• A Fan of Famagusta: Correspondent Mike Theodoulou has lived in Cyprus for 24 years. He's been all over the island for work and recreation. But he couldn't be more enthusiastic about the city of Famagusta, where Greek and Turkish Cypriots are united in an effort to restore its architectural heritage (see story).
"There are many great ancient monuments in Cyprus," says Mike. There are Crusader castles and fantastic Roman ruins in the south. But there's no place with such a concentration of ecclesiastical architecture. It really is a neglected treasure trove."
Mike spent a "great day" in January with Allan Langdale, a Canadian art historian visiting Famagusta. "He was the best tour guide ever," enthuses Mike.
He showed Mike some of the city's ruins, noting that there was once a church for every day of the year. "He showed me underground churches that people who live in Famagusta today probably aren't aware of. They're tucked behind a mound or a fence. It really is a place of amazing historical wealth," he says.
• Gone ALBA House Hunting: Polls show that most Peruvians believe reports that Venezuela's influence is strong in their country. The Congress has just launched an investigation into reports that there are 300 ALBA Houses in Peru. ALBA is the acronym for a Venezuelan group that's promoting fair trade in Latin America as an alternative to the US free-trade pacts (see story).
But when reporter Lucien Chauvin investigated, he came up empty. "I tried to visit two ALBA Houses in Lima that had been listed in a local newspaper, but neither existed. One was a pet shop, and the owner had no idea why I was in his store asking about Hugo Chávez. The other was an apartment. Again, the family had no clue why I was there," he says. There may be ALBA Houses in Peru, but Lucien suspects that their numbers are grossly exaggerated.
– David Clark Scott