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Winter 2010

Photo by Andrew Podrygula, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA


Geographic Winter 2010

Celine Lim


A Legacy of Harm

Tim O’Grady


Mental Mapping

Vedika Khanna


Dubai and the Desert

Catarina Campbell


Foreign Self in My Native Country

Shorts 4 17 28

On Sheep’s Head Peninsula, Ireland Personal Experiences along the Al Khael An Adopted Brazilian in Brazil

Photo Essays Notes on a Train

Carson Dietz Hartmann


Pinhole Photography


The Israeli Conflict:


MAlt Community Photography


Peter Spyrou

Paradoxes of Life in West Borneo’s Rainforest Rhiya Trivedi


Texaco-Chevron Trial in Ecuador

Mapping an Island Alison DeGraff

Around Middlebury, Vermont Oakley Jackson Tradition and Modernity Sophia Perlman Masaya, Nicaragua Quan Pham

Cover Photo by Jake Moritz, Patagonia, Chile

This is the confluence of the Baker and Neff Rivers in Patagonia, Chile. The Aisen Region of Chile is currently threatened by industrial damming projects that would destroy thousands of acres of pristine wilderness and damage local populations culturally and economically. For more information on Patagonia Sin Represas, visit: www.thepatagonianfoundation.org

Photo by Meaghen Brown, Missoula, Montana, USA


Middlebury Geographic has reached its third year, and we are thrilled to bring you more of the independent research, scholarly work, and global expeditions that the students at Middlebury College undertake each year. The pages of this journal serve as evidence of our peer’s curiosity and initiative in seeking out new experiences. They define social and environmental issues and reflect on our place in what can sometimes feel like an increasingly volatile world. In this issue, we cast our net wide: from the bridge over the Otter Creek in Middlebury, to an Irish peninsula, and onwards to the rainforests of Borneo. We hear about voyages by boat, by foot, and in rattling train cars, as well as those journeys we take in our minds, exploring the meaning of place and connecting memory, experience and environment. Inspired by National Geographic, Wired, and J.B. Jackson’s Landscape, Middlebury Geographic combines quality journalism with narrative photography and creative cartography. Each feature article, short, and photo essay brings with it the unique perspective and insight of our fellow students. We hope that the following words and images capture your attention and provide new insight into a small part of our very large planet. Enjoy the journey! Sincerely, Peter Spyrou, Alison DeGraff & Sam Dawson The Team: Elianna Kan, Andrea Jones, Roman Mardoyan-Smyth, Meaghen Brown, Kyle Hunter, Tim O’Grady, Sophia Perlman, Andrew Podrygula, Noah Brautigam, Isabel Shaw, Alex Geller, Hannah Judge, and Claire Lewandowski

Photo by Oakley Jackson, Middlebury, Vermont, USA

Pinhole of Middlebury Falls on Otter Creek (Photographer’s Statement: pg. 46–47)


Photo by Andrew Podrygula, West-Central North Dakota, USA

Notes on a Train Carson Dietz Hartmann


here is a man in front of me telling a story about the first time he tasted horse meat. A woman is playing games on her cell phone, drinking beer out of a coffee cup while reading the two-week old newspaper she picked up at the last stop. A man dressed in suspenders and an autumnfoliage-themed shirt plays cards with his wife, her face reflected in his aviator glasses as he smiles a bucktooth grin. As we pass through the plains of Montana, black hills loom in front of cumulous clouds that appear like pillows you want to dive into. Along the tracks are scattered settlements, lines of hay bales along barbed wire fences, oil rigs pumping up and down. A park ranger—Trails on Rails—sits in the lounge car and narrates the Montanan landscape, telling us about the Native American sun dances she has attended, about God’s gifts to the earth and about Lewis, Clark, and the old frontier.


Only a couple of months ago as summer began, I was on the same train, riding in the opposite direction from Middlebury to Seattle. Two days ago, I decided to take it back to Vermont with a schoolmate. I was hesitant to leave home earlier than necessary on an adventure. But ultimately, I decided this was a good choice: riding the train makes the

Seattle, WA AMTRAK

Carson’s Amtrak Route

Notes on a Train

transition back to school easier. I would ease into the cross-coastal differences and watch the landscape transition. This voyage becomes an exercise in patience as I go to sleep to a flat prairie sunset and awake to a flat prairie sunrise. I feel like I am getting nowhere fast. I sit and stare at the scenery outside the train’s windows for hours, like watching a television screen. On my first train ride, from Seattle to San Francisco, I spied a woman out the window staring blankly into a field of dirt. You wonder what has happened in the lives of the people outside, what in their day has inspired them to take a break and stare at their landscape. It is difficult to understand as you speed by. You wonder about people’s stories, inside and outside the train. Walking back to my seat from the bathroom through a narrow aisle way, I catch a glimpse of a mother and her baby cuddled in blankets, a girl with every inch of her hair woven with beads. There are many excuses for my mind to wander into these people’s lives—many small windows into foreign worlds that I cannot help but contemplate.


The greater community of a train is twice the size of a domestic flight and is built of many types of people. Generally, the folks who decide to take a train have time to kill. This sifts out people in a hurry and people with serious matters to attend to. Passengers are patient and mostly on the train for the experience, rather than the convenience factor of crossing the country on rails. I spend most of my time on the train occupying a booth in the lounge car, a prime location for both inside and outside observation as there are large windows and a variety of seating arrangements. A man is seated in front of me with a circular scar around his eye, sporting a salt and pepper beard, sunglasses, a tie-dye T-shirt, and a hat that says Alaska-Denali. I cannot see much of his face. I watch him as he chooses to sit down across from a mother and her 10-yearold child. They begin to converse. It is rare to see this sort of interaction—these sorts of obscure pairings—outside a narrow train car. Passengers make friends with each other quickly and exercise patience with one



Rutland, VT Albany, NY

Minneapolis, MN LA K




Photo by Carson Dietz Hartmann, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Notes on a Train another. What else do this woman and her staring curiously at me for awhile as I child have to do besides listen? recited Arabic vocabulary words with a You can eat a meal on the train in a friend. After a day or two, he and his family compact dining car, complete with waiters disappeared or “detrained,” in Amtrak and white table clothes. The servers perform a jargon. The train community constantly balancing act as the train rocks back and forth morphs. Glimpses into people’s lives appear to transfer hot plates from the kitchen to the and disappear like fish jumping from the deep table. My favorite aspect of dining is the water; one second, a surprise and the next company you receive. The mission of the second, they have plunged away. dining car is to fill as many seats as One day, the train rolls to a stop at possible therefore you may not have a seat to eight in the morning and an hour later, the yourself. I have shared the company of a conductor announces a three-hour delay. The variety of characters, including ex-cons, train sits in the same spot for those three farmers, Australians, wanderlust teenage hours and I begin to feel trapped without the girls, and grandparents. Passengers are always moving scenery. Earlier in the trip I overheard willing to talk to you; to reveal certain parts a woman explaining that the train allowed too of their lives. All it takes is a leading many smoke breaks, and that we would be question—the right question—and you may an hour and fifteen minutes late into Albany have a life story poured out onto your plate. because of the number of smokers. A more The limited space of the train feels plausible reason for Amtrak’s notorious comfortable, not claustrophobic, and I tardiness is the stops that are necessary to let almost feel at home in the continuous freight trains pass. Amtrak rents 70 percent landscape of cars. Change of any sort can be of the rails they use from freight companies, surprising. New folk join the train cabin whose schedules take precedence over my and there is suddenly more to notice and desire for scenery. to consider. On my most recent trip, Delays are sometimes caused by an Amish family boarded somewhere accidents. The train will hit a pedestrian on in Minnesota, riding until Winoa,Wisconsin. the track or on the sidewalk. A crossing block They added variation to what had will malfunction and the train will collide been a consistent community of with a car. Or a person turns suicidal and passengers since Minot, North Dakota. walks down the tracks until the train comes. We crossed paths in the dining car when the Twice I have been on a train that has father asked me where I was from, after hit and killed a pedestrian. Both times, a somber, three-hour delay. People pulled out their cell phones to call home and complained, uncharacteristically for the train, that they would be late. Both times I occupied myself for three hours thinking about the conductor. He saw everything: the man in the distance and then the collision. He blew his whistle three times, even pulled the emergency break but at a certain point, as he waits for the inevitable collision, he becomes fully conscious of the forthcoming death. One conductor told this to me at stop in

