meant to see, nor did I encounter my grandmother’s grave. I scanned through the pictures that I had taken for him: the Italian Consulate, the Spanish Hospital, the Soco Chico, the rock of Gibraltar. Maybe I if I showed them to my father I’d tap into memories he hadn’t shared with me. At the port, I searched for a ferry ticket. Of the five or so ferry companies, none of them were offering tickets for 40 euros or less, the price I paid coming from Spain. Frustrated, I tried to find the passport stamping office. A jittery hustler intercepted me, shoving a customs form in my face and demanding he help me complete it. Perhaps because of the innocence of the scam—he wasn’t selling me hash or trying to be my guide for the weekend—I caved easily. As I finished the form, the hustler tried to lure in a man walking away from a white van. “No, Uncle, I don’t need your help, fuck,” he said in Spanish with a thick Zaragozan accent. He wore loose-fitting pants and a handmade Moroccan shirt; unbuttoned, showing is tanned skin and muscular frame. A spice vendor on a street in Marrakesh. Ginger, cumin, and saffron are all staples of Moroccan cooking.
Colorado River Basin “You crossing, Uncle? You bought a ferry ticket?” he asked me. I learned “uncle” was the Spanish equivalent of “dude.” “One can bargain anything here, Uncle.” The Spaniard, Sergio, led me to the white van, a hollowed-out bread delivery truck from Zaragoza. We lined up with the other cars. Sergio manned the wheel, trying to hustle up the line, chatting up the customs officers. I sat silently, trying to reflect on the past few days in Tangier, but my thoughts were interrupted at customs. I pulled back a mattress sheet in the back of the van, revealing layer upon layer of brightly colored textiles. I laughed. Sergio finished with customs, rolled up the windows, and looked back at me with his victorious grin. “I don’t like to pay the tariff,” he said. “I take these to the stores in Spain and make myself enough money, maybe come back to
Morocco for three months after.” We crossed the border and drove towards Marbella, where I would meet my distant relatives, the former Spanish exiles. I thought of my dad, who was Sergio’s age when he left my grandfather’s house in New York and moved into a school bus in Montana, traveling to communes and Rainbow Gatherings. In the back of the van, the music poured out of the speakers. Large jugs of olive oil sat on the floor, next to cartons of fresh vegetables and stacks of Moroccan bread. Small town Moroccan olive presses didn’t completely separate the meat from the oil. Pieces of olive meat drifted around the bottles, giving the oil had a tinge of Kalamata taste. I tore off a strip of Moroccan bread, soaked it in olive oil, and savored the taste of the olive-flesh silt.
Ducking out of the heat of the alleyways and into a carpet shop.
An experiential travelogue 26
Tim O’Grady 23
Bordeaux, France do
wn th e
Is po tte
In the Jardin Public I drank cheap wine and ate brunch with a friend in late April. A small, puzzled child approached me and asked, “Papa?”. He cried then ran back to his parents disappointed. Ro m
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t La Ru e S
shopping arcade, typically found in Paris. b Bordeaux’s famous “mascarons” adorn stately buildings -
representing prominent merchants and their loved ones.
a The Galerie Bordelaise is a 19th century
n e n o a r
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swerving between bikers, skaters , and ca Garonne, sual w ong the l a g alke in Jogg rs
p e ’s ne: Euro
d Fresh coats of paint brighten up the façades
c Perhaps Bordeaux’s most iconic landmark, “Place de la Bourse”
destrian largest pe
ping for Grocery shop in France the first time lk not why is the mi refrigerated?
of the city’s oldest stone buildings.
highlights the city’s 18th century commercial prosperity.
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Place de la Victoire la
f A rollerblader weaves in between cones along
the riverside esplanade.
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Preceding page: View of Saint-André Cathedral from the adjacent Pey-Berland tower 28
e During the day, L’Apollo’s bright patio furniture attracts
coffee lovers, but at night the café transforms into a hip bar. 29
PETER COCCOMA WITNESSES THE REVOLUTION
IN HAVANA WITH A 35MM CAMERA 26 30
LIFE IN HAVANA is undergoing a
quiet transformation these days. After decades of state control, Raul Castro (brother of Fidel) has reformed property laws for the first time since the 1959 revolution, allowing Cuban citizens to buy and sell property on the private market. The younger Castro brother has also moved 300,000 people off the state payroll and into private enterprise, letting Cubans buy and sell DVDs and kitchen tools on the streets. Outside the city, private farmers are now permitted to lease up to 165 acres of land to cultivate for themselves. None of these reforms, however, are meant to change the fundamentally socialist nature of the Cuban state. Advertisements are entirely absent from the Havana cityscape. Education and medical care for the entire population are still free. Food is still rationed. And perhaps most indicative of all, Cubans are required to demonstrate in support of socialism, as seen in these photographs, taken on the “50th Anniversary of Socialism March” on April 16, 2011.
