Pankaj Mishra's 'Higher Ground' [August] expressed the essence of Tibet exactly as my husband and I recently experienced it. The scenery, culture, and colors were spectacular, but the quality of life was disturbing.

We were amazed at the poverty and suppression of local traditions and religion. And when we asked our young Tibetan guide about area politics, he indicated that he could not discuss this topic with us. Thank you for an article that was not a glossy travelogue; rather, it was a story that captured real life in Tibet and illustrated what can happen to a country when an oppressive regime takes over.

Scotch Pine
When I read Carol Wallace's article ["Highland Fling," August], I immediately wanted to pack my bags and move back to the bonny banks of Loch Lomond. As a Scotsman living in the United States, the older I get, the more I wonder if the conveniences I've embraced and the possessions I store in my attic here are worth the rich, simple way of life I have turned away from while searching for success. Someday soon, I hope to have my own stone cottage in the country, and I look forward to leaving the kitchen door open and having the postman set my mail on the breakfast table.

Two for the Road
Joel Stein's article ["Face the Nation," August] was a fabulous commentary augmented with laugh-out-loud wit. Or is it the other way around?I felt as though I was listening to a very funny, clever, observant friend talk about his trip. Best of luck to Joel and Cassandra in their new home, and I hope they're ready to travel together again soon.

As I read Joel Stein's adventure, I crashed into the following comment with shock and anger: "There is nothing good about El Paso." But then I realized that I couldn't agree more. Good does not do justice to the people who call this city home; they are among the best in the world and deserve better than a one-line dismissal from a writer too absorbed in his marriage or next spa treatment to stop and discover the magic of El Paso.

Gospel Truth
I felt immediately defensive when I saw "Sex, God, and Rock 'n' Roll" by Bob Guccione Jr. [August], thinking it was just going to be another attack on the Church. Thank you for a pleasant surprise, and for understanding that the Vatican is an excellent museum of Catholic history—not a house of worship.


My husband and I just returned from a two-week trip to Brazil, where we stayed at an immaculate pousada in Salvador called A Casa das Portas Velhas [6 Largo da Palma; 55-71/3324-8400;; doubles from $180]. This 15-room boutique hotel is located in the city's vibrant colonial section, where the movie Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands was filmed. Its name, appropriately, means "the house of old doors," and vintage doors, keys, locks, knobs, and hinges are displayed conspicuously throughout. The owner, a transplanted New Yorker, suggested excellent restaurants and city sights, but more important, he treated us like family and made us feel at ease throughout our stay. —SARAH PURSELL, VIA E-MAIL

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