Photo by Andrew Podrygula, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA

Notes on a Train

The Little Missouri River Valley cuts through the rolling hills of the Badlands, in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Minneapolis on my first cross-country train ride in the winter of 2009. There were a lot of silences as he sucked on his cigarette and told me he did not want to see anything like that again, but that it was likely he would. If I had to ride the train across the country, would I still study in Vermont? If there were no planes? Maybe not. Trains make the distance between Seattle and Middlebury tangible; the continent feels like a real continent with mountains to ascend, rivers to cross and empty plains to cut through. Hours on a train draw out the distance from A to B, and fill in the space with the variation

that lies between. Traveling by train integrates it all. Staring out the window of a train allows you to see that mountains lead to the sea and to prairies, that Wisconsin farmland transitions into the counties of New York State and that there are no lines in chalk between Montana and North Dakota. I see one ecosystem fall into the next and fit together, a contradiction to the notion that places are somehow incongruous with one another. I suppose it is comforting to recognize that no matter the distance in between the places, there is always a path —or rail—home. MG


by c e l i n e


Photo by Mitchell Anderson, Amazon Watch Achuar Territory, Corrientes River, Peru


Toxic contamination near the Jibarito base of oil Block 1-AB in the Corrientes River, proof of the failed cleanup by Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum and Argentina’s Pluspetrol

dispatch from the



Legacy of Harm


t was 8:00 A.M. in Lago Agrio, a small province in Ecuador, and hundreds of campesinos were huddled under the awning of a grocery store, trying to stay dry in one of the heaviest rains of the season. The day marked the unfolding of the Texaco-Chevron trial, in which 30,000 Ecuadorians took the United States’ second largest energy company to court for its polluting operations in the Amazon. “The forest is crying, crying for all those years of injustice,” cried Luis Yanza, the passionate campesino leader of a regional grassroots organization for indigenous communities known as La Frente de Defensa de la Amazonia. This lawsuit is a testament to the struggles of indigenous communities across the Amazonian countries. While the big oil story of the moment is the Gulf Oil Spill which took the media by storm, Amazonian indigenous communities have suffered a constant leakage of oil on their land, unnoticed. In the Ecuadorian and Peruvian Amazon, oil companies have created an environmental disaster that has claimed the health and livelihoods of numerous indigenous communities, instead of returning the rewards of their resourcerich land. For indigenous peoples, the security of property rights is essential to physical and cultural integrity as well as economic and social survival. Land and resource rights are fundamental to upholding world views and spirituality and the identity as a viable cultural community. Undeniably, the intrusion of corporations on indigenous territories —with the permission of governments— severely violates these rights.

Extractive activities threaten the survival of the Amazonian community, an “indispensable knowledge bank” without whose knowledge and experience the sustainable development of the Amazon basin would be hard to achieve. The high-profile Texaco-Chevron case in Ecuador embodies the injustice that indigenous peoples have suffered. After three decades of drilling, nearly seventeen million gallons of crude oil had been spilled into the forest. By the time of its merger with Chevron, Texaco had left hundreds of toxic waste pits and at least 627 open, unlined oil sludge pits scattered near local communities, rivers and streams. Poisonous chemicals seeped into forest soils, groundwater and rivers, killing fish, livestock and food crops and making water unsafe to drink. The infrastructure developed for the project—nearly 300 miles of road carved into untouched forests—caused the destruction of nearly 2.5 million acres of rainforest while the systematic contamination of the Ecuadorian Amazon left tens of thousands of indigenous people suffering from an epidemic of cancer, miscarriages, birth defects and other ailments. In San Carlos, a study revealed that the risk of all cancers in the population was 2.3 times the expected rate, and the risk of miscarriages among the women who lived near the oil production wells was 2.5 times higher than where there were no oil operations. It is difficult to deny the clear link between oil operations and the health crisis in the region. In reaction to these strong accusations, Texaco-Chevron executed bold but empty defensive moves. It claimed to be the victim of a massive misinformation campaign in


Legacy of Harm the BP Gulf spill. In neighboring Peru, indigenous voices resound with the same grievances: the infringement of land and resource rights has left them mired in a long, drawn-out battle for dignity. Situated along the Corrientes, Pastaza, and Morona rivers, Achuar land sits on some of the western Amazon’s most lucrative oil reserves. Irresponsible Operations of Occidental Petroleum and Argentina’s Pluspetrol have resulted in almost nine billion barrels of highly toxic by-products being dumped in the forest. While companies violate international standards and laws, the Achuar indigenous communities have paid the cost Photo by Mitchell Anderson, Amazon Watch Kuyuntsa Community, Manchari River, Peru

which facts were twisted and scientific information ignored. In a peer-reviewed study of government mortality data, Texaco claimed that “cantons (municipalities) with long-term oil extraction activities were similar, or lower, compared to those without such activities for overall mortality, overall cancer, circulatory disease, infectious disease, and respiratory diseases,” entirely contrary to the evidence of the carcinogenic terrors suffered by the indigenous Ecuadorian population. Today, after seventeen years of litigation, the oil giant continues to fight tooth and nail to evade responsibility for an oil-related disaster more devastating than

An Achuar Apu (chief ) in the community of Kuyuntsa in the Northern Peruvian Amazon The Apus of more than 40 Achuar communities traveled for days by foot and on river to participate in a community assembly to discuss the future of their people. The red face paint is from the seed of the Achiote tree. Each Achuar man uses a unique collection of designs which vary for a day spent in a meeting, or a day spent hunting, or in days gone by, for war.


Legacy of Harm with their health and livelihoods. Since being exposed to contaminants, local residents have suffered from tumors and unexplained diseases at alarming rates. This is a struggle not only for the survival of irreplaceable indigenous communities, but for one of the richest biodiversity spots in the world. The Amazon Basin contains the world’s largest tropical rainforest and houses nearly fifty percent of the planet’s terrestrial biodiversity. Exotic plant species and endangered animals make their homes in the dense rainforest, which is also a purifying mechanism for the increasingly polluted skies. Large-scale infrastructure projects have boomed with the surge of industrial access to the Amazon, creating “development corridors” that include roads and oil pipelines which cross over pristine landscapes and protected areas. Persistent pollution and habitat destruction could lead to an irreversible loss of biodiversity and instability of ecosystems. Furthermore, mega development projects perpetuate the expansion of extractive industries into otherwise inaccessible regions, jeopardizing the Amazon’s ecological diversity.

The Fight fo r Surviva l: ¡ La Selva N o Se V e nd e ! In response to these conflicts, the solidarity of indigenous populations has reached new heights. Leaders of Ecuadorian indigenous federations such as RECOKA, La Red de Comunidades Kichwas de la Amazonia, have united, demonstrating from the streets of Quito to Texaco-Chevron’s shareholder meetings in Houston. They are fighting for

the environmentalism of the poor, essentially conveying this one message: “If petroleum comes, it will destroy everything.” In this battle between David and Goliath, the pressure exerted by the indigenous peoples may be critical in countering the industrial giant—as well as others that might presume to follow. Indigenous communities have been engaging in territorial mapping as a strategic tool to secure claims to certain lands. Particularly when indigenous rights are marginalized, critical mapping not only helps to maintain or regain indigenous peoples’ control over resources, but also creates some measure of political autonomy. Participatory mapping actively involves the indigenous community in mapping their own territory, enabling indigenous communities to capture the cultural uses of their land. When these maps are produced, they serve as evidence of territorial control, allowing communities to better shape the management of resources. Equally important is the emancipatory role of mapping and the sense of ownership community members gain from transferring their own knowledge into important documents, which can then be presented for use at during statelevel decision-making processes. Some have considered the Texaco-Chevron trial as a trial of globalization itself. Transnational procurement results in costly externalities for the less powerful countries, therefore stricter rules of the game are necessary if such exchanges are to be sustained. As Yanza puts it, “if globalization creates the conditions for multi-national companies to profit, pollute, and run, it should create the conditions to hold them accountable.”


Legacy of Harm In today’s globalized business environment, extractive industries can no longer assume that the degraded environments and poisoned communities they leave behind will be forgotten. Surely, the tragedy of the BP spill will stay in the minds of consumers— not to mention the affected communities—for decades to come. Without a doubt, the Kichwa and Achuar will continue fighting to keep the poison out. The trial against Texaco-Chevron will hopefully offer the chance for the rules of international business to be remade. And in this new business scene, human lives must be a priority, or the Amazon might soon lose its most valuable resource. And no, I am not talking about the oil. MG


Amazon Rainforest





A stark reminder of the legacy that oil companies have left for the Achuar people


Photo by Mitchell Anderson, Amazon Watch Achuar Territory, Corrientes River, Peru


Photo by Sophia Perlman, Jerusalem, Israel

Israel in Conflict Tradition and Modernity

Jerusalem is conflicted by tradition and modernity. Here, in the Old City near King David’s tomb, a Jewish star and an electric guitar are hung side-by-side outside a home.

