I’M PRETTY SURE THAT, between the writing and the photographs, this issue of Slush Pile visits all seven continents. I myself have only visited five, and the one that makes for the the most jaw-dropping when I say it is Antarctica. That’s right, folks, I went frolicking with penguins and hiking up glaciers. I jumped into the Antarctic Sea. It was, without question, one of the most amazing trips of my life. But I try not to bring it up too often in conversation, because, let’s be honest, nobody wants to hear about your trip that was more fantastic and remote than any trip they have taken or are likely to take.
Having said that, I have dedicated this issue to places that are more remote and fantastic than most people are likely to visit. Cruel? Perhaps. But the reason I am doing it to inspire you to action on an issue that is close to my heart: climate change (or, the phenomenon formerly known as “global warming”)... (read more)
HOW OFTEN HAVE YOU wanted to vacation and see one of the true natural wonders of the world only to be disappointed? Well the trip to Antarctica aboard a National Geographic ship captained by Sven Lindblad did not disappoint. It was not only the majestic icebergs, the tens of thousands of penguins, the dozens of seals, the glimpse of whales, the soaring birds that made this trip memorable, it was my.... (read more)
WHALES WERE A CENTRAL figure in the growth of our economy and ability to be self-sufficient, here, in the early days of the United States, as we began our independence and promoted Manifest Destiny. The dawn of the 20th century saw a full-fledged free-for-all of whale hunting in the Southern Ocean... (read more)
THE 2-HOUR FLIGHT FROM Nairobi to Kigali begins over the wide-open expanse of the Kenyan savanna and ends among the mountains of Rwanda. I stared out of the plane’s window, enraptured by Africa’s shifting landscape, repeating the capital city’s simple, lyrical, and lovely name to myself: Kigali, Ki-ga-li. It rolled off my tongue like the hills... (read more)
THE DARKNESS BEGINS TO dissipate with no sign of the PMV to Ambunti. When the first sunrays appear, we trudge back up to Ralf’s guesthouse. My backpack is already weighing me down. It’s crammed full of my grungy clothes plus enough canned food for five days. We did our shopping yesterday... (read more)
SAHARA, STRANGE CREATURE SHE IS, has decided we’ll go birding. She knows what a bird is, but in a casual, somewhat abstract way, as a live thing that zips through the air on rare occasion. If you spotted one, you’d point to the gray, dimming sky and ask, “Did you see that?” You’d wonder where the...(read more)
WE ROLL INTO STARKS around sundown, and Annie is just now starting to nod her head up along the smudged glass at stop-signs and slow right turns. She has her body pressed up tight against the passenger window to make a nook for her boy Lee, who is spread across the truck’s interior in a fox-curl that has kept his black Rebooks in my lap.... (read more)
IT WAS JUST PAST NOON in the Sahara, and our pastel blue rental car was hustle-packed with two suitcases, a bag of roadside tangerines, knock-off Nutella, two baguettes, two bottles of water, and three types of cheese, all of which kept shuffling back and forth while I hung out the window with my camera, snapping away at the emptiness around us. My father, whom I’ve always called Baqi... (read more)
I REMEMBER MY POPS telling me he was going to heaven before he scaled the rungs of our farm’s only silo without using his legs. I was ten years old, jaw-dropped and hopping with excitement, watching the old man pull himself skyward as if climbing a rope. His forearms, I remember, were the size of cedar posts, and later that night he slept very, very well. It was the last night he’d spend with us... (read more)
AT THE CEMETERY DON'T act like you know what you’re doing or how to behave. Be too friendly. Giggle as you throw the second flower on the coffin, after his father. Thank everyone profusely for attending this most inauspicious occasion. You may never again have this chance to be a celebrity, to carry a burden as gracefully as a pashmina shawl, to question yourself as a stranger. “Stella, how can you be so strong?” Pretend instead that she air-kissed your cheek, hug her and go on beaming. (read more)
THE FIRST TIME I MISSED my period I washed a sprig of fresh parsley and pushed it as far into my vagina as I could reach. At sixteen I was still discovering the capabilities of my anatomy. Every six hours, I boiled water and infused it with bunches of the fresh herb; after twenty minutes I gulped five tablespoons of the elixir with a vitamin C chaser... (read more)
IT WAS LATE AND HE'D HAD a few beers when the truck rolled on him and he ended up nearly upside down with the wheels hung in the air. It was a big rig for such a road. And he was a little drunk. The truth was he’d been making up time after the river crossing and the long dinner he’d had at the rest house on the north bank of the Essequibo River... (read more)
THURSDAY 25th AUGUST 1774 - After doubling the Cape we found the Coast trend away to the South and to form a very large and deep bay of which the land above mentioned was its western boundaries. Every thing conspired to make us believe this was the Bay of St Philip and St James discovered by Quiros... (read more)
THE MOUNTAIN WINDS, like the dew and rain, sunshine and snow, are measured and bestowed with love on the forests to develop their strength and beauty. However restricted the scope of other forest influences, that of the winds is universal. The snow bends and trims the upper forests every winter... (read more)
MONDAY, DECEMBER 21, was beautifully fine, with a gentle west-north-westerly breeze. We made a start at 3 a.m. and proceeded through the pack in a south-westerly direction. At noon we had gained seven miles almost due east, the northerly drift of the pack having continued while the ship... (read more)
WEITZEL'S WORK HAS BEEN featured in National Geographic online, and she recently exhibited her collection of documentary photographs highlighting issues of identity and power in tribal societies at a juried solo show, “(Face)ts: Pakistan and Yemen,” at Harvard University. Her broader interests include the anthropology of travel, secularism, conflict, and democratization. To see more of her work, subscribe to her photostream on Flickr.
"UNDERSTANDING THE ECOLOGY and behavior of marine mammals will allow us all to develop improved means for conserving and protecting, not only whales, but the ecosystems of which they are an integral part."