I first fell in love with West African music while dancing under a starry sky at a Dakar nightclub. Alex Shoumatoff's description of Malian music in the December issue ['Blues Traveler'] brought that moment flooding back.
The music of Senegal and Mali is both a wonderful auditory adventure and an exploration of the heritage of West Africa. This article highlighted the evolution of Malian music in its own right, rather than merely tracing its part in the history of the blues. Thank you for putting this music into its true context for those who have not had the opportunity to experience it firsthand.
—GEORGIA BOSE, SEATTLE, WASH.
Welsh Not-So-Rare Bit
Though I enjoyed Bruno Maddox's article, "A Grown-up's Christmas in Wales" [December], he gives a fairly unhelpful picture of the current state of the Welsh language. Census data indicate that about one-fifth of the country's population speaks Welsh—almost half of these speakers are young. Unlike most minority languages in the world, Welsh is experiencing a renaissance. Recent mandates that it be taught in school and printed on street signs are not "paranoia," but a reaction to the very real threat to the language and culture of Wales.
—CATHERINE RICHARDS, VIA E-MAIL
David A. Keeps's November article on the Bahamas ["Red-Hot Bahamas"] dismayed me. When I lived in Nassau as a teenager during the seventies, there were high-rise hotels, but much of the island was still unspoiled. I returned in 2003 and was shocked at the changes on Paradise Island. The captive manta rays at Atlantis were taken from a once spectacular ocean blue hole. When I revisited this dive spot, I found it denuded of rays. It's sad that this style of mega-developmentis needed to put a destination back on the map.
—PEGGY ABRAHAMS, VANCOUVER, B.C.
EDITOR'S NOTE Atlantis replies that it has one eight-foot manta ray named Rose, which was found two years ago in shallow waters, far from dive sites. The hotel plans to release it back into the ocean when its wingspan reaches 12 feet.
Guy Trebay's article "True Hawaii" [November] showed the multifaceted nature of this gorgeous place. I appreciated reading Mark Twain's characterization of Kailua as "the sleepiest, quietest, Sundayest looking place you can imagine." I was even glad that Trebay did not shy away from mentioning the island's agonizing crystal meth problem.The plagues of the modern world have reached the shores of this onetime island kingdom, but the concept of malama—caring for one another—is still very much alive.
—CHRISTOPHER JONES, VIA E-MAIL
READER'S FIND California
My boyfriend and I have a Valentine's Day tradition of visiting friends in southern California and then enjoying a romantic meal together in La Jolla. This year, we took a chance on Galoka [5662 La Jolla Blvd.; 858/551-8610; www.galoka.com; dinner for two $48] and were more than pleased with the restaurant's vegan and vegetarian offerings—chickpeas in a ginger, garlic, and onion curry; vegetable biryani with sun-dried tomatoes; saffron rice pudding with rose water and cinnamon. After dining at one of a few cozy tables, just a block from the ocean, we sat back to listen to a live Brazilian jazz guitarist.
—JAYA KOILPILLAI, OLNEY, MD.
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