Sophia Perlman 13

Israel in Conflict

Mediterranean Sea Caesarea Tel Aviv/Jaffa West


Gaza Strip





The market bustle in downtown Jerusalem on a Friday afternoon, as people prepare for tomorrow’s Shabbat.

14 14



Photo by Sophia Perlman, Jerusalem, Israel


srael is rarely featured in the news without the word conflict closely attached. The country is largely defined by its political and ethnic scars. Tension is apparent throughout the state, but not in the political nature one might expect. Instead, the nation is torn between religious tradition and western modernity. This inherent contradiction is evident in the built environment, where the ancient Jerusalem stone and concrete high-rises create an intricate and inconsistent national landscape. For a country so rooted in a collective religion, it is surprising to find such a complex national identity. In actuality, Israel is a country struggling to honor its past amidst an uncertain and tenuous future.

The Caesarea Development Corporation built a modern day tourist center over ancient ruins in the antiquated port city of Caesarea.

Photo by Alex Geller, Caesarea, Israel

View of Tel Aviv’s skyscrapers with Jaffa’s Jerusalem stone in in the foreground.

Photo by Sophia Perlman, Jaffa, Israel

Israel in Conflict

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Jerusalem stone near the Western Wall, where religious customs still command tremendous power. Women and men pray separately at the wall, following traditional Jewish practice.


Photo by Sophia Perlman, Jerusalem, Israel

Israel in Conflict


Photo by George Spyrou, Skiathos, Greece

By Peter Spyrou

“The elephant is a bonnie bird. It flits from bough to bough. It makes its nest in a rhubarb tree: And whistles like a cow.”


—Edward Lear

ight pierces through the wooden shutters in horizontal bands. It carries the rhythmic drones of cicadas and the salty breeze of the Aegean. The soft pitterpatter of bare feet upon flagstone coupled with the giggles of young cousins, drifts in from the kitchen. My sister’s sheets lie crumpled up at the foot of her bed, she has ventured upstairs in search of fresh bread and honey. I roll out of my bed, change into a swimsuit, and put on my Dad’s old straw hat. The kitchen table is already buzzing with activity. Nicky sits at the head, layering thick globs of Nutella onto a loaf of bread. Alexia strains coffee with her French Press. Granny mixes cereal with fresh fruit and yoghurt.

Florence diligently munches on a piece of toast. Christiana washes grapes. Izzy mixes honey into her Rice Krispies. Marianna boils an egg. Mom peels a fig. Lucy cuts open a juicy peach. The rest of the Anninos family is still asleep, each tucked away into their little corner of Glarofolia. In 1970, my mother’s family bought a dry spit of land on the Greek island of Skiathos. Over the next couple of years, they built a three-sided open-air structure surrounded by verandas and shaded by wild olive trees. On the edge of a peninsula, they named their simple structure Glarofolia, Greek for Seagull’s Nest. 17

Skiathos, Greece















The house is a summer retreat with beehive-like dormitories tucked away in every corner: on the second floor, in the basement, under each veranda. The south side of the house is completely open, with two 20-foot high sliding doors. This simple and open plan is somehow able to fit up to 25 people for an evening’s rest or afternoon siesta. About 25 years ago, in February of 1986, the patriarch of my mother’s family, Peter Anninos, passed away. He left behind his wife Lena (my Granny) and three beautiful, intelligent, and caring daughters: Amanda (my mother), Alexia, and Marianna. These four strong-willed Greek women have forged the strongest of bonds. They are always there for each other, showing the next generation the importance of inter-family trust and love. Peter’s two younger daughters went on to marry non-Greeks, Mark Florman, a Swede, and Angus Fanshawe, a full-bloodied 18

Englishman. They each gave birth to their own sets of three daughters (Katia, Christiana, and Tali of Alexia and Mark, and Lucy, Elena, and Florence of Marianna and Angus). This means, including my mother and sister, that for every July since 1987 (the year I was born), I have always been the oldest Anninos male in a house of women. In stark opposition, my father’s family house is much more male-centric with a strong paternal grandfather and male cousins. Just a few years after the Seagull’s Nest was built, about two miles down the road, my Dad’s family bought a large fertile swath of land at Troulos Bay. They built a house they named S.A.A.G.A. (Spyrou, Andreas, Anne, George, Alexander). Most summers, I would spend two weeks in Glarofolia with my Granny, maternal cousins, and aunts (while the husbands were still at work). Then, when my dad was able to leave work and come out to Greece, my


Photo by Angus Fanshawe, Skiathos, Greece

Skiathos, Greece immediate family would move into SAAGA, which runs uphill for one mile from the a beautiful white plaster house he had harbor to the cemetery. At one end of the designed while in college. main street lies the village’s marina, opening My time in Skiathos is split to the Aegean Sea. The harbor is divided into between these two houses. In a sense, all of my two sections, the “old” and “new” ports. The experiences in Skiathos fit into pairs. local fishing boats are packed into the “old” Every set of experiences, sentiments, and port bustling with a fresh seafood market in memories, can be divided into two distinct the mornings and boisterous restaurants in categories. Aside from my time divided the evenings, where octopus and kalamarakia between Glarofolia with 11 women and hang out in the open air to dry. The “new” in SAAGA with mostly men, the island port was built in the 1970s and is where the itself has multiple categories with humongous car ferries, super-fast hydrofoils distinct sided-ness. The south side of (“flying dolphins”), island-hopping sail boats, Skiathos is covered in settlements with a and luxury motor yachts dock for anywhere paved road, an airport, a village, a port, and between a few minutes to a few months. New tourists. Then a north side that is untamed arrivals to Skiathos disembark at the mouth and wild, where the only structure is an of the central road and naturally gravitate up abandoned pirate’s castle. Then there are also the wide cobblestone street into the heart and my experiences on Skiathos as a Greek and soul of the village. also as an American, or as a local and a The other end of the main street begins tourist, or on the beaches compared to the at the highest point in the village, at the forest, or during the day and then the night. nexus of a cemetery, hospital, church and Most summer nights in Skiathos central parking lot. After leaving the central have been spent tramping up and down lot the street is thin and narrow. As the street the main village street with a large gang descends towards the sea, it weaves in the of my cousins (from both sides). The village’s alleys and side streets, overflowing street has changed drastically over the past and widening. Local Skiathidis more often twenty-two years as Skiathos has grown into enter from this high-side, descending on to a prime destination for summer tourists from the village and harbor from above. Athens, Italy, France, England, Germany, and The village of Skiathos has everything Sweden. The island’s winter population is the local Greek villager or international made up of about 4,000 local Skiathidis, but tourist could ever want. Village kids play in a in the summer months the population can central Church square that is bounded by top out at close to 20,000. hookah bars and brightly colored swinging The “main drag” of this bustling sofas. Cafes that are full of old grisly men fishing village is named Papadiamantis Street, drinking ouzo and playing backgammon

