I’ve vacationed in Africa several times, yet for some reason Madagascar always seemed like an intimidating destination. But January’s story [Into the Wild] made me want to go to lemur land immediately. I had never realized how rich the island’s biodiversity was, or what a world treasure Madagascar has always been. Andrew Solomon’s personable and informative narrative took a foreign, faraway place and made it inviting. —Laurie Benenson, Santa Monica, Calif.
Before reading Daniel Kurtz-Phelan’s piece in the December issue [Oaxaca at Peace], my impressions of the city had been shaped by the negative articles he refers to that hit newsstands in 2006. I was disappointed to read that tensions are still boiling between the government and its citizens, but also inspired by the pragmatic efforts of the Pueblos Mancomunados to retain Oaxaca’s local workforce. The article raises an important point: tourism is a powerful force for good, and we should better inform ourselves about how travel impacts the communities we know and love, as well as those we explore for the first time. —Meghan Rivetta, Lafayette, Calif.
St. Moritz Up Close
I’m always looking for travel articles that tell me something substantial—what it’s really like in the destinations I visit. In that vein, thank you for The High Life [January]. It was both a relief and a pleasure to read Luke Barr’s piece featuring serious politics—and straight-ahead honesty. I appreciated the inclusion of (scary) Russian monied types, distressingly empty luxury properties, enclaves of aging conservatives—in all, the complexities of accepting and adjusting to “the Monte Carlo–ization of St. Moritz.” —Alison Appelbe, Vancouver, B.C.
Lone Star Stories
I enjoyed Iconic Texas [December], with Ian Buruma’s well-chosen stopover in the lesser-known Archer City. It’s nice to read about the state’s rich history, beyond Alamo war records and famous cowboy legends. I’ve always been fascinated by stories like those of Galveston in the 1820’s, when it was Jean Laffitte’s flashy pirate kingdom of Campeche, and of the 17th-century Spanish missions in southern Texas working side by side with the vaqueros. And of course, anyone with a taste for nostalgia has to like those old square towns languishing in the Texas plains—places like Archer City. They are still worth a visit, especially those with a landmark like Larry McMurtry’s library. —Dennis Hollier, Kaaawa, Hawaii
More than Mac-and-cheese
Peter Jon Lindberg’s article on international comfort foods [Soft Food Nation, January] is a good example of just how globalized the American palate has become. We’re able to embrace the myriad cuisines popping up on every street corner. After a recent move to New York from North Carolina, I promptly added some favorite neighborhood dishes—steamed pork buns and pad thai—to my culinary repertoire. My taste buds are greatly benefiting. —Katie Fleming, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Reader’s Find: Jamaica
On a recent visit to Montego Bay, my family and I made a trip inland to see the countryside. The drive itself—on remote roads through jungle villages—was beautiful, but our favorite part was a detour to Mayfield Falls (Mayfield Falls Tour Office, Bar-B-Barn Complex, Negril; 876/957-4864). Expert tour guides lead small groups to a series of waterfalls in the middle of the rain forest. It was a great chance to see the natural beauty of the island’s interior. The river can seem daunting, but don’t be afraid to follow your guide out of your comfort zone and into the falls’ nooks and crannies. —Joshua Neff, Austin, Tex.