REVOLUTION Hundreds of thousands of Cubans take to the streets to march for the 50th anniversary of “El Socialismo” and to show their support for the Castro regime. This day also coincided with a celebration of the victory at the Bay of Pigs. Different segments of society gather under their own banners: above, young cadets in the Cuban Army prepare to march.
PRECEDING PAGES: School children are instructed to run at various points in the demonstrations. 26
GETTING AROUND A school bus in Havana. In addition to the classic pre-1960 American cars that are ubiqitous in the country, old cars and buses from the former Soviet Union make up a large segment of the Cuban transportation system. As with houses, car ownership was controlled by the state until 2010, when Cubans could begin buying and selling cars among themselves.
VIVA FIDEL Crowds in Havana hold signs depicting Fidel Castro with the requisite propaganda. The sign above quotes Castro saying, “...here I became a revolutionary.”
CRUMBLING CITY University students march past crumbling buildings
in the downtown area of Vedado. Many of Havana’s architectural jewels have fallen into disrepair, as a lack of privately-held money has allowed the island’s naturally tropical climate to take its toll on colonial-era buildings. This may change with the new housing-ownership laws, which quite literally created overnight wealth for Cubans fortunate enough to own property.
OLD CHEESE SOLD HERE: Understanding the Country Store TYLER NELSON
here is a deep satisfaction to slicing into forty pound wheel of sharp cheddar cheese. Cutting off the exact amount a customer has asked for doesn’t happen every time, but when the digital scale reads precisely 1.00 lb, the workday feels a little more fulfilling. For the past four years, I have sharpened my cheese-cutting skills at the Old Country Store. Since 1781 the yellow wooden store has served the town of Moultonborough, New Hampshire. Today it is the oldest continuously operating store in the United States, and still one of only a cluster of buildings in the downtown, near the north tip of Lake Winnipesaukee. There have been a couple of additions over the years, and plenty of coats of paint, but its main structure has remained unchanged since the Revolutionary War. It has been a post office, a meetinghouse, a stagecoach stop, a residence, and an ice cream stand, but it has always served as a country store. It is a place so solidly rooted that it can be fluid at the same time, constantly adapting as the conditions around it also change. The Old Country Store has thrived even as the traditional model has become obsolete. Some may be unable to hide their disdain for such obvious “selling out” to the tourist market, trading authenticity for tacky nostalgia—and it is true that there are a lot of offensively useless trinkets and souvenirs for sale. But this is the new tradition, and it has
36 36 32
a charm of its own. A modern country store must be able to please the ninety year old woman who hasn’t seen Blackjack Chewing Gum since she was a kid, as well as the soccer mom buying her entire extended family moose-themed T-shirts they don’t really need. There is perhaps not even a fine line between “authentic” and “kitschy,” and the hybrid identity of The Old Country Store is in fact its strength. There is something beautifully American about the way each cheap Chinesemade kitchen utensil is still hand priced, how wires of fluorescent light bulbs twist along ancient rough-hewn beams, and how gaudy plastic bug-zappers are stacked next to the old (and very functional) pot-bellied stove. It is undoubtedly a tourist trap, but one with a counter made out of wide-cut boards held together with square nails and worn concave by countless transactions. It is cheesy both because of its blatant commercialism and because of its prized aged cheddar, which sits in a vintage glass case. It is what the fabled country store has evolved into through survival of the fittest, and an outlet for our society’s obsession with remembering an unobtainable history. When the cast of characters standing in line includes casually attired presidential candidates and weathered backwoods locals, you know the cheese must be aged to perfection.
PEOPLE IN PLACE
Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem, Israel (David Yedid) 40
Cape Town, South Africa (Amanda Warren)
Umayyad Mosque, Damascus, Syria (Sam Wyer)
El Caminito, Buenos Aires, Argentina (Isabel Shaw)
Rural village outside Aligarh, India (Harriet Napier)
Golan Heights, Israel (David Yedid)
Garip, Istanbul, Turkey (Sydney Alfonso)
Hypocrisy of the
Los Angeles, CA Hawaii
P a c i fi c O c e a n
American Samoa !