Photo by John Spyrou, Skiathos, Greece

Skiathos, Greece taxis to carry them away from the “main drag.” In the early evening everyone returns in full force. The whole of the street comes alive with buzzing activity around shops, restaurants, bars, and the open-air movie theater. Bodies flood into the street, groups of European tourists, all speaking different languages shout, scream, and laugh at each Peter napping on Skiathos shore other. The waiters are out in the middle of during the day fill up with girls in miniskirts the street, coaxing you into their restaurant. drinking red bull and vodka by night. French There is a line around the block for crêpes bistros rub shoulders with gyro dives. from a place called “The Corner,” a family of On summer days the village goes three run a gyro place named “No Name,” through four distinct time stages: early where stacked piles of lamb, pork, and morning (5:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.), lunch/siesta chicken are shaved off for a pita bread me ola (11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.), early evening (with everything). The street is crackling (5:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m.), and late evening with movement. An old man with a Polaroid (10:00 p.m.–3:00 a.m.). The early morning camera, a dozen roses, and a mustache time is when local Skiathidis buy offers to take your picture. The bustle reaches a bread and fish. The high side as frenzied pace. Most of the people on the most of the village’s bakeries. In the street are just wandering, no specific place to morning the road smells strongly of freshly be. The alleys wind and curve out from and baked bread, lifting the spirits and making back towards Papadiamantis Street. One can the tummy growl. As the locals descend into easily lose oneself, and in the process of the “old” port, the fishermen and mongers trying to find the village’s central street again, start shouting and chopping up fresh seafood could just as easily end up at tucked-away and the air fills with the pungent scents of little fish restaurant with a bouzouki player or whitebait, mackerel, swordfish, octopus, and find themselves in a house’s courtyard with sea urchin. During the morning, the locals two wrinkly old widows, dressed in all black, come in to the street from the top and work gossiping on a bench, who chuckle as you their way towards the harbor as they haggle turn around to re-find the street. and negotiate their way through the day’s In the late evening the crowds begin groceries. to disperse, but this is when the thumping, During the lunch/siesta period, activity pulsing music begins. The nightclubs and is quiet and low-key centered on the many bars fill up. The only people out want to brightly colored chairs of the street cafés, party, and party hard. They want to get with local backgammon rivalries played out drunk, dance, smoke, kiss, find pleasure, live over Greek coffee and cigarettes. At 4:00 p.m., it up late into the night. The upper part of the at the end of the local siesta time, the large street is more residential and therefore much ferries begin to arrive flooding the port area quieter this late at night, activity is focused at and village with freshly sun-burned tourists the port and then even beyond. Finally the (a.k.a. “pasties” to my cousins). The tourists tourists begin to leave the village and return wander up the main street with their noisy it to the locals, if only for a few hours. wheeled suitcases in search of hostels and 20

Photo by Nick Spyrou, Skiathos, Greece

Skiathos, Greece My extended family is scattered My dad would often say that the island throughout Greece, England and the US, has some palpable magical character. A few but every summer we make a summer months ago, he and I were talking about where we feel most at peace. Of all the places pilgrimage to this special island. Our summers in the world, where do we feel most at ease? in Skiathos are our times to reconnect with cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Without hesitation he said, “at the steps An annual reunion where my mom and her on Skiathos, at Lena’s house, all the way at the end, where the steps extend out to the sisters can swim together bobbing and sea.” We went on to talk about that floating in the Aegean, chatting, gossiping, and beautiful spot, where waves crash upon the sharing stories for hours each day. Since birth, rocky point at the end of the peninsula that I have spent every summer visiting, exploring, Glarofolia was built on. A spot I would walk swimming, eating, sleeping, reading, and down to during siesta time to read and watch laughing on this island. It is a place full of wonderful memories, of feasts, of family, of the sailboats go by, where Angus asked friends, and of fun, full of good times and Aunt Marianna to marry him under a full moon, a place to look out from Skiathos at the sad times, full of life, and above all else, full surrounding islands and the sea beyond. of love. MG


Photo by Tim O’Grady, Kilcrohane, Ireland

Mental Mapping

On Sheep’s Head Peninsula, Ireland Tim O’Grady

R e p u b l i c o f I r e l a n d


Sheep’s Head Peninsula

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50 km


p ee


a He


n Pe


u ns


Photo by Tim O’Grady, Ahakista, Ireland


ental, or cognitive, maps are spatial conceptualizations constructed from an individual’s memory that reflect how that person perceives their surroundings. Rarely transcribed on paper, mental maps are stored in the back of our minds and unconsciously influence the geographic decisions we must make everyday. Each person’s mental map is unique to their lifestyle and is fraught with errors and distortions. These inaccuracies are shaped by personal experiences, preferences, interpretation of the landscape, familiarity with the roads and a slew of other factors specific to the individual. This past June, I spent over three weeks volunteering on an organic farm in Sheep’s Head Peninsula, Ireland on the western coast of the island. While driving with my host through the peninsula for the first time, I was immediately captivated by the verdant hills blanketed with sheep, the jagged rocky outcrops rising into the sky and the unpredictable sea which transformed from diffused royal blue to jet black in a single swell. As I cruised the serpentine dirt roads towards the farm I knew that this was a magical place and promised myself at that very moment that I would do my best to explore every inch of it. Every day after weeding onion patches and clearing plots of farmland, I laced up my boots and ventured off to anywhere my feet (or bike) could take me. Although I was entirely dependent on a hiking map for my first few days of exploration, I soon found myself recognizing sites and being able to find my way back to the farm based only on prior experience. Without even trying I was developing a mental map of the peninsula! To satisfy my geographic curiosity, I decided to transcribe the basic spatial knowledge of the landscape that was floating around my head down onto paper. Every week I sketched a map of the 0

2 km


Ahakista and Map 1

peninsula on a 7 x 5 inch sheet of paper using a 12-pack of colored pencils. Instead of referencing my hiking map, I relied on my own interactions with the landscape to conjure up a cartographic visualization representing how I envisioned the peninsula at that point of my stay. The first map was made just days after my arrival. I went on a few hikes around the farm and spent many hours reading next to the town fishing pier. This large scale map is centered on Heron Gallery—the organic farm I was staying at. The roads and hiking trails I included had particular significance to me because these were the paths I traveled on during my first few days of exploration. I incorporated the curvy road that leads from the church to the sea because this was where I took my host family’s dogs on their morning walks. Although there was a larger road directly east of the school, it does not show up on my map because I had no 23

Map 2

interactions, and thus no knowledge that this road existed. The road west of the gallery that edges the river has two “x’s” drawn along its path because I had noteworthy experiences at these points. The local pub is noted as well because I went with my host family for trivia night and a pint of Guinness. By the second week, I began to stray away from abstracted conceptions of the landscape based on memory, and developed more geographically accurate visualizations. As I spent more time on Sheep’s Head, I went on longer hikes and tagged along for a few car rides around the peninsula. The extent of my explorations expanded which led me to draw the second map at a smaller scale. Unlike the first map, which focuses on specific events and experiences, the second map is based on tangible natural and man-made features. These landmarks, such as the Tower Ruins on the southern coast, helped me orient myself in the environment and prevented me from getting lost. Colin Ellard, experimental psychologist and author of the 2009 book You Are Here: Why We Can Find Our Way to the Moon, but Get Lost in the Mall, explains that landmarks play a crucial role in mental mapping: “Cognitive maps ... are constructed using various pieces, including the identity and appearance of individual landmarks and their observed relationship to one another.” (Ellard 104) 24

Ellard’s point regarding landmarks and their relationships to one another becomes even more evident in my third and fourth maps. These sketches incorporate accurate geological and topographical information of the streams, bog lakes, and mountains I hiked past. Knowing the relationships of topographical elements in the landscape helped me plot hiking trails and routes with more precision. The trail that skirts the southern coast near the castle tower ruins is drawn with a lot of detail because I remember being captivated by the landscape at this point in the hike. A makeshift bridge of boulders and wooden planks allows hikers to pass the strait which connects the unnamed lake on the southern coast to Dunmanus Bay. Standing on this crossing, I was mesmerized by the steep cliffs to my right, Reenmore Strand covered in fog to my left, and the placid fresh water lake behind me. This vivid image helped me reconstruct the spatial relationships of each landmark and the curvaceous route of the hiking trail which skirted by them. As time went on, the winding roads and hiking trails that I frequented became subconsciously engrained in my mind. I developed an intimate relationship with these paths and knew their curves and gradients by heart. Rather than paying attention to specific landmarks in the

Mental Mapping landscape, I navigated my way based on were asked to draw maps of the city center gut instinct. The trail networks are drawn without looking at any references. Some of with much more precision in the third and his findings were rather logical, such as the fourth maps because they became a habitual ability of long time residents to sketch more component of my daily journeys. After complex and accurate maps than foreign spending the first weeks constantly observing tourists. Other findings such as preferences the landscape and searching for landmarks, of map orientation and figure were more I came to a point where I no longer had complex. The study proved that where a to consciously think about my geographic Durham resident lived within the city decisions. influenced their cognitive conception Cultural Geographer Yi-Fu Tuan of the city as a whole. Residents living explains that once one becomes accusin northern neighborhoods tended to tomed to a new landscape, movement draw their maps oriented to the east and orientation become unconscious while those residing in the northeastern processes governed by habitual tendencies: district preferred to orient their sketches to the non-conventional south. Pocock “Orientation in a new environment is among hypothesized that these tendencies were the most difficult cognitive tasks, yet once the influenced by the morphology of the city environment has become familiar and we have and the road networks which linked their an established a habitual route it is possible to residential districts to the downtown core. move in it with only minimal focal attention, and without the conscious resource to imagery.” The layout of roads and hiking trails (Tuan, 212) influenced my perceptions of the landscape as well. Since the southern coast is fairly flat and Similar studies on mental mapping, well-marked, most of my journeys occurred such as D.C.D. Pocock’s 1976 article on the main road which runs East to West. “Some Characteristics of Mental Maps: I could go longer distances without An Empirical Study,” have found a expending as much energy and was reassured connection between mental map accuracy and by the numerous markers which reminded one’s familiarity with the landscape. Pocock me where I was. The traverse northward to conducted an experiment in which residents, Bantry Bay, on the other hand, was extremely visitors, and tourists of Durham, England difficult due to the mountainous terrain and

