Reporters on the Job
• Spanish Isn't Enough: One of the challenges of reporting a story about indigenous people in Latin America is the language barrier. Staff writer Sara Miller Llana went to the village of Fortin Mborore, Argentina, where members of the Guarani tribe didn't speak a lot of Spanish, despite the fact that many made a living selling seed necklaces to tourists (see story). The village is about 15 miles from the famous Iguazu waterfalls. "If I was speaking to older members of the village, I just had to find one of the kids to translate into Spanish for me," she says.
She was also struck by their eating habits. Prior to the relatively recent deforestation, they hunted for food. Now, they get government handouts once a month. "They eat a lot of bread made from cornmeal now. But unlike the indigenous villages in Mexico, I didn't see anyone growing corn. Only the village chief had a garden where he grew mandioca – a cassava root."
And the Iguazu falls? "Spectacular," gushes Sara. "I've been to Niagara Falls about 400 times. So I wasn't enthused about seeing Iguazu. But they were very impressive."
• Hawaii in Iraq: Staff writer Sam Dagher sat in on some of the planning for an operation that US advisers in Tikrit, Iraq, were working on with the Iraqi forces (see story). What surprised him was the language.
For starters the operation was dubbed "Makua," which means "coming together" in Hawaiian. Some members of the US team – attached to the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division and working with the Iraqi Army – are natives of Hawaii.
"To underscore how much they missed their wives (one of the US officers had only seen his wife once in the past two years), the Iraq target villages assumed code names like Ashley, Christen, Gerri, Juanita, and Stacey – names of the US officers' wives," says Sam. But, noted Sam, their Iraqi counterparts sometimes became confused by the code names.
– David Clark Scott