• Matamoros Crossroads: Journalists often "parachute" into cities and towns and must quickly find good news sources. When staff writer Danna Harman arrived in Matamoros, Mexico, it didn't take her long to discover that Garcia's would be a journalistic gold mine (page 1). "My work was basically done when I walked up the big marble staircase into this restaurant with its enormous dining room and dance floor - a border-shopper's paradise.
"I started chatting with all the visiting 'winter Texans,' retirees who drift south for the winter. Crossing into Mexico is part of the whole experience, and some come every week. I was introduced to their tour guide, Melba, who knows everyone in town and started introducing me around. As it turns out, she didn't have to take me far. "Everyone" comes to Garcia's sooner or later.
Melba told Danna that she's brought some 100,000 Americans to Matamoros during her 35 years as a tour guide (and eaten about 10,000 lunches at Garcia's). She has her own special chicken salad, which she insisted Danna try. "When I went back for dinner," says Danna, "the hostess greeted me by name, and a waiter I'd never met asked me how the story was coming."
• Where's the Dueling Cleric? Reporter James Brandon almost didn't arrive on time at the home of Yemeni cleric Al Hitar (page 1). "The cleric's instructions were to turn right at a petrol station to get to his house. With every street- corner boasting a petrol station, my interpreter and I were soon lost," he says. "In desperation, we approached a passing 8-year-old and asked for directions. The small boy looked at us as if we were stupid. "Everyone knows where the judge lives," he replied, pointing us in the right direction. Five minutes later we were there."
David Clark Scott