BY BOWEN BURDITT
y plane finished its slow arc around the world and touched down on a deep-
green inverse-gash of an island rising out of the South Pacific. Embarking on an internship to conduct an Assessment of Climate-Related Knowledge and Socioeconomic Vulnerabilities on the Island of Aunu’u, American Samoa, I expected all on the island territory to brand me—a 21-year-old college student with a background in environmental studies—as a bleeding heart
Cape of Good Hope, South Africa (Kyle Hunter) 38 48
environmentalist. What I did not expect was my realization of the gross inefficiency and 49
(I have to admit) selfishness involved in going halfway across the world to inform people of an issue caused in part by the very place I had travelled from. A brief outline of what brought me to American Samoa might highlight my conundrum more vividly. An internship with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) allowed me opportunities in any of their offices across all 50 states and territories. Being young, from the northeast, and prone to travel-lust (readers of this magazine can hopefully identify), I sent out my appeals to places like Seattle, Alaska, and American Samoa. When the job in American Samoa came up, the temptation of working in a tropical paradise and helping a community gauge and better deal with the effects of climate change was too much to resist. Arriving on the island I got exactly what I bargained for: the jungle was thick, the air was hot, the waves were glassy, and the dogs were mean. What I didn’t bargain for, however, was questioning the value of my very presence in the place I was sent to help. This realization was first hinted at when I, along with three fellow interns, spoke to a particularly jaded national park worker.
My round-trip flight alone produced more pounds of CO2 than the entire island would in a month. Upon hearing about the brevity of our nineweek stay, he pointed out that for the price of our plane tickets (over $2,000 round trip), they could have hired someone locally to stop poaching and illegal construction in the national park. Though his appraisal ignored 50
A plane touches down over water in the island nation of the Maldives. Like American Samoa, environmental protection is essential for the surival of its vulnerable natural landscapes.
the inflexibility of government funding and also assumed my fellow interns and I would do less important work, his observation simultaneously created a new lens of self-awareness through which I saw the beautiful island and the role we visitors played on it. We loved the empty beaches (which keep the reefs stay so pristine!), but blamed the lack of tourism on the local disinterest in the landscape—it’s difficult to protect what you don’t see. We bemoaned local disinterest in the water (can you believe that most Samoans don’t swim?) while working to make many “damaging” fishing practices illegal. We celebrated the preservation of traditional village values while decrying the nepotism in local government that was a natural consequence. We spoke of the
lack of a local presence in conservation jobs, while we ourselves held those very positions. I talked to the 400 residents of Aunu’u about the importance of carpooling and the environmental harms of burning their trash, while my round-trip flight alone produced more pounds of CO2 than the entire island would in a month. Hypocrisy lay in every corner of Tutuila, and I didn’t see a way to fix it. Truth be told, I still don’t. Am I prepared to forgo the opportunity to see beautiful places, meet interesting people and be welcomed into their community because my presence there is more environmentally taxing than my absence? Despite my ramblings, I think the answer is no. And for a majority of like-minded Middlebury students, I think that despite
our best intention, the answer is no as well (and they don’t get the self-gratification of writing an article of apology). When will environmental inequality outweigh ambition and adventure? For the more noble and self-sacrificing among us, that day may have already come. But for myself and many I know, the prospect of making an active difference outweighs the notion that perhaps a greater impact could come from being passive. Working locally is an idea championed by the environmental movement, though obtaining and experiencing a global perspective is equally lauded, and so much more appealing for me. Here is to hoping that I can green my wanderlust without regretting missed opportunities. Is there such thing as a worldtraveling environmentalist? Let’s hope so. 51
Pinhole of Pulp Mill Bridge
Alaskan Salmon (Elma Burnham) 52
Editor in Chief:
Managing Editor: Alex
Isabel Shaw Tim Oâ€™Grady
Advisors: Jeff Howarth, Geography Department Lyn DeGraff, Reprographics
Alex Jackman Carly Fink Sophia Perlman
Join the Adventure!
Sponsors: Student Government Association Geography Department
If you enjoyed this issue and would like to be a part of the next edition, please e-mail us at email@example.com Check us out online at: go.middlebury.edu/middgeog
Aerial Photo (Alix Bickson) 54
Back cover: Jama Masjid Mosque, Delhi, India (Harriet Napier) 55
Middlebury Geographic Fall 2011