Map 3


Photo by Tim O’Grady, Kilcrohane, Ireland

Mental Mapping unkept trail system. The one hike I did take to the other bay was an all-day fiasco which ended with me getting lost in a rain storm. Map 4 highlights my tendency to travel along the coast due to the greatly distorted shape of the peninsula in which the length has been compressed while the width has been stretched. This cartographic inaccuracy reflects my mental conceptualization that the distance from bay to bay is longer due to the grueling hike I had taken a few days before. Similar to the residents of Durham, the habitual routes and tendencies I developed Map 4 based on the location of the farm influenced how I perceived Sheep’s Head Peninsula as a graces my skin and salty spray from the whole. bay sticks to my lips. I lean slightly to When I first signed up to spend three the right tracing the irregular curves of weeks volunteering on an organic farm in one the coastline. I do not see a single soul of the most unspoiled spots in Ireland, I did besides a lone fisherman out at sea, swaying not know what I was getting myself into. I on the waves. MG figured I would learn useful farming skills, go on some hikes and take pictures of awe- Sources: Ellard, Colin. You Are Here: Why We Can Find Our Way inspiring vistas. Little did I know that I to the Moon, but Get Lost in the Mall. Doubleday: New York. would become so emotionally invested in a landscape whose innumerable shades of green Pocock, D.C.D. “Some Characteristics of Mental Maps: An Empirical Study.” Transactions of the Institute of and blue still pop up in my dreams. If I close British Geographers, New Series, Vol. 1, No. 4 (1976), my eyes and concentrate, I can recreate a pp. 493–512. Tuan, Yi Fu. “Images and Mental Maps.” Annals of the particularly memorable day biking back from Association of American Geographers, Vol. 65, No. 2 the beach. I am coasting down a gentle hill (Jun., 1975), pp. 205–213. surrounded by noisy sheep, while the sun


A hiking trail in Kilcrohane passes through sheep fields as it approaches the coast.

Photo by Oakley Jackson, Middlebury, Vermont, USA

Pinhole of Cyclist in front of Mead Chapel (Photographer’s Statement: pg. 46–47)


Paradoxes of Life in West Borneo’s Rainforest


Rhiya Trivedi

Photo by Rhiya Trivedi, Gunung Palung National Park, West Kalimantan, Indonesia


Paradoxes of Life in West Borneo’s Rainforest

ake, to the joyous whooping of agile gibbons or the angry roar of chainsaws. Walk, and marvel at the exotic micro flora, fungi and carnivorous plants, only to look up and discover the enormous stumps and felled trunks that surround you. Eat, distracted either by swarms of sweat bees, fire ants, and fluorescent beetles, or by the scattered cigarette packs and other tell-tale signs of old logging camps. Bathe in strong currents with the help of centuries old vines hanging from millennia old trees, or under bridges, built strong enough to bear the weight of wood being rushed out of the forest. Rest, trying to locate the distant barking of the barking deer over the gunshots of hunters. Doze off to the rhythmic wing beats of the rhinoceros hornbills fleeing human disturbance. Such are the paradoxes of life in West Borneo’s rainforests; brimming with unimaginable diversity of life, and unparalleled destruction; facing systemic problems in a wilderness seemingly too far from organized humanity. At first glance,

the rampant illegal logging and hunting in the forests are simply the by-products of local population growth; the inevitable encroachment of an increasingly ambitious society on defenseless natural environments. But look deeper, and a web of international market pressures, unstable governments and entrenched corruption emerges; structural problems, whose only solutions remain unrealized on the desks of far away politicians and CEOs. Indonesia has no legal domestic timber market. Any timber harvested on legal concessions is sold abroad, where profit margins are exponentially higher than those that can be reaped domestically. Intact forests outside of protected areas are long gone, harvested for construction and fuel wood. The only wood sources that remain are the national parks which house unprecedented biodiversity, supply flood mitigation, fire protection, and erosion control for local people, and store hundreds of thousands of tons of sequestered carbon. Community forestry is a deeply contentious issue;

W. Borneo

I n d o n e s i a






Photo by Rhiya Trivedi, Lamon Satong, West Kalimantan, Indonesia

Paradoxes of Life in West Borneo’s Rainforest

Scars of deforestation remain in Lamon Satong, West Kalimantan, nearly 20 years after illegal timber production wiped out old growth forest on the perimeter of Gunung Palung National Park

palm oil interests competing for land for plantations to meet growing international demand have sabotaged indigenous populations attempting to grow their own wood, and destruction within the forests is occurring at too rapidly for smallscale agro-forestry to keep up anyway. Bordering villages are devastatingly poor. Low rates of literacy and limited access to affordable health services have resulted in large families with even larger needs. Vegetable farming and illegal logging are the only potential sources of household income. Officials throughout the National Park Office, Forestry Ministry and Police Service are notoriously corrupt, taking money from logging financiers to ignore, and sometimes even bolster the 30

contraband behavior. Adding fuel to fire, Chinese demand for exotic foreign proteins has incentivized the hunting of the sun bear, clouded leopard, mouse deer and other precious fauna. The forests of Indonesian Borneo are disappearing at the intersection of poverty, corruption and international market pressures. The results: declining biodiversity of charasmatic megafauna, like orangutans, rising rates of annual greenhouse gas emissions and associated climactic changes, and diminished ecosystem services. The situation screams for preferential options—those that do not present local people with the false choice of either preserving their natural environment or putting food on the table.

Hyper-efficient stoves to reduce fuel demand and community forestry projects to grow wood offer some term short relief, but ultimately what is needed are structural changes, including investments in health care, education, and sanitation, alongside serious overhaul of policies relating to protected areas, palm oil interests, and natural resource based corruption. Some say it is too late; that the disappearance of intact, old growth forests is inevitable. Whether or not that is true will never be known. What remains true, however, is that the situation in Borneo is far from unique. This convergence of destitution, corruption and international market forces persist the world over—more frequently than not in close proximity to some of our most important natural systems. Both structural and grassroots solutions need desperately to work in tandem to save these

Photo by Rhiya Trivedi, Gunung Palung National Park, West Kalimantan, Indonesia

Paradoxes of Life in West Borneo’s Rainforest

Termite armies prey on a log felled by a logging crew, but not removed

fragile ecosystems from their seemingly inevitable annihilation. But we must believe that it is possible; that there is neither a life form nor an ecosystem on the planet worth abandoning. We must remember that our work must begin, not end, at the edges of a dying planet. MG

Extent of deforestation in Borneo 1950–2005, and projection towards 2020

Ahlenius, Hugo. “Extent of deforestation in Borneo 1950-2005, and projection towards 2020.” UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics Library. 2007. UNEP/GRID-Arendal. 29 Oct 2010 <http://maps.grida.no/go/graphic/extent-of-deforestation-in-borneo-1950–200531 and-projection-towards-2020>.

