Letters Page | January/February 2014

Courtesy Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher

Out of the Africa Issue

I read Departures often and, as a Senegalese student living in New York, was so happy to receive the Africa Now Issue [October 2013]. But I was shocked when I saw in the “Tribal Guardians” portfolio a naked Sudanese boy standing and caressing an ox [left]. I don’t believe that this picture will encourage positive thoughts about Africa—especially among young people. It is a poetic image, but that boy is not naked by choice. He is naked out of necessity. And presenting this sad reality as a beautiful aesthetic damages efforts to raise the world’s consciousness about the African peoples’ struggle to realize bare necessities. It is a question of dignity.

New York, NY

The Photographers Respond: We’ve been documenting the different peoples and lifestyles throughout the continent for more than 35 years and spent several weeks living with the Dinka (the ethnic group to which the boy in the image belongs) in South Sudan in the 1970s—though this particular photograph was taken in 2006. In the dry season, the Dinka choose not to wear clothing in cattle camps, solving the problems of the harsh environment by applying a layer of ash from their cow-dung fires over their entire bodies. On one of our first visits, they were so curious about the pockets we had in our camera jackets that they had pockets made so they could carry items in them. Pockets but no clothing! Our photograph is a truthful and, we believe, respectful witness to a way of life that we wished to record in all its forms before it disappears. We appreciate your honesty and concern for human dignity.

 

I was delighted to find Norman Pieters at Karell on your list of Africa’s prestigious guides [“Guide to the Superguides”], but I feel it was a disservice to say he works mostly with “no-surprises luxury brands.” I’ve taken five trips with him, and he has always come up with creative and original ideas for me—including some of the experiences with which you credit other guides.

Los Angeles, CA

The article by Mark Seal on the proposed Serengeti Highway [“Where the Wild Things Are”] framed the complexity of that conflict beautifully. Africa is a continent of immense cultural and natural assets and should be on everyone’s bucket list. Thank you.

African Wildlife Foundation Washington, D.C.

The Buzz

What they’re saying about us.

A luxury magazine taking on a subject as sensitive as Africa is a tricky proposition....Once a year [in its special destination issues] the magazine devotes significant editorial acreage to long-form travel writing...which is becoming increasingly rare in travel publications.

Departures Devotes Issue to Sub-Saharan Africa,” WWD

Some of the articles show safari sophistication, such as “Going Mobile in the Mara” and “Holy Ethiopia.” They got some stuff wrong, such as promoting a particularly huge eco-unfriendly hotel in the Serengeti [“Tanzania Luxe”], but that’s balanced by a good piece on the likely disastrous effect of the highway through the Serengeti [“Where the Wild Things Are”].

“Entire Issue Devoted to African Safari” SafariTalk.net

News & Views

I love Departures. I don’t get it, but I steal it any chance I can.

Houston, TX

Facts & Figures

The first World Bank report on the problems and potential of sub-Saharan Africa tourism was released just days after the Africa Now Issue.

1 in 20 jobs in SSA are in travel and tourism.

33.8 billion people visited SSA in 2012.

$36 billion worth of receipts from tourism in 2012.

30% projected rise in SSA tourism jobs by 2021.

Philanthropy: Rebuilding the Philippines

A call to action.

I hold the Philippines very close to my heart. It is my birthplace, my childhood home and the location of our main factory, where talented local artists make so many of the products that I am proud of today. A couple months after super typhoon Haiyan, parts of the country remain devastated and in need of our ongoing support. As a longtime fan of Departures, I ask fellow readers for their help. I am so thankful to those of you who have generously donated to aid the recovery efforts. To learn more about ways to become involved or to make a donation to one of the many tireless charities and organizations dedicated to relief work, please visit natori.com. I thank you for your thoughts, prayers and continued support as we come together to help rebuild the country that I am so proud to call my home.

New York, NY

Instatravel

We’re now on Instagram and invite you to post images of life at its best with hashtag #departuresmag.

From the Archives

One reader wrote: “The best piece of food journalism I have ever read was Howie Kahn’s story on the world’s best langoustines [‘The Last Secret Ingredient,’ January/February 2011]. It was even better than David Foster Wallace’s ‘Consider the Lobster’ [which appeared in the now-defunct Gourmet].”

Ask Sophy

Before traveling to Buenos Aires, the family has a long weekend anywhere in Argentina. Where should we go?

The Salta region has a few authentic ranches, but it’s not really wild, like Patagonia wild. I’m dying to get to Caballadas, a two-hour flight from B.A. followed by a two-and-a-half-hour drive. You have a private 100,000-acre estancia in the Patagonia Lake District, with mountains covered in prehistoric araucaria trees. There’s hiking and fly-fishing, and the food should be as good as the horseback riding: home-cooked asados, mixed grill dishes, Argentine wines. Guests stay in the Casa Grande—a traditional oak-and-stone home in the heart of the ranch. It sleeps 20 in ten bedrooms, which you can book with a minimum party of four, but frankly, I’d gather a few more family members and take over the whole shebang. From $3,250 a person for a five-night stay based on four guests; 303-898-3376; caballadas.com.

Million-Dollar Cover

The total value of the jewelry featured on our November/December 2013 cover: $407,450.