National Geographic Magazine has been a favorite of mine since I was a child. I would look at them every time I went to the dentist. I can still see that table with back issues of the magazine piled high. I loved the feel of the glossy covers, the look of the worn and dog-eared pages and most of all the stunning photography. The exoticness of the images and the stories of far away places would instantly take my mind off the dentist visit.
Finally, after months of begging, Mother finally bought a subscription for me. Every month that little magazine would take me on journeys far away from the small Mississippi town I lived in. Assisted by my over active imagination, the stories and photos served as virtual vacations. I loved it; I lost myself in the pages. I could go to places where the horizon was not underscored by pine trees, the water was not the murky brown of the catfish ponds, the food was not always fried and the people didn’t all look like me. National Geographic Magazine brought the world to me, taught me tolerance, opened my mind and forged my passion for travel.
In June of 1980 the most incredible thing happened to me. National Geographic Magazine came to my little back road country town. They were doing a story on the county fair that we have every year. The fair is a weeklong event and is held deep in the heart of the county on a track of land that has been carved out of a sea of dense pine trees and creeping kudzu. The fair grounds are dotted with cabins, pavilions and barns. Dubbed Mississippi’s Giant House Party, The Neshoba County Fair is like nothing else in the world and National Geographic was there to capture it. My little spot on Earth, the place that I so desperately wanted to escape from was to become someone’s exotic destination. People would be reading about us and they would be fascinated and awed. It was hard to comprehend.
That year it rained nearly every day of the fair. The sawdust that had been scattered on the ground was washed away and the earth beneath us turned into a muck of thick, red clay mud. One night around the pavilion, all of the kids including myself, were playing in that ocean of mud. We were all covered from head to toe and completely unrecognizable. We didn’t know it but to the outside eye we were wild and we were exotic. And that night, we were captured in the lens of a National Geographic photographer. Suddenly and ironically, I became part of the magazine that I so dearly loved.
When that issue finally landed in our rusty mailbox on Rural Route 1, I was wrought with excitement. I tore into the magazine looking to see what they had written about us, what pictures they took. And there I was, nothing more than a small unrecognizable blob of mud in a crowd of children, but never the less it was me. The caption read, “Kids run safe and free at the fair, …” My heart fluttered, I was in National Geographic Magazine.
Many years later I still get excited when I see a National Geographic in the doctor’s office. So you can imagine my excitement when my friend Nestor posted a link about the online cover photo gallery on his Facebook page. In the gallery you can see some of the most compelling National Geographic covers from the last 50 years and learn about the significant milestones reported in the magazine’s pages. You can also purchase a DVD-ROM of the covers that is titled The Complete National Geographic. Looking at the covers online brought back some wonderful memories for me and my guess is that it will for you too.
Posted on October 29, 2009
Filed Under Travel Alerts -- From www.travel.state.gov | Comments Off
The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to continuing security concerns in India. The U.S. Government continues to receive information that terrorist groups may be planning attacks in India. Terrorists and their sympathizers have demonstrated their willingness and capability to attack targets where Americans or Westerners are known to congregate or visit. This replaces the Travel Alert dated September 12, 2009, and expires on January 28, 2010.
The November 2008 attacks in Mumbai provided a vivid reminder that hotels and other public places are especially attractive targets for terrorist groups. U.S. citizens are urged always to practice good security, maintain a heightened situational awareness and a low profile. Americans are advised to monitor local news reports and consider the level of security present when visiting public places, including religious sites, or choosing hotels, restaurants, entertainment and recreation venues.
U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. For additional information, please refer to “A Safe Trip Abroad.”
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet website where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Americans are also encouraged to read the Country Specific Information for India, available on the Embassy’s website and also at the Department’s website.
U.S. citizens with questions or concerns may contact the American Citizens Services Unit of the Embassy or the Consulates General for further information:
– The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi is located at Shanti Path, Chanakya Puri 110021; telephone +91-11-2419-8000; fax +91-11-2419-8407.
– The U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai (Bombay) is located at Lincoln House, 78 Bhulabhai Desai Road, 400026, telephone +91-22-2363-3611; fax +91-22-2363-0350.
– The U.S. Consulate General in Chennai (Madras)a> is at 220 Anna Salai, Gemini Circle, 600006, telephone +91-44-2857-4000; fax +91-44-2811-2027.
– The U.S. Consulate General in Kolkata (Calcutta) is at 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, 700071; telephone +91-33-3984-2400; fax +91-33-2282-2335.
– The U.S. Consulate General in Hyderabada> is at Paigah Palace, 1-8-323, Chiran Fort Lane, Begumpet, Secunderabad 500 003; telephone: +91 (40) 4033-8300.
Posted on October 17, 2009
Filed Under Travel Warnings -- From www.travel.state.gov | Comments Off
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Guinea as the political situation there remains highly volatile, and urges all Americans still in Guinea to depart the country. Although Guinea has been relatively calm since October 5, 2009, the potential for violence remains high. U.S. citizens are advised that the Embassy further reduced the number of remaining personnel, after non-emergency U.S. staff and all dependents of U.S. employees left Guinea.
