In Mexico, Eco Concerns Where Sea Lions Romp
Something big zoomed by in my peripheral vision. I whipped around for a better look, but whatever it was had disappeared into the permanent twilight of the underwater world. Was it a gigantic grouper? A small whale?
Either was possible, 30 feet below the surface of the Sea of Cortez, which separates the Baja California peninsula from the Mexican mainland. But the shape and high velocity of the apparition were strange. I couldn’t place it until another one appeared, then another, and soon more than a dozen, twisting and turning around us seven divers, coming eye-to-eye close before speeding away: sea lions.
I should have figured it out sooner; I knew we were diving near a colony of the pinnipeds. But while I’d seen any number of sea lions above the water line, lolling in the sun or awkwardly dragging their blubbery bodies from rock to rock, I hadn’t imagined them transformed into these svelte underwater missiles, each one larger, stronger and faster than a human.
I was scuba diving in Mexico in the Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, a 27.5-square-mile ecosystem with an unusual history and an uncertain future. At least 226 fish species live in the park, and it is home to the only living hard coral reef in the Sea of Cortez. But environmentalists fear that a major resort development could significantly alter this delicate fringe of Baja, both above ground and underwater.
From my piece in today’s New York Times travel section, continued here: http://nyti.ms/17rpbOF
From my story in the new issue of The Magazine:
When Penny Minturn was 16, she wore a bracelet that said “Maj. Don Lyon.” He was an Air Force pilot missing in action in the Vietnam War, and like many kids in her Missouri town who wore MIA-POW bracelets, she wanted to show her support. “As teenagers we were very anti-war, but we were also taught about sacrifice,” she says. “I wore it until it broke. I wrote to his wife.” Lyon, who had disappeared in Laos, never returned, and his fate remains unknown.
Minturn, now 56, remembered President Richard Nixon telling Americans that there was no fighting in Laos, Vietnam’s neighbor to the West. “So it’s funny to be here now,” she said, sweat beading her brow in 95-degree heat as we surveyed the archeological dig she supervised.
It was April 2012, the end of the dry season, and we stood at a river bend in Southern Laos with orange-yellow dust on our boots. A rectangular pit the size of a suburban American home was to one side. It stair-stepped downward to the deepest point, about four meters below ground level, with sandbags stacked to hold up each vertical surface. White tape marked the perimeter like a crime scene.
Continued here: http://the-magazine.org/11/what-remains-behind
From L, somewhere out there:
…The book is amazing. And kind of scary. Scary in that it’s so similar to how I feel. Scary in that I’m now opening previously closed windows and doors in my mind and feeling vindicated regarding all my deep secret longing to flee my life and go running out into the world. I used to think that maybe I was crazy to feel that way. It’s also scary because at 32, I feel like I missed the window for irresponsible, unadulterated travel.
Anyway. I did as much of it as I could right up until I went to grad school (I literally came home the day before classes started)…
Since then, travel has been limited to my allowed work vacation time. It kills me. I somehow managed to find myself in a career I love, except that I am on a path that requires me to be reliable, consistent and present for my clients week after week. What have I done? Then of course, the stability required for grad school and a career, and being a licensed professional has led to other stable, scary things. Like a house. Dogs. A fiancee and a very postponed wedding…
I feel like I’m addicted to the travel for similar reasons you described in Wanderlust: escapism, simplicity, and the love part too.
From Mike Albo’s novella “The Junket:”
I have forgone something lasting to continue my long-term relationship with the most exciting but unreliable boyfriend of all—New York City. Maybe it’s time to break up with it, to emancipate myself from the teasing, taunting, sexy metropolis that has kept me within its grip my entire adult life. But how do I break up with a city? How long am I supposed to believe I can “make it” here?
The word “epicurean” has come to describe those who are fond of luxury, sensual pleasure, and gourmet food. At some point, its definition evolved away from that of capital-E “Epicurean,” which refers to a follower of the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus. Members of both groups advocate the pursuit of pleasure, but today’s hedonists define that very differently than the old philosopher did. To him, pleasure was attained by living simply and keeping one’s desires in check. One of his aphorisms was that “nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.”
He preferred plain boiled lentils to slow-roasted resin-infused pheasant, an ancient Greek delicacy prepared for noblemen by slaves. Today, countless foodies evoke Epicurus in the names of their blogs, magazines, and imported-cheese stores, but their tastes tend toward slaved-over pheasant.
The difference in these two understandings of how to maximize pleasure is at the heart of Travels with Epicurus, a charming meditation on aging. To live well in old age—or at any age—should we chase newer and better sensations, or learn to savor what we have? Daniel Klein takes us on a thought-provoking journey to find out.
What Gertrude Bell packed on her 1909 journey to the Middle East:
She packed couture evening dresses, lawn blouses and linen riding skirts, cotton shirts and fur coats, sweaters and scarves, canvas and leather boots. Beneath layers of lacy petticoats she hid guns, cameras, and film, and wrapped up many pairs of binoculars and pistols as gifts for the more important sheikhs. She carried hats, veils, parasols, lavender soap, Egyptian cigarettes in a silver case, insect powder, maps, books, a Wedgwood dinner service, silver candlesticks and hairbrushes, crystal glasses, linen and blankets, folding tables, and a comfortable chair—as well as her travelling canvas bed and bath. She took two tents, one for Fattuh to put up the moment they pitched camp, so that she had a table to write on, the other with her bath, to be filled with hot water once there was a fire, and her bed, to be made up with the muslin sleeping bag laid out under the blankets.
From “Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations" by Georgina Howell.
From Paul Auster’s “The Brooklyn Follies:”
I had never been inside a hotel, but I had walked past enough of them on my trips downtown with my mother to know that they were special places, fortresses that protected you from the squalor and meanness of everyday life. I loved the men in the blue uniforms who stood in front of the Remington Arms. I loved the sheen of the brass fittings on the revolving doors at the Excelsior. I loved the immense chandelier that hung in the lobby of the Ritz. The sole purpose of a hotel was to make you happy and comfortable, and once you signed the register and went upstairs to your room, all you had to do was ask for something and it was yours. A hotel represented the promise of a better world, a place that was more than just a place, but an opportunity, a chance to live inside your dreams.
Does a giant Gollum effigy looming over an airport food court make you want to eat there?
Do inflight-safety videos narrated by Hobbit characters make you feel safe?
Do commemorative Hobbit coins make you want to spend?
Or do all these things make you think ‘dear God, how creepy, how unpromising, let’s go to Australia or Patagonia or Detroit instead?’ Have Tourism New Zealand officials really run the numbers on this campaign? Did they compare would-be tourists attracted to would-be tourists repelled?