• Coffee Road: Getting to Yirgacheffe, a town in Ethiopia famous for its specialty coffee, required staff writer Matthew Clark, his guide, and his driver to take a seven-hour car ride from the capital, Addis Ababa, across the Rift Valley and into the lush, rolling hills of southern Ethiopia (see story). Toward the end of the trip, the unpaved roads were rough and muddy, giving their SUV trouble.
They finally reached one of the more remote farms – and it began to rain. "They told me that if we didn't leave that instant, we might be stuck there for a few days because of the mud. We all had reasons we needed to get back, so we jumped in the car and started fast up the hill. We almost did get stuck but managed to skid our way out of the area."
Matt says the experience brought home a key point that the head of a cooperative of more than 100 local coffee farms had told him: bad roads are bad news for a prosperous coffee trade. "Fixing the roads is a top priority of his if the farmers begin to make more money from the Ethiopian government's recent move to trademark coffee from Yirgacheffe," says Matt.
• Song Bosses: Contributor Bruce Livesey was surprised to learn, as he reported his story on Italy's 'Ndrangheta mafia, that the mobsters write and record songs about their exploits. "We'd traveled to Reggio di Calabria, where we met Capt.Gerardo Lardieri of the carabinieri, Italy's national police force," Bruce says. "He proceeded to fill his office with the lilting folk songs recorded by the 'Ndrangheta. One was about a 2001 raid, during which Captain Lardieri and his men captured a 'Ndrangheta leader who had been on the run for 11 years. With a grin, Lardieri translated the lyrics to us, saying, "they are lamenting the fact that such a wonderful friend had been taken from their midst."
'Ndrangheta songs are banned in Italy, but often give police clues of the mind-set of the clans and, on one occasion, helped them arrest a 'Ndrangheta felon.
– Amelia Newcomb
Deputy World editor