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National Geographic Magazine

National Geographic Magazine November 2013

The latest news in science, exploration, and culture will open your eyes to the world’s many wonders. Get a National Geographic digital magazine subscription today and experience the same high-quality articles and breathtaking photography contained in the print edit.

United States
National Geographic Society
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bearing witness

Why cover a place so full of sadness? In the photograph the woman’s face is etched with anxiety. She is crossing a street with her family on their way to church. The black metal carapace of a water-cannon truck looms in the background. You can sense she is walking quickly. The streets of Kano, in northern Nigeria, are dangerous and no place to linger. It’s all there in the picture—fear, apprehension, defiance, and, in the black truck, a reminder of the daily brutality people face. Why cover a place, as we do this month, like northern Nigeria —a place so beset by insurgency and corruption, so full of sadness and violence? “To tell stories that need to be told,” answers Ed Kashi, the story’s photographer. To bear witness. To hope the story adds…


Songbird Slaughter Photographer David Guttenfelder was certainly right when he said that “this isn’t how birds are supposed to be” after witnessing illegally caged birds. So thank you. However, in the same issue there is a photo of parakeets or budgerigars looking at themselves in a mirror. Do you not think that this also is not how birds are supposed to be? Even if they are bred in captivity, they must surely have a strong instinct to fly. Their wings are not ornaments. A room in a house is only marginally better than a cage. What bird would choose to live inside and never feel the wind? JUDE KIRK Denman Island, British Columbia I guess my concern about the neighborhood cats’ hunting prowess is of little matter. Don’t the Europeans miss the splash…

boiling point

Andrés Ruzo National Geographic Young Explorer Grantee EXPERTISE Geothermal scientist LOCATION Peru As a geothermal scientist, I knew that boiling rivers exist—but they’re always near volcanoes. You need a lot of heat to make that much water boil. We were working in the volcanic gap, a 950-mile stretch that covers most of Peru, where there hasn’t been active volcanism for the past two million years. Yet we’d found the Shanaya, a name derived from “heated thing.” My measurements averaged 190°-195°F. The locals think it’s so hot because of the Yacumama, or “water mother”—a spirit who gives birth to waters—represented by a serpent-head–shaped rock at the origin of the heated water. I had to cut my way through the brush at the side of the river to take temperature readings. All the while, right next to me was…


Puerto Rico Breezes rustle the ruffles of little dresses hung to dry in Utuado, a mountain town in the island’s rural heartland. Venezuela Candles help summon the spirit of Maria Lionza, whose namesake cult claims thousands of followers in Latin America. This cleansing ritual, held during believers’ annual pilgrimage to Venezuela’s Cerro de Sorte, is known as a velación. Egypt In the Sinai Peninsula city of Saint Catherine, members of a Bedouin bride’s family—and the groom—celebrate with an impromptu dance after the wedding.…

your shot

This page features two photographs: one chosen by our editors and one chosen by our readers via online voting. For more information, go to yourshot.nationalgeographic.com. EDITORS’ CHOICE Mo Xizhi Shanghai, China Mo once discovered by mistake that lightly shaking a camera during a long exposure can create a blurred photo that resembles a painting. On the banks of China’s Ou River, he used the method to capture a group of traditional fishing boats and the mist that was rising from the water. READERS’ CHOICE Manuelo Bececco Perugia, Italy Toward the end of a safari in Kenya, Bececco, who had already spent hours photographing lions, noticed a family of giraffes approaching his group’s vehicle. As one of the giraffes began to run, three birds in the distance created, Bececco says, “a harmonious composition.”…

photo journal

Sleeping Cars In Los Angeles County, California, there are more than seven million registered vehicles. Everybody knows about the traffic here. But where do all those cars go to rest? I am a night owl; I don’t need much sleep. So in a departure from my usual, more challenging documentary work, sometimes I go out at night and photograph sleeping cars. My cars have to have a presence. They must command their space and can’t be crowded in with others. After a while I recognize their sleeping patterns. Their covers are like nightgowns, though some sleep in the nude. I find covered cars more in L.A. than in other places. In middle-class neighborhoods families own more than one car but only have one-car garages. Many cars are left on the street…