32 Photo by Vedika Khanna, Dubai, United Arab Emirates


and the Desert

Vedika Khanna

Dubai and the Desert l Khael road is my favorite road in Wait, and when day relinquishes itself to Dubai, which may come as a surprise. the night, the colors slowly recede, sucked up I could have chosen Sheikh by the moon to be replaced by shades of blue Zayed Road, the six-lane “death” highway that that match the sky. The stars come out and stretches across the Emirates, or perhaps shine down softly, bathing the sand in a pearly Al Wasl Road, which runs through glow of white. Jumeirah with its trimmed neighborhoods Dubai sits in this desert, the Rub’ Al and shops. Beach Road offers another option, Khali, which stretches over 300,000 square running next to the shores and the Burj al kilometers. The city lies on the brink of the Arab, the only seven star hotel in the world, Empty Quarter, that mysterious land jutting which also happens to be built in the shape out into the sea, claiming its right to the ocean of a sailboat. I could have picked any road between Africa and Asia. Dubai is the diamondin Dubai other than Al Khael, notorious for studded beacon of the Emirates. The city bakes traffic jams and danger on misty autumn under a shimmer of heat reflected off glassmornings. But I did not. I chose Al Khael paned buildings as a smog-like layer of sand because it runs next to the desert. droops across the sky, melding with the blue I have had four years to come to this cloudlessness above. Palm trees line each street, decision; four years on these roads that dissect pinpoints in this city of transition. The trees Dubai, yielding layers of the city’s lifeblood. I run along the dusty construction sites, manned have watched this place build up in front of my by parched Indian immigrants in their blue own eyes, a personal view of a small Middle jumpsuits. They border the spotless high rises, Eastern renaissance. Yet as Dubai has changed, glowing with a sparkly new sheen downtown. I have too. The city and I have been through The trees circle the racetrack, Nad Al Sheba, growing pains together, have shared losses where the camels run laps in the morning, and and setbacks and triumphs. One of the few grow in abundance in the old part of town constants of Dubai’s transient nature is the across the Creek. Most of all they surround the pull the desert has on the heart of the city, a yearning I found slowly swelling in me as well. The desert is one of the most beautiful environments I have ever seen, second only to mountains in my heart. There is Dubai an art in the way the wind whips the sand into UNITED ARAB EMIRATES flowing dunes, undulating like the sea, only to tear them apart, collapsing them into endless plains of goldenness. The desert gives away nothing and asks for nothing in return. She is a proud temptress, ever-changing, aloof and yet seductive. Mist descends upon the dunes in the morning dawn, obscuring shifting shadows of the shrubs and scraggly trees only to reveal them again as the wind gently blows. The sand is cool grey, calming, and soft to the touch. As the midday sun reaches its peak, the very air becomes overwhelmed with heat and the sand is bronzed rust, encrusted.











Dubai and the Desert malls, crowded with people trying to buy their of the population. Dressed in long white own piece of this glamorous city. dishdashas and stark black abayas, the locals Dubai is the ultimate success story. are easy to pick out in malls crowded by jeans With less oil than its neighboring rival, Abu and T-shirts. The city stands on equal footing Dhabi, Dubai diversified its source of reserves to with the other big names in the world. It will successfully eliminate its dependence on the not be long before the string of words “Milan, safety net of oil, becoming one of the central London, Paris, Dubai” earns a familiar ring in trading posts and open ports of the world. our ears. Today 90% of Dubai’s wealth is unrelated to It is easy to forget that Dubai has a oil. Under the watchful and ambitious eyes culture and identity beyond its outer face as a of the ruling Al Maktoum family, this simple growing metropolis. Ever since its meteoric rise, fishing and pearling town has rapidly the city has been in a constant struggle with the transformed into a teeming mass of a city desert. Roads lash out across the dunes next and a leader in the global economy. Much of to tall buildings built in a frenzy. The desert this transformation is accredited to Sheikh retaliates with sandstorms that bring traffic to a Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Ruler of standstill. Loose blowing sand creates mocking Dubai and Vice-President of the United Arab patterns on the concrete as people take refuge Emirates. Affectionately known by the people in the nearest buildings and the wind looks for as Sheikh Mo, it is his vision that has been real- its next victim. Even in the heart of town, the ized in recent years and has brought the city to desert lurks only ten minutes away at the city’s the world’s attention. edges, where paved roads trail off into dirt Everybody wants to come to Dubai. paths. World-renowned organizations set up bases Although the local Emiratis no longer in gleaming offices, investments pour in and live in tents on the dunes or sleep under the tourism is on the rise. The Emirate’s stars like their Bedouin ancestors, their veins visionary projects have become famous. still flow with sand and their blood boils to the Man-made islands in the shape of palm trees desert heat. Through them, the Arab culture is jut out from Dubai’s coastline, big enough passed to younger generations. Coffee, spiced to be seen by satellites. An indoor ski slope, with cardamom, is still served after dinner and known as Ski Dubai, gave many locals their first dates are offered in abundant variety. The date glimpse of snow when it opened and now offers palm tree is sacred to the Arabs, so much so that tourists a chance to escape from the midday each house must have at least one. Mosques heat. The stunningly sleek Burj Khalifa opened stand at every other street corner. No matter this year and is officially recognized as the tallest where you are you can always hear the call-tobuilding in the world. Right next to it stands prayer five times a day, which creates a routine Dubai Mall, with over 1,200 stores, an and a sense of passage of time in a city where aquarium and an Olympic-sized ice rink, the sun never seems to set. encouraging shoppers to enter with empty The Al Maktoums share a passion for the suitcases in hand and leave with them filled to desert with their people. The Dubai World the brim. Cup, one of the largest horse races in the world, Dubai’s boom has allowed foreigners is paid for by the patronage of the sheikhs as to overrun the emirate. In 2006, the city’s a distant remembrance of when Bedouin life population measured 1.6 million. Today, it revolved around this faithful animal, likely extends beyond the 2 million mark, precious as family. Sheikh Mo has his offices in the 80,000 Emiratis making up just 4% Emirates Towers, one of the sleekest 34

Photo by Vedika Khanna, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai and the Desert buildings on the Dubai skyline. He can be seen ideas, passionate, alive, discordant, sitting at the striding across the floors, followed by his edge of The Empty Quarter where the Rub’ Al advisers, in steady discussion about his next Khali meets the sea. As I drive down Al Khael bold move for Dubai’s future. What many do road, I look to my right and see the desert and not know is that he can also be found alone can almost hear my name being called on the in the desert, in quiet contemplation as he soft wind. I look to my left and watch my car reconnects with his land. Tourists have roll by, reflected in the gleaming buildings on stumbled upon him out among the golden the other side of the street. I continue down the straight road, straddling both city and desert, dunes and have been asked to stay to share melding, melting, mixing all around me. MG his water, after which the sheikh strolls off, slipping away as the wind sweeps his footprints Editor’s Note: This article was written in May 2010. clear. Sources: Dubai and the desert have not reached Davidson, Christopher M. Dubai: The Vulnerability of reconciliation yet. Perhaps they never will, and Success. New York: Columbia University Press, perhaps they are not meant to. The Emirate is 2008. a swirl of paradoxes, of clashes between ancient Saunders, David. Dubai: The Arabian Dream. London: sand and new metal, old tradition and new I.B. Tauris, 2004.

The Burj Al-Arab Hotel, built in the shape of a sailboat 35

A Picture is Worth More Than a Thousand Words Photo by Quan Pham, Masaya, Nicaragua

A MAlt (Middlebury Alternative Break Trip) to Masaya, Nicaragua

The Smiles: They beamed at us so much that we could not help but return the gesture. Some shyly hid behind trees as they peaked at us, probably wondering â&#x20AC;&#x153;Who are these foreigners?â&#x20AC;? and others assertively walked up to us, grabbed a hold of our hands and just giggled.

Quan Pham 36


Atla ntic Oc e

N i c a r a g u a Masaya

Lake Nicaragua

Pacifi cO cea


“MAlt provides students with a variety of affordable opportunities to volunteer during their February break and brings a greater awareness of social and environmental issues to students by facilitating active engagement and reflection through volunteer service trips here and abroad.” —MAlt






ou wake up earlier when the sun is warmer. Down in Masaya, Nicaragua on the project site of Chacocente, I would restlessly toss and turn in my sleeping bag as the Nicaraguan sun started the day. It was early February of 2010; ten students from Middlebury College flew to Central America, to the second poorest country in the Americas. About eighty percent of the indigenous people live on less than $1 a day, and roughly one in every three persons suffer from malnourishment. On this project site, eight families who once lived on the Managua’s city landfill received a chance at a better life. Through Project Chacocente the families signed a contract to “work” for five years; in return they would receive the rights to their own home and two acres of arable land.

“Working with us means learning to read and write, to build, to farm, to solve problems, to govern themselves, to be more knowledgeable parents, and to start a small business.” —Project Chacocente (www.outofthedump.org) The inside walls of their cement houses, built by laying each brick by hand, were plain and undecorated. In addition to assisting the building of their homes, we conducted a side project—to enable the members of this community to express themselves through photography. We brought along two dozen disposable cameras, which we distributed to both children and adults. After a simple instruction class in Spanish on how to use the camera, they continued about their day, snapping shots. 37

Photo by Kristen Faiferlick, Masaya, Nicaragua

Mis Amigos: They thought that they were lucky to meet us, but it is we were the fortunate ones. Right away they took us in like familyâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;whenever we sat, they wanted to sit with us, and whenever we stood, they stood beside us. 38

Photo by Quan Pham, Masaya, Nicaragua

Photo by Quan Pham, Masaya, Nicaragua

Shutter: After the children received their disposable camera, they dispersed to capture as many shots as they could.

Initially, we did not know what we were going to do with the pictures once we got them developed, but it all happened very organically. On our last night in Masaya, everyone gathered in that one open-air classroom. We laid out a variety of arts and crafts supplies on the cement floor and returned the developed pictures to the photographers who took them. The expressions on their faces were priceless, and the smiles brightened the evening. Chatter and excitement filled the air and pride filled their spirits. There was a palpable sense of pride.

The Final Night: With all their developed photos, they made collages, ornaments, and albums.


Photo by Quan Pham, Masaya, Nicaragua

ÂżEstĂĄs escuchando? (Are you listening?): Some of us ventured to Nicaragua with no understanding of the language. However language was never a barrier of communication. 40

Mapping an Island Old Providence, Colombia


t only 18 square kilometers and invisible on maps of the Caribbean, Isla de Providencia, or Old Providence, Colombia, sits off the coast of Nicaragua in near anonymity, despite the rumors that Robert Louis Stevenson based his famous novel Treasure Island on the island. Before 2008, even Google Earth did not have a satellite image, instead showing the island as a mere change in the depth of the surrounding sea. Online maps rarely pictured more than a single road, some gullies and the airport scattered with approximate dive sites in the surrounding blue. The only quality map I could find, I purchased from NOAA

Alison DeGraff

of a British survey in 1835; needless to say it was a bit out of date, albeit beautiful. With a trip arranged to return to Old Providence during January-Term 2010, I planned an independent study where I would groundtruth information I collected from the government and create data of my own with a handheld global positioning system (GPS). Only 90 kilometers from its sister island of San Andrés, it is an easy flight on a good day, but an impossible one on a bad day—it took four days to arrive on Old Providence because of thunderstorms and high winds. During the wait I met with the GIS technician at CORALINA

Where in the World is Old Providence?

Turks & Caicos Islands The Bahamas



Cayman Island

Haiti Dominican Republic

Jamaica 85°0'0"W


80°0'0"W kil om ete rs


Guatemala 15°0'0"N

71 0

Honduras El Salvador Bluefields

Old Providence Island


0 29 eters m kilo San




72 5

rs ete om kil

Costa Rica

5 25

Andrés Island

kilo meter s Cartagena

Panama City

Venezuela 41

Panama Cartography: Alison DeGraff


Mapping an Island (the government-sponsored Corporation packs. After a harrowing hike down the for the Sustainable Development of the backside of the Peak along a rope course, Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia we decided to split from the trail that we and Santa Catalina) to gather data on knew led back to the dam and explore the elevations, biosphere reserves, the coral reef, trail which supposedly led to Southwest Bay. inhabited areas, and gullies. This information Not fifteen minutes into the hike we had would supplement the data I would collect already begun to bushwhack through woods, a with the Garmin GPS I borrowed from the difficult feat through the invasive Cockspur Middlebury Geography Department. While trees which colonizers originally brought to the technicians gave me many maps filled feed cattle. This particularly nasty species has with relevant information, I found that much thorns lining its trunks and branches, each a of their data needed to be ground-truthed. home to ants which live to protect the tree. For example, on the road map any trail from One brush against the thorns and ants scuttle a long-abandoned cow path to the paved up and down your body leaving painful welts. road that runs around the island had been Needless to say, we proceeded slowly as we labeled as part of the road network. Eager to avoided the Cockspur trees, stepped between create a more accurate, easier to understand, old and rusted barbed wire fences, and tried and more user-friendly map of the island, I to keep our feet under us on the steep slope. tied my hiking boots and struck off down the That is a trail you will not find on the map! “road.” After two weeks of hiking around the On Old Providence there is one gas island, my friend and I rented a moto so station, two banks, seven beaches, that I could finish marking the roads that seventeen kilometer markers, and one almost I had not yet explored via bike, foot, or on continuous two-way road that winds its way the Chiva (the brightly-painted, reggaearound the island. With the GPS, I took blasting bus that circles the island all day). the coordinates of each of these locations, It started out a beautiful day, but about riding or walking along each path and ten minutes into our ride the sky opened. marking waypoints at each place of potential We pulled over, already soaked, into a bus interest. In an attempt to ground-truth stop, and watched the normally calm sea on all of the roads CORALINA displayed on the eastern side of the island rise and fall as their map, I ended up hiking “trails” that no sheets of freshwater joined its salty body. longer existed, at least not with enough As it began to slow, we made our certainty to be marked on a map. On one way to our friend Maria’s house to hike we put to good use the machetes we wait out the rest of the storm and she carried wrapped in newspaper in our back- welcomed us with her homemade frozen A panoramic view of Catalina Bay

42 42

coconut picolés in little metal cups. As an accompaniment to dessert, Maria told us stories about how when my friend (an American born on Old Providence) was a little girl, “Ma-wie” would baby-sit for her and walk her up the long hill to her house after she was done at the store for the day. As the story goes, my friend would always lose an article of her clothing on the way up the hill and try and tell Maria, but with her limited language skills and Maria’s narrow grasp of English as a Spanishspeaking, French native, she could never quite get Maria to understand that she had left her shoe at the bottom of the hill until they reached the top. Having the opportunity to revisit the island, not for a vacation, but with the power to create something to give back to the community, was an amazing opportunity. With my connections on Old Providence

Photo by Orion Remaniak, Old Providence, Colombia

Photo by Orion Remaniak, Old Providence, Colombia

GPS strapped on, Aly descends the back side of the Peak

being mostly with islanders, I felt a certain loyalty to reflect the native culture and make my map available to them. Through its 480-year history, the island has been passed back and forth between Anglo-Caribbean colonizers and Spanish rulers, causing tension between English and Spanish speakers. This is especially true after the 1926 “Colombianization” campaign, which decreed it illegal to use English or Creole in schools or official documents until the creation of the new Constitution in 1991. Keeping faithful to the original inhabitants, I choose to use all English nomenclature with the “native” names for the hills, gullies, and bays. Over January-Term and February break on Old Providence, my most memorable experience was not the delicious tamarind popsicles at Maria’s or patacones (fried plantains) at Roland’s Place; it was not hiking to Far Enough and finding a coconut husk that grew without a coconut inside; nor was it the boat trip around the island to see the island’s majesty from the sea. My most memorable experience occurred my last night on Old Providence on the beach at Southwest Bay after the bonfire began to die down and the moon began to rise. All across the sand phytoplankton began to glow, like a Vermont field filled with lightening bugs transferred to a Caribbean island. I could draw designs on my arms and face with the algae and felt like a goddess for the seconds before they faded away. MG


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Wind Direction Frequency


Crab Cay







Gullies Beaches Trails Sidewalks Dirt Roads Paved Roads Populated Places Biosphere Reserve Barrier Reef

Photo by Oakley Jackson, Middlebury, Vermont, USA

Pinhole of Statue at Morgan Horse Farm

Taking pictures with a pinhole camera breaks down photography into its most basic elements. My â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;cameraâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; was a small cardboard box wrapped in duct tape with a flap to cover up the speck-sized hole that allowed light onto the 5 x 7 film. As I set out on my shooting expeditions and position the box to capture an image I truly felt as though I was freezing time. I would go to a great deal of trouble to frame the desired scene as accurately as possible, wait for 46

Photo by Oakley Jackson, Middlebury, Vermont, USA

Pinhole of Pulp Mill Bridge

Oakley Jackson the sun to break free from the clouds and hold my breath, doing my best not to quiver for the long seconds the shutter stayed open. It was all a gamble, but in a short amount of time I got to know my cameraâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s perspective quite well. Then came the painstaking procedure of processing the film in a completely dark room. It is a thrilling experience to create a work of art without the use of sight. Only when the film was properly fixed in the chemicals and the lights came on did I know if my efforts had been a success.


Photo by Catarina Campbell, Florian贸polis, Brazil

Foreign Self in My Native Country

Looking out to the Centro

Catarina Campbell

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Foreign Self in My Native Country

wrote my admissions essay to Middlebury about a dream I had of my birth mother, Edna, when I was little. I dreamed I was beside her and my half-sister, Carrie, on the streets of Brazil looking through garbage for food. My mother was in a torn white T-shirt and life was fuzzy except for the knowledge that Carrie and I were meant to trail behind her. I did not feel desperate or lowly, there was not fear of not having anything to eat, but rather an acceptance to the necessity of the search. I awoke in Traverse City, Michigan in my own room with pink bear wallpaper, with a stuffed Barney under my arm, and the knowledge that my parents, my American parents, Bob and Ann, were asleep in their room if I needed them. I scurried down the hall to their bed many during my childhood to run away from nightmares. After dreaming of my birth mother I lay confused and unsure as whether I was waking from a nightmare. I knew I had left another reality that was a part of me, and that fear jarred my heart, evoking a certain familiarity and consciousness to a place and to people I never knew. From those first dreams of what my life could have been if I had not been adopted, Brazil has been a part of my consciousness that continually held what I hoped to be some inherent self, latent and waiting to be recognized, found, and evoked. I have spent my life clawing my way towards Brazil. When I was a little girl, I hatched a plan with my cousin to drive my Barbie jeep to Latin America in the middle of the night. I packed my bag, hid it under my bed, and waited for my cousin to come from her house (she was eight and had no car, of course) so we could begin our journey without waking the parents. Slightly more rational in my teenage years, I learned Spanish and lived in Mexico during high school because my school offered no Portuguese and going to Brazil was unaffordable for my family.

I came to Middlebury largely for the exchange program based in Florianópolis, Brazil, the city where my adoption took place. I left for Brazil a week before my twentieth birthday. I left with enough of the language to explore the people as well as the place. I stepped on the plane as a lucky emerging woman, with opportunity for an excellent education, a history of being well-loved and a forming idea of self. My mom hugged me goodbye and began to squeeze me in heaving sobs. “I love you Kate, I hope you find what you are looking for.” “You better come back!” She yelled, half-joking, but we both knew the fear we had shared for twenty years, that I would find myself in Brazil, a belonging that pulled me in a “natural” way that “adopted” love could not. I did find myself in Brazil, but more through a negation of self than through recognition of who I am in the people and culture. I can break the suspense and tell you that I decided not to find my birth mother though I still wonder about her. My journey was nothing like I expected it to be—Brazil gave me a tough love that kicked me into myself and helped me leave what had been my self-concept’s Neverland to a more real idea of home. I studied at the University of Santa Catarina, one of the best state universities in the country. My name was everywhere! I loved seeing “Catarina” all over the place, like the town was constantly calling to me. Although my name was everywhere, my skin tone was not. I heard phrases like “he’s cute … but he’s darker” and was the only student of visible color in three of my four classes. Brazil is one of the most diverse countries in Latin America and the shocking reality of “white” as a synonym for “educated,” “upper-class,” and “attractive” stripped my feeling of belonging. In the United States I also have my language; I love language and words with the exact connotation of what 49

Foreign Self in My Native Country I am feeling. I am a conversationalist and am lucky to have wonderful relationships where I feel I can be my whole, exploratory and engaged self. In Portuguese I was thrilled to simply survive and have a conversation! When I traveled around Brazil I was often with other exchange students, beautiful women who stood out clearly as foreigners. They were considered exotic while I felt I was considered lowly. I might be overexaggerating, but in instances when I did experience vastly differential treatment or overheard so many beauty standards and social assumptions that left me on the outside, a part of me began to expect and even accept them. At one point during my time in Brazil I heard myself think “why would anyone talk to me when I am standing next to this tall, gorgeous blonde?” Needless to say, I hated it, and not the country, but myself for letting the expectation of belonging and social standards derail the sense of self I had worked so hard to cultivate. I learned not to let that stuff bother Roraima




me in the United States: if people liked me, then congratulations (and kudos) to them, but if not, I always assumed they were not worth my time. After some exceptionally low points, and gaining seven pounds (which did not help with the whole body/race image), I started to look beyond my depression. Although I felt horrible, I had tried to make good relationships for myself. I befriended a man named Guto, a twentyyear-old spitfire who I still think of as the most generous and extroverted person I have ever met. He took me under his wing and introduced me to everyone in the literature department. He worked with me on my pronunciation for free until I left Florianópolis and was the cornerstone for the beginning of a belonging I began believing could come with me on the plane home. I was also adopted by a beautiful group of Portuguese hippy girls. It was flattering that these women, artistic and open, so lovely, would like and want to be friends with me. I made gay friends who went to the bars with me, one in particular who took me to hear her band play. I found parts of my identity in relationships that made Brazil more than a just struggle. I did not find Edna, my birth mother, because I do not want to think that everything “wrong” or confused about me can be solved by one person. I love her for what of her lives in me and for being a brave fifteen-yearold girl who gave me a chance at the life I have. Maybe one day she will know what she means to me and will be more than an



Rio Grande do Norte Paraíba



Pernambuco Alagoas




B r a z i l Mato Grosso


Distrito Federal

Minas Gerais Mato Grosso do Sul São Paulo


Santa Catarina

Rio Grande do Sul


Espírito Santo

Rio de Janeiro





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Catarina in Florianópolis

49 51

Photo by Stefania Forner, Florianópolis, Brazil

Photo by Catarina Campbell, Florianópolis, Brazil

Foreign Self in My Native Country we saw the first sliver of the sea we both transcended something. I finally approached and saw Brazil in a bodily, moving, rather than intellectual way. I was no longer struggling, just walking, climbing and descending one hot stone at a time. The sea is often a metaphor for self-transformation and now I see why. There is something to be said for fluidity and connectedness, for the right to one’s tides and knowledge that they will ultimately reconcile in a greater working of things, whatever that may be. Belonging in Brazil rests for me in the realization that I bring Catarina, not the saint of the town Santa Catarina, but the enigma who challenges and loves me every day, the girl who has been loved by my mother, Ann, and with feelings that urge me to search for communication and remind me that parts of us do transcend language and even culture. I now think the importance of place is how First glimpse of ocean! you let it shape you. I hold a Brazilian and an accumulating metaphor for all the things I American passport and feel I belong somehow do not understand about myself. to both and to another—the document of my My last week in Brazil was marked by a clay-colored skin and this woman writing for three-hour hike with my American friend, you now. No matter where I go, I hope to take Brenna, who forgot good shoes and had to her with me always. MG walk barefoot up and over a mountain, into the woods and finally out to the sea. I took off my shoes for part of the journey as well. My feet on the hot rocks sliding down the mountain and my toes in the mud after leaving what looked like the waterfall picture backgrounds in my fourth grade school photo, made me feel connected to Brazil, the place, in a way I had not before. Although it may be cliché, there is something to be said for the clay color of earth. I loved that the land itself had a saturated, dark horizon, orange-ish brown tone with which I am intimately familiar. Brenna was an incredible sport. The hike, which we were told would take an hour-anda-half, took us three hours because she was barefoot. I could not help feeling that when

Alison DeGraff ’10.5 Managing Editor

Peter Spyrou ’10.5 Editor-in-Chief

Editors: Elianna Kan ’10.5 Andrea Jones ’10.5 Roman Mardoyan-Smyth ’11 Meaghen Brown ’11 Kyle Hunter ’12 Tim O’Grady ’12 Sophia Perlman ’12 Noah Brautigam ’12 Isabel Shaw ’12 Alex Geller ’12 Hannah Judge ’12 Claire Lewandowski ’13 Photo Editors: Andrew Podrygula ’12 Tim O’Grady ’12

Sam Dawson ’10.5 Senior Photo Editor

Cartographers: Alison DeGraff ’10.5 Roman Mardoyan-Smyth ’11 Tim O’Grady ’12 Advisors: Lyn DeGraff, Reprographics Jeff Howarth, Geography Department Sponsors: Student Government Association Geography Department Alliance for Civic Engagement Middlebury Alternative Break Trips Women & Gender Studies Department Middlebury Student Darkroom Narrative Studies Department

Phot o


by Ja k

e Mo


Pata go




Photo by Kristen DeGraff, Galapagos, Ecuador

Join the Adventure!

Middlebury Geographic has three central objectives: (1) to showcase studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; academic research (2) to encourage academic collaboration among students (3) to present geographic concepts to the interested layman If you enjoyed this issue and would like to be a part of the next edition, please e-mail us at mg@middlebury.edu Check us out online at: go.middlebury.edu/middgeog


Middlebury Geographic Winter 2010

Photo by Alison DeGraff, Petra, Jordan


Profile for Middlebury Geographic Magazine

Winter 2010  

Middlebury Geographic has reached its third year, and we are thrilled to bring you more of the independent research, scholarly work, and glo...

Winter 2010  

Middlebury Geographic has reached its third year, and we are thrilled to bring you more of the independent research, scholarly work, and glo...

Profile for middgeog