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Traveler’s Advisory

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One of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the 110-m-high Pharos Lighthouse stood on the eastern tip of Alexandria’s crescent-shaped harbor for 17 centuries, until Sultan Qa’it Bey replaced the ruined structure in 1477 with a fort that still stands on the site. Since 1992, new technologies have enabled archaeologists to map the harbor floor and unearth thousands of ancient artefacts-including huge stone blocks thought once to have been part of the lighthouse. Now the Egyptian government is letting amateur divers come face to face with sunken treasures including headless sphinxes, obelisks and wine amphorae from Greek and Roman shipwrecks. The Alexandria Dive Company, http://www.alexandria-dive.com, offers diving trips to sites around the harbor.

North America
When Brandi Chastain scored the winning penalty goal for the American women’s soccer team in its 1999 World Cup final against China, the defender sank to her knees, ripped off her shirt, clenched her fists and shouted in ecstasy.

Her moment of victory has become the signature image in “Game Face: What Does a Female Athlete Look Like?” The 182-photograph exhibition, which encompasses everything from Olympic gold medal winners to a little girl playing hopscotch, is on view at the Smithsonian Institution in the U.S. capital through Jan. 2, 2002.

The British government’s pet travel scheme allows residents to take their pets to rabies-free countries and return without putting them in quarantine. But dog owners could face hefty fines for disregarding local laws while abroad. In Italy, drivers with more than one dog must keep them caged or behind a guard in the back seat. In Belgium,

it’s illegal to leave an animal in a parked car. And Spanish authorities will prosecute people who don’t keep their dog on a lead in public places. These and other rules are listed in the National Canine Defence League booklet Traveling Abroad With Your Pet. Excerpts are available online at http://www.theaa.co.uk.

Singapore Airlines passengers who run out of reading material on long-haul flights can keep their brains active by competing in digital quiz shows or challenge each other to games like head-to-head chess and mah-jongg. Up to 100 passengers in all three classes can join the “In-Flight Challenge” trivia

contest: winners receive small prizes like a flashlight and have their seat number flashed on their fellow passengers’ seat-back screens. The contests will run for a year on selected routes, starting with Singapore-Chicago.

The stories of the south pacific are many, exotic and romantic. From the mermaids and monsters of ancient seafarers, through the adventure novels of Ballantyne and Stevenson to the wry sophistication of Somerset Maugham, storytellers have relished the mythical and mystical connection with the sea that sounds some atavistic chord in all of us. For the ocean exerts a tidal pull on the imagination. Mankind has always been vulnerable to its siren song, seduced from the safety of land to navigate frail vessels beyond an unknown horizon. Six thousand years ago, the first voyagers set out from Southeast Asia into the most forbidding ocean of all. Greater than the other seas combined, larger than the earth’s land area, the Pacific guards its mysteries against the probing of science and exploration: in places its floor lies as distant from its surface as the airliners that fly overhead. And dotted throughout this vastness, tiny islands have nourished the descendants of those pioneers.

In recent years, however, much of the romance has been leached from the region. Not even the mighty Pacific’s breadth has proved a barrier to the ills of Western civilization. The islands have been touched cruelly by wars born of parochial disputes half a world away; mushroom clouds have darkened the skies over warriors who still fight with wooden clubs; climate change spirits away their shores. Greed, masquerading as commerce, has robbed islanders of their trees, gouged out their minerals, emptied their formerly teeming seas of fish. And as contact with the outside world has grown, foreign foods have brought health problems; alien systems of government have spawned corruption and coups; and the false promise of luxury has triggered new migrations which decimate native populations and fuel racial tension.

More than 200 years ago the French encyclopedist Denis Diderot alerted the Pacific islanders to the perils of European civilization: “One day, under their rule,” he warned, “you will be almost as unhappy as they are.” There are challenges today more daunting than any he foresaw; dangers, indeed, worse than any conceived by nature. But like the ocean itself, the peoples of the Pacific have a fluid adaptability. Their customs and traditions flow around man-made obstacles; they ride the tides of fortune with agility. Travel with them a little way, and listen to their tales. n

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