The U.S. Embassy in Guinea remains closed until further notice. The Embassy’s consular section will, however, continue to provide emergency services for U.S. citizens. Nevertheless, citizens should be aware that the Embassy may be forced to suspend operations entirely, including emergency services, without advance notice due to an ongoing security situation. The international airport in Conakry is operating normally at this time, but flights may be suspended if the current security situation worsens. Land borders are also open, but may close without warning. U.S. citizens who remain in Guinea despite this Travel Warning are urged to stay in their homes until the security situation returns to normal, to closely monitor media reports, and to follow all official instructions. U.S. citizens who must leave their homes for any reason are urged to exercise extreme caution, to be particularly alert to their surroundings, and to avoid crowds, demonstrations, or any other form of public gathering. Visitors to Guinea should be familiar with their hotel evacuation plans, policies, or procedures.
U.S. citizens in Guinea should carry their travel documents (i.e., passport, birth certificate, picture ID’s, etc.) with them at all times. Additionally, U.S. citizens in the area are reminded to stay in contact with friends and family in the United States to keep them apprised of their current welfare and whereabouts.
All U.S. citizens traveling to or remaining in Guinea despite this Travel Warning are urged to register with the Department of State through the State Department’s travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Department of State or the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located on the Transversale No. 2, Centre Administratif de Koloma, opposite the New Radio Station in Ratoma, Conakry, Guinea. You can call the Embassy switchboard at +224-65-10-4000, or reach the consular section directly by calling +224-67-10-4444. For after-hours emergencies, please call +224-67-10-4311.
Updated information on travel and security in Guinea may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada or, for callers outside of the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. For further information, please consult the Country Specific Information for Guinea and the Worldwide Caution, which are available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website at http://travel.state.gov.
Posted on October 15, 2009
Filed Under Travel Alerts -- From www.travel.state.gov | Comments Off
The U.S. Department of State alerts American citizens to the possibility of election-related unrest as Zanzibar registers voters for the upcoming general elections expected October 2010. American citizens who choose to travel to Zanzibar during this period are advised to maintain a high level of security vigilance and avoid political rallies, centers where voter registrations are taking place, and related public gatherings. This replaces the Travel Alert of August 28, 2009, to reflect continued voter registration throughout the Archipelago of Zanzibar, which includes both islands of Pemba and Unguja. This Travel Alert expires on February 15, 2010.
Past elections in Zanzibar have featured violence during the campaign season, the election and especially in the days and weeks following announcement of the results. Since registration of voters began on the island of Pemba on July 6, 2009, there have been reports of civil unrest.
Voter registration on Pemba Island is expected to conclude on January 10, 2010. Voter registration on the larger island of Unguja (also referred to as “Zanzibar”) began September 12 and is expected to conclude February 14, 2010. A second round of voter registration is anticipated in late spring 2010 and may carry with it similar political tensions.
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet website (http://travel.state.gov), where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the World Wide Caution, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00am to 8:00pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays.
Americans living or traveling in Tanzania are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/, so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Tanzania. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania can be contacted by telephone  (22) 266-8001 ext. 4122 and fax  (22) 266-8238. You may also contact the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For after hour emergencies U.S. citizens should call  (22) 266-8001.
Posted on October 9, 2009
Filed Under Travel Alerts -- From www.travel.state.gov | Comments Off
Medjet Travel Assistance Tip - The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the quarantine measures imposed by the Government of Cuba in response to the 2009-H1N1 pandemic that may affect travel to Cuba. This Travel Alert expires on January 7, 2010.
In April 2009, Cuba implemented a policy that allows it to quarantine arriving passengers who exhibit fever or flu-like symptoms. Although the overall percentage of U.S. citizens being quarantined remains low, the nature of the selection process makes it almost impossible to predict when a traveler may be placed into quarantine.
Cuba has reported confirmed cases of H1N1 and has quarantined the cases, including foreign travelers and residents, until their recovery. Cuban authorities screen travelers coming into Cuba by asking them to fill out a questionnaire regarding their current health status. If travelers are identified as being ill with flu-like symptoms in the airport, they may be evaluated by local medical personnel with the potential for treatment and quarantine at a Cuban hospital. The Government of Cuba directs that individuals staying or residing in Cuba, including diplomats, who are exhibiting flu-like symptoms, report to the hospital where they are normally treated. If the hospital suspects that the individual may have H1N1, they will be immediately quarantined for treatment.
Please note that the U.S. Department of State usually cannot interfere with the rights of other countries to screen airline passengers entering or exiting their countries, nor can it influence the number of days in quarantine. Because these outbreak-related delays, which could include several days of quarantine (the standard period is six days), may affect planned activities and lead to unexpected costs, CDC strongly recommends that travelers consider purchasing travel insurance. U.S. citizens are reminded that the U.S. government imposes restrictions on travel to Cuba. For further information, please see our Consular Specific Information for Cuba.
For more information on U.S. Government policy during a pandemic, and for travel safety information, please see the State Department’s “Pandemic Influenza Fact Sheet,” and “Options During a Pandemic” flyers. Further information about 2009-H1N1 Influenza, including steps you can take to stay healthy, can be found at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control website, the
U.S. Government’s federal influenza website, and the World Health Organization website. U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the Department of State’s travel registration website. By registering, American Citizens can receive the Embassy’s most recent security and safety updates during their trip. Registration also ensures that U.S. citizens can be reached should an emergency arise either abroad or at home. While consular officers will do their utmost to assist Americans in a crisis, travelers should always be aware that local authorities bear primary responsibility for the welfare of people living or traveling in their jurisdictions.
The U.S. Interests Section is located at Calzada between L and M Streets. The American Citizen Services section can be contacted during regular business hours at 537 833-3551 and for after-hours emergencies at 537 833-2302.
Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States or outside the United States and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.
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