Reporters on the Job

Andrew Medichini/AP
City workers in Rome clean up an estimated 500,000 plastic colored balls tossed down the Spanish Steps and into the Barcaccia Fountain on Wednesday.

Mediterranean Paradise: When correspondent Nicole Itano and photographer Melanie Stetson Freeman reported today's story about tourism on the Mediterranean they stayed in Kemer (pronounced, Chem-mare), Turkey. It's a booming resort town on the coast and there are plenty of package deals for tourists. But Nicole found it depressing. "It might have been the poor weather or the fact that we were staying in a hotel full of German and Russian tourists, who looked miserable," she says.

Even their interpreter, a schoolteacher, was disappointed. "He'd heard it was beautiful and had always planned to bring his family here. But after a few days he changed his mind. He decided it was too expensive," says Nicole.

Cerali (pronounced Chee-ral-ee) was a different story. Nicole traveled the Mediterranean for this series and has traveled widely in Africa. "It was one of the most beautiful places I've seen. It's different from other parts of the Mediterranean, much lusher than Greece, for example."

Before they left, the local World Wildlife Fund officer (the beach is a turtle sanctuary), insisted that they had to see the town's famous fire holes about 1.5 miles north of the town. "We went out at dusk and saw flames spurt out of the rocks," she says.

The fuel is natural gas, largely methane, seeping through cracks in the earth. The phenomenon has gone on for thousands of years and is the source for the mythical Greek beast known as Chimera, a fire-breathing monster. "You can see how people would consider it a sacred place, " says Nicole.

David Clark Scott

World editor

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