Right when I thought that the über-development in Canc´un had ruined local culture and spoiled any future chance to see a more authentic version of this vibrant region, David A. Keeps went and proved me wrong.
His experience in Yucatán ["Mérida's Moment," December] made me take a second look at this Mexican state, which I'd come to associate with college parties, spring break, and MTV. I'm happy to see that the traditional Mayan influence is still strong on everything from art to food to language. My next trip will definitely include a stop in Yucatán—and hopefully not más tarde!
—GUS THOMAS, EUGENE, OREG.
As a native of Istanbul and an art historian, I find the palimpsest and hybrid nature of cities such as Venice fascinating. So imagine my delight when I read "West Meets East" by Pankaj Mishra [December]. I applaud the author's discovery of Palazzo Mastelli. This important landmark exemplifies the influence Eastern and Western culture have had on each other in this labyrinthine city, beginning as early as the 12th century, when the Mastelli family moved to Venice from Greece and built this house, complete with its camel bas-relief. The surrounding neighborhood, Cannaregio, is located off the path of most tourists, but it continues to serve as a living reminder of the fantastic cultural vocabulary that Venice has created throughout its history.
—LORA SARIASLAN, DALLAS, TEX.
Pankaj Mishra's report on multicultural Venice left me wondering about his omission of an important group of Venetians: the Jews. After all, the word ghetto originated in Venice—it was the foundry chosen in the 16th century as the gated area in which Jews were locked at night. And the Jewish community itself was multicultural, with Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews vying for precious space.
—JUDITH BERLOWITZ, OAKLAND, CALIF.
"The Middle of the Middle East" by Lee Smith [January] was a beautifully written and accurate portrayal of Jordan and its people, including his reflective and knowledgeable guide, Ali. I was on a tour lastSeptember led by the same man. Smith didn't miss a thing—for me, it was déjà vu! Ali's willingness to understand and connect with foreign visitors is a testament to the Jordanian sense of gracious hospitality and friendship. This desert nation has had a tumultuous history, but Smith reminds us that resilience and hope are a real part of its current landscape. Thanks for a wonderful article.
—DORIS NORRITO, LARGO, FLA.
CORRECTION The Web address for the Hotel on Rivington (Reports, February) was incorrect. It is www.hotelonrivington.com.
READER'S FIND West Virginia I recently returned from the Potomac Highlands, where I discovered the secluded Wildernest Inn [S. Mill Creek Rd., Petersburg; 304/257-9076; www.wildernestinn.com; doubles from $95]. Located on 1,200 acres of hardwood forest (and 12 miles from the nearest town), this B&B is in a veritable wildlife sanctuary—black bears and white-tailed deer abound, and a lucky few might spot a bald eagle or two. After hearty dinners, the owners, originally from southern Africa, charm guests with fireside chats. Be sure to book one of six spacious upstairs suites for sweeping mountain views from a 2,200-foot perch.
—MARK BLACKER, VIA E